Peugeot originated in the Eighteenth Century as a family industry; manufacturing history began in 1810 with production of coffee and pepper grinders. Later production of other metal goods included wheel spokes and bicycles leading naturally to the creation of an automobile. The first Peugeot automobile was a three-wheel steam car constructed in 1889 by Armand Peugeot in partnership with Léon Serpollet [who later set the Land Speed Record driving a steam-powered vehicle of his own design in 1902]. In 1890, Peugeot turned to internal combustion and produced his first four-wheel gasoline-powered vehicle with an engine design licensed by Daimler. Innovation became a hallmark of Peugeot automobiles, in particular the design of the first modern four-valve double overhead camshaft racing engine in 1912.
Peugeots became highly desirable in the years between 1900 to WWI, when France was the leader of the automobile industry. High volume production of Peugeots didn’t begin until 1929, however, but quickly extended a reputation for high quality, strength and reliability. Introduction of the 201 in 1929 established the familiar Peugeot numbering system that continues to be used to this day, quickly followed by the 301 and 401. The range-topping Peugeot 601 was introduced in 1934. The 601 was powered by a 2¼-liter in-line six-cylinder engine rated at 59 hp, with independent front suspension, rear suspension with elliptical rear springs and hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. The 601 was offered with a variety of body styles available on the “Normale” length chassis. A coachbuilt option was the 601 Èclipse – featuring the world’s first production retractable hardtop.
The 1934 Peugeot 601 Roadster offered here is an extremely rare body style produced by the factory, a style that was a frequently a prize-winner in period concours d’elegance. Just 109 examples of the 601 two-seat roadster were built. It is thought that as few as only 20 examples may survive today worldwide, and likely that this is the only one in the U.S. This example was sold new and remained in France until the mid-1990's. The car was sold to the Netherlands at that time, where a five-year overhaul and restoration was undertaken by specialists before becoming part of an important Dutch Peugeot collection. Among the also very rare features on this Peugeot are the desirable Robri wire wheels with chrome spokes and hub cabs and Marchal Aerolux headlights.
This car is finished in a striking combination of a dark blue exterior with rich red leather, steering wheel, trim and top. The sporty lines of the body are accentuated by the absence of running boards. The sweeping front fenders end ahead of the door lines. The low-mounted chrome Aeorlux headlamps and the spare mounted on the rear deck, the radiator trim and ornamentation, the extended hood line running to the base of the windshield to accentuate the length, a single narrow line of trim running the length of the sides and chrome plated bumpers all contribute to the unique presence and elegance of this very special automobile. Although the car is described as a roadster, it does feature roll up windows in the doors together with the well fitting cloth top. The car drives a great as it looks.
Records provided with the car indicate that it has been driven only 100 km since completion of the restoration. This exceptional automobile represents a unique opportunity rarely seen. This is a great car for vintage touring, and certainly will be the only example of its type. It is also sure to be sought after and welcomed at concours both here in the US and worldwide. Other materials provided with the sale include a binder filled with images showing the original unrestored car and progress through the restoration, as well as copies of generic Peugeot 601 history.