1907 Peugeot 2½hp

Formerly producers of tools, coffee mills, umbrella spikes and corsetry, Peugeot commenced its long-standing connection with transportation in the early 1880s when it added cycle manufacture to its portfolio. The world's oldest surviving motor manufacturer, the company commenced car production in 1889 with a steam-powered tricycle but soon abandoned steam in favour of the internal combustion engine.

Also one of the pioneering firms of the French motorcycle industry, Peugeot followed the familiar progression: first adding proprietary clip-on engines to its bicycles before building complete machines of its own manufacture. The first Peugeot bicycle was manufactured in 1882; at this time the firm was known as Peugeot Frères but, as more family members joined, changed its name to Les Fils de Peugeot Frères in 1889.

Peugeot's first motorcycle – the 'Motobicyclette' – was introduced at the Paris Salon of 1901. Its 1½hp engine was supplied by the Swiss firm of Zürcher and Lüthi (also known as ZL or Zédel) and mounted on the front down-tube ahead of the pedals. Around 1903 Peugeot began manufacturing its own engines, which were mounted within the frame in the Werner position, thus improving weight distribution and handling, though assistance for the engine by means of bicycle pedals would remain a feature for some years to come. That same year, a team of five 3½hp Peugeots competed in the Paris-Madrid race. Truffault swinging-arm suspension was adopted on some Peugeot models for 1904, making them among the world's most advanced.

Equipped with the Truffaut front fork, this Edwardian-era Peugeot is one of the first to feature the company's own engine. Featuring matching-number crankcases carrying the 'PF' (Peugeot Frères) logo, it incorporates an automatic inlet valve and mechanically operated (side) exhaust valve, with lubrication by 'total loss', arrangements typical of the period.

At time of cataloguing it had not been possible positively to determine the manufacturing date of this machine, which appears to consist of a frame dating from circa 1907/1908 and an older engine. A well-used survivor from the most successful manufacturer of the era, it was discovered in a medieval flourmill in Alsace. The machine passed through the hands of various collectors over the years, each contributing a little to its eventual re-commissioning, and was acquired by the current owner in 2010 from Andre Gora, who had rebuilt the engine and pedalling gear.