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Old 15-06-15, 11:25 PM   #1
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Thought I'd start a thread about the French car industry and its interesting contributions over the last century and a bit. I know people take the mickey out of French cars but the French, to a degree have made quite a few contributions to the automotive industry and have a long history of trying new ideas that a lot of mainstream manufacturers would shy away from. Even today french cars are pretty advanced. Just wondering if anyone has any contribution or personal favourites on this topic? I would say that one of the French classics I like is the Facel Vega and in my opinion the Citroen Traction Avant probably introduced the most inovations at one time, to the motor industry in general. Now I'll probably get kicked off the Peugeot forum for saying that lol. Any on else want to contribute?
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Old 16-06-15, 07:38 AM   #2
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The Traction Avant pretty much incorporated most of the feature of a pre computer controlled car.
Citroen in particular made some archetypically French cars, the Traction Avant, DS series and 2CV are all icons of French cars. Unfortunately advanced design didn't necessarily mean more sales, the very complexity of the big Citroens put many off buying one, the simple but quirky 2CV was outsold by the Renault 4 by about 3 to 1.
Renault went from rear engine cars to front wheel drive seemingly without troubling much with front engine rear wheel drive designs, Peugeot were much more conservative, their 403, 404 and 504 cars all sold well as solid dependable cars. In the '60s both Peugeot and Renault had excellent reputations for reliability and build quality.
Maybe the french were leaders in front wheel drive designs, although such cars had been built before WW1 by various designers in many countries. I can only think of Citroen (France) and Cord (USA) offering fwd cars for sale before WW2, I dare someone can add to that list?.
The DeDion suspension system is a French design, Michelin marketed radial ply tyres, but I can't think of any specifically French innovations other than those.

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Old 16-06-15, 04:55 PM   #3
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Yes your right Roger advanced design doesn't win you sales often the other way round but that doesn't seem to bother the French and although they didn't necessarily invent some of the concepts they stuck with them and other manufacturers ended up playing catchup. It is interesting that the Rzeppa CV joint was invented by an American engineer working for the Ford motor company, in 1927 but the first FWD of any serious note in the ford range didn't appear until the 1970's. The French really were the pioneers of FWD a concept that put some people off them. Unitary construction all production cars since the 1950's have been of unitary construction, the Traction Avant was the first car to introduce this concept in the 1930's. The French also pioneered diesel cars when others shyed away from them, with Peugeot being one of the main driving forces and there are many more items that could be added to this list some which were ultimately successful and others that weren't. I think what I am trying to say is that the French car industry has never been scared of change and therefore has been a driving force in the advancement of automobile engineering and still is.
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Old 20-06-15, 10:06 PM   #4
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Went round the Peugeot museum a few years ago, amazing what Peugeot has made over the years.
One thing they pioneered was curved glass windscreens.
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Old 22-06-15, 08:28 AM   #5
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When did they start selling curved glass screens?.
The earliest cars I have seen with them are American cars from 1951.

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