Both Peugeot and Citroën left the United States during the dawn of the Reagan administration. But even before their exits, vehicles from the French marques were generally seen as the domain of dedicated Francophiles or liberal arts college professors. Or both.
That said, each marque—which merged into PSA Peugeot Citroën in 1976—has a storied lineage that stretches back to the dawn of the automotive age.
Peugeot has a particularly fascinating history, even aside from its automotive accomplishments. The company began making pepper grinders in 1810, started producing bicycles 20 years later, and more than fifty years after that, turned its attention to automobiles. As you'd expect from a company with roots in bicycles, just before the turn of the century, it also made motorcycles, beating American icon Harley-Davidson to the punch by over a decade.
Citroën, being founded in 1919, is the younger of PSA's two namesakes. But it's the make American enthusiasts would arguably be most familiar with. Its iconic DS, while hardly common, retains a small but dedicated following Stateside. Along with being the first mass production car with disc brakes, its hydraulic suspension was renowned for its comfort and durability. In 1962, a DS was even credited with saving the life of French president Charles De Gaulle.
When Citroën announced it would retire its hydraulic suspension in favor of MagneRide's adaptive suspension technology earlier this year, it marked the end of an automotive era.
To highlight its rich provenance, PSA recently announced a heritage initiative to insure the company's history doesn't get lost to time. The new L’ Aventure Peugeot Citroën DS association consolidates some existing groups, and will be administered by employees of the company, including Citroën's product planning chief.
We're looking forward to seeing the fruits of the new organization—even if we'll likely not see PSA Peugeot Citroën return to the U.S. market any time soon.