Peugeot has been making cars since at least 1890s, which makes their car enterprise amongst the oldest in Europe and the world. However, the company itself is yet older – they have been around since 1810, and the iconic lion logo was in use since mid 19th century.
Meaning and History
The lion logo is over 150 years old now, and it naturally didn’t have anything to do with cars at first. For Peugeot, the animal was a symbol of strength and speed, but it was initially meant for their other products (like saw blades, wheels and bicycles). After they’ve switched to cars, the symbol became even more fitting.
1810 – 1850
The lion walking on the arrow was used by the ‘Peugeot’ company since their birth, as believed. It was a highly detailed depiction of a lion at first. There was a big artistic value to it, and each part of the animal was scrupulously painted in different shades of grey, white and black.
The arrow was longer than the lion, and had a good measure of detail itself.
1850 – 1889
In 1850, the logo became noticeably darker, which was probably the effort to reduce spending. It also reduced a great deal of detail, because there were only two colors now – black and white – and they were sprinkled in great shades and blobs.
Importantly, it was this logo that was patented as official Peugeot symbol in 1858. Before, it wasn’t the company’s property on paper.
1889 – 1910
In the late 19th century, the logo was even more reduced in detail. It was still artistic, but the amount of lines and strokes invested was dropped to an appropriate minimum. The coloring returned to normal, but there were still only black and white colors. It was this logo that witnessed the first public Peugeot cars.
1905 – 1910 (badge)
The first Peugeot badge reused their lion of the time and put it into a circle with rays radiating from the centre of it. The arrow was replaced with a single line, and there was also the text for the first time. On top and in the bottom stood two plaques crowned with flowery ornaments that said ‘Peugeot Paris’ (one word per plaque).
1910 – 1927
In 10s and 20s, Peugeot wore a new logo. The lion now stood on a rock and roared somewhere to the right. It was again very detailed, with an especially big focus on volume and shade. There was again a big specter of grey, but not for long. Furthermore, they still kept an arrow, but it was small and wasn’t meant for walking.
1927 – 1936
The pattern of making the logo dark and shady repeated itself, but this time they added a black rectangle with the bold white and thick word ‘Peugeot’ underneath the logo proper. Nothing else changed, and it was the last realistic lion the company had.
1936 – 1948
The French company spent the WW2 with a blue and yellow logo that returned to the old combination but had a few differences. The lion was once again walking on an arrow, but they were now dark blue with some minor yellow sprinkles for detail. The new lion resembled the exemplar from the late 19th century, but still was different.
This image was put on a large yellow shield with blue outline (thicker on the right side) and a several blue vertical lines on the lower half of it.
1948 – 1950
For 2 years, the company had a different emblem. The most important thing that came out of it was the new lion. It was fairly minimalistic, but not one-color, as the previous one. This one stood on the rear paw and put its upper paws up, as if dancing or spooking someone.
It was also roaring, had a long tongue and a noticeably malicious expression. This new lion is more or less used even now.
As for the shield, it became more-or-less rectangular, was only painted in black and white (as the rest of the logo, anyway). The black background behind the lion had some strange elements that looked like combs.
1950 – 1960
This version only used the lion from the previous variant. It was unchanged, save for the detailing approach, which was inspired by the yellow and blue design – a completely black image with several white sprinkles for the eye and several lines across the body.
1955 – 1960 (badge)
The badge was, in contrast, blue and white. The iconic predator was now put on the triangular shield again. It was blue, had several round shapes along its corners, and the company name in the upper part of it.
The text was interestingly inconsistent – the lines were of different sizes, lengths and thickness. This was the basis of the future texts, although the inconsistencies were gradually scrapped.
1960 – 1964
The new logo was both a badge and a corporal logo. The text on this one was noticeably more consistent and bold, but the peculiar details remained. The shield was also not as thick as before, and lost its round details.
But the most prominent change happened to the lion. It was now just a head, albeit a highly-detailed head, of a roaring lion with the glorious mane. As before, the logo was blue and white, and the head was mostly white with blue lines.
1964 – 1976
It changed, yet again, with the new version. Here, the blue was replaced with black, and the shield shape was replaced with the square. The text remained the same, except it wasn’t curvy any longer.
The head was also given a metallic look, meant to inspire the spirit of cars, no doubt. Everything now consisted of direct lines and strict shapes (especially the mane, which was made into a heap of rectangles and squares).
1976 – 1998
Again, the entire concept was scrapped. The design returned to the idea of a dancing lion, but it was now just a small outline with no detail. Beneath it was the text, taken completely from the previous version, also black.
1998 – 2002
This is where the lion chose its final pose. The position was largely the same as before, but now it had both paws on the ground. The color was white with a slight blue shade on the right side. The only other color on the animal was the blue speck for the eye, which was the same color as the background.
The background itself was in the shape of the square. Beneath it was the company name – thin letters with just several artistic inconsistencies. Still, it was now stricter than ever. The color was also blue, like the square.
2002 – 2010
There were two changes in 2002. The first was the enlargement of the square, which henceforth also included the text in the bottom (turned white). The second was the color blue, which became slightly lighter. That’s pretty much it.
2010 – now
The final version (yet) didn’t change much.
The lion was now silver and metallic. The position remained the same, except the tongue was removed and the head tilted forwards a bit. The key change is that the surface has a relief now, which naturally creates shades and different lighting.
The square was removed, but, for the purposes of the logo, the text stays. It has a darker blue hue now and is a bit thinner than before. But that’s about it. For the purposes of the badge, they mostly only use the lion, although the color may change.
So, after long deliberations, they’ve come up with this clean and stylish version. Not for long, however, because they intend to switch back to the 60s shield design soon.
Emblem and Symbol
The emblem of the ‘dancing’ lion has been used by Peugeot as a car emblem for many decades, even when it wasn’t the primary logo symbol. This ‘dancing’ lion is very popular in heraldry, where this pose is called a ‘rampant lion’. This exact symbol is present on the coats of arms of many monarchies even now.
It usually means courage and strength, but it also might be a hint by Peugeot that they consider themselves the kings among the car manufacturers. It’s unknown what they imply exactly.
A year after the Germans made the first real car in 1895, the French from Peugeot created their own automobile, the very first from France. It was called a Type 1, had 2 cylinders and 3 wheels. It was essentially a powered tricycle with a cabin.
The new Types were created every year from then on (sometimes even several types a year). Type 2 was the first French 4-wheel car. Type 68 (1905) was the first racing car, and Type 69 (1905-1916) – the first truly successful car. The Type streak was ended with the Type 190 in 1931.