Searching for an affordable'n'compact European streamliner with a touch of Art Deco? Call your time travel agent, book the tickets for 1938. Destination: France.
The 1930's were great years for French automobile design. Bugatti were building amazing art deco inspired coach built cars for the aristocracy and even the more main stream brands were being inivitive. Citroën had almost rewritten the book with the launch of the Traction Avant a car that was technically light years ahead of the competition despite its rather dower styling. Peugeot on the other hand used a more traditional rear wheel drive layout but were busy designing some of the most elegant streamlined vehicles available in Europe. The first of these models was the 402, it was larger than the Citroen and because of its backbone chassis they were able cheaply offer a massive range of body styles which meant that they could offer a vehicle for almost any occasion from a practical saloon to the world first convertible with a folding metal roof.
1936 Peugeot 402 by Beast 1 @ Flickr
The 402 has a distinction of being world's first successfull mass-production streamline passenger car. Inspired by revolutionary but ill-fated Chrysler Airflow design, it outlived its source of inspiration, despite an unusual, even idiosyncratic appearance with closely-placed headlights behind the grille. This apperance was inherited by a pair of later models, the 302 and 202.
1937 Peugeot ad via aldenjewell @ Flickr
Although it was a success (and a platform for a number of stylish racing and sports cars) Peugeot really needed a smaller car to compete with the Traction Avant. In 1936 they launched the 302 powered by a 43hp 1758cc engine. Effectively it was a scaled down version and proved massively popular. The model ran for just 2 years but during this time over 25,000 vehicles were produced.
For 1938 model year, the 302 was replaced by 402 Légère (a shortened version of the 402 with a 302 body) and a smaller, more affordable model was added to the line-up: the 202.
Photos by gueguette80 @ Flickr
Powered by a 30hp 1133cc straight-four coupled to a manual three-speed transmission, it had a 2,450 mm (96 in) wheelbase, and was offered in three versions: "berline" (sedan), "berline découvrable" (4-door 4-seater convertible) and a more chic and expensive "décapotable" two-door cabriolet. A bit later a station wagon, the "break", was introduced.
Peugeot U 202 Pick-up Truck by Tuuur @ Flickr
Peugeot 202 Delivery Van (probably rebuilt from a passenger car). Photo by Pa_Le @ Flickr
Like almost every French car, the 202 served as a platform for pickup trucks and delivery vans, with slightly longer wheelbase. The top 202 variant was the "limousine commerciale" - simply speaking, a woody station wagon:
The Peugeot 202 was in production between 1938 and 1942. In 1945, the production has been resumed, to run through 1949. More than 100 thousand units were built.
Photos via gill4kleuren @ Flickr
Photo via by Sophie. @ Flickr
If the 402 was a "big lion" (see the Peugeot emblem), the 202 could be called "a lion cub". Let us enjoy some photographs of this remarkable petite voiture taken by car fans in France and elsewhere:
Photos by gueguette80 @ Flickr
Photo by jan 1968@ Flickr
Photo by chesteur @ Flickr
Photo by by Denis@ Flickr
Photos by kity54 @ Flickr
Photos by freeskier @ Flickr (God is in the details, you know)
1939 Peugeot 202 Décapotable by xavnco2 @ Flickr
Headline photo: by gueguette80 @ Flickr