Cars have always fascinated the world. There are rich people in the world who have hobbies of collecting cars. Since the dawn of the automotive industry, there have been several countries racing to achieve success in the field. One such country is France. French automobile industry has grown to a great extent. There are some really famous French car brands available in the world which you may be aware of. But, there are few car brands from France that are more popular than other car brands from the nation.
The list of 10 most popular French car brands you will love to drive:
10. Ligier (1968 – Present)
Ligier is a French automobile and minibus manufacturer famous for its involvement in the Formula 1 World Championship between 1976 and 1996. Guy Ligier, a former racing driver, and rugby player found the company in 1968. Guy Ligier was a specialist micro-car maker. Automobiles Martini and Ligier collaboration created many sports prototypes for hill-climbing and endurance sports. The company entered the automobile business with the introduction of Ligier JS2. It was a mid-engined sports car powered by Ford V6. From 1971, Ligier JS2 got an engine replacement with a Maserati V6 engine. The car was praised for its power-to-weight ratio and design.
9. DS Automobiles (2009 – Present)
DS Automobiles is a relatively new brand in France and is a subsidiary of Groupe PSA. It is a premium sub-brand of Citroën. In 2009, DS was announced as a premium sub-brand of marque vehicles. DS stands for Different Spirit or Distinctive Series. Since 2015, the company became an independent automobile marque. The history of DS brand dates back to 1955 when Citroën DS was a popular model. Citroën DS was an iconic design and its manufacturing stopped in 1975. DS Automobiles was built on the legacy and heritage of Citroën DS. The car brand is known to have designed and produced several dramatic-looking concept sports cars.
8. De la Chappelle (1907 – Present)
De la Chappelle is a French car manufacturer famous for making replica like Bugatti cars. The car brand was found in 1907 by two brothers Guy and Carl de La Chapelle in the Loire. The company built several engines of their own and had many patents to their name. It was something remarkable at that period of the time. Over 1,000 cars were built at this time. The WWI brought an end to the activities of the two brothers. The productions came to a stall.
After several decades in 1975, Xavier De La Chapelle great-nephew of Guy and Carl relaunched the brand. Xavier De La Chapelle was a former director at Venturi Automobiles. Stimula marque is a historic legacy of the De La Chappelle family. In 1998, the company created their own creation known as Roadster. Today the company makes grand tourers and roadsters. The company also makes real-cars for kids. These real-cars for kids are junior versions of BMW, Bugatti, and Ferrari.
7. Alpine (1955 – Present)
Société des Automobiles Alpine SAS (Alpine) is a French automobile manufacturing company founded in 1955. The company manufactures sports and racing cars. Through its history, Alpine was a close relative of Renault. In 1973, Alpine was bought by Renault. Jean Rédélé was an automotive pioneer, pilot, and founder of Alpine. During the 1950s, Rédélé was the youngest dealer for Renault in France. He started rallying the Dieppe-Rouen with a Renault 4 CV. He won several major events. As his experience with the 4 CV increased, he started to make many modifications of the car to improve its performance further. He changed the original three-speed unit with special five-speed gearboxes. He also used lightweight aluminum bodies to make the car lightweight.
After major successes in rallying and customer demand, Rédélé created the Alpine marque in 1954. It was named after his success at the Coupe des Alpes. Rédélé didn’t realize that Sunbeam (a British motor company) released a sports coupe and called it “Sunbeam Alpine”. Throughout the history of Alpine, the company had to face issues with its name.
6. Venturi Automobiles (1984 – Present)
Venturi Automobiles is a French-founded Monegasque-based automobile manufacturing company. The multinational company designs, manufacture and sells luxury electric vehicles. The founders of the company, Claude Poiraud, and Gérard Godfroy were two engineers at Heuliez, a French production and design company for various automobile companies. They both designed and came out with the first car of Venturi in 1984. The car’s name was originally spelled as “Ventury”. Their goal was to present a car that could compete with the English Aston Martin, the Italian Ferrari, and the German Porsche. By 1985, they were producing more cars, starting with 5 cars. In the next 20 years, Venturi built 750 luxury cars from its headquarters Couëron, Pays de Loire.
The Venturi 400 GT remains as one of the best performing French cars ever made. The car was the first in the world to have standard carbon brakes. Venturi was proving that their cars were the best in the French automobile market. In 2001, a Monegasque millionaire Gildo Pallanca Pastor bought Venturi. Gildo Pallanca Pastor focused more on electric-powered engines and that led to the Venturi Fétish model. In 2009, Venturi announced their acquisition of the French motorcycle manufacturer Voxan. In 2011, they announced the creation of Venturi North America which is a research and development center.
5. PSA Group (1976 – Present)
Groupe PSA is a French automobile manufacturing company. The company is the owner of other popular car brands such as Citroën, DS, Opel, and Peugeot. The company has popularity and expansion in several countries in the world with a wide range of coverage. In 2016, the company began building strategies to expand across geographies. The same year, the company was the third largest automobile manufacturing company in Europe.
The company which was in a financial crisis from 2012 to 2014 went on to become one of the largest automobile manufacturing companies in the world with the acquisition of other brands like Opel and Vauxhall. PSA is relatively a younger company when compared to the brands under it like Peugeot and Citroën. The company’s history began only in 1976.
4. Bugatti (1909 – Present)
Bugatti as we know today is famous after a recent revival in the 1990s by the Volkswagen Group. Before that, the brand was a French high-performance automobile manufacturer found in 1909. The brand’s name is from its founder Ettore Bugatti, an Italian-born French automobile pioneer. The company was sold multiple times, first to Hispano-Suiza in 1963 and then to Volkswagen Group in 1998.
Ettore Bugatti was from a family of artists; his cars were examples of amazing artistic designs. After a successful venture by Ettore Bugatti and his son, the company went through a financial crisis after their deaths. This was a turning point for the company. The once successful company changed hands multiple times. Today, it is still a popular and famous car brand to have come from France.
3. Citroën (1919 – Present)
Citroën is a world-famous automobile company and is part of PSA Peugeot Citroën. It is part of PSA Peugeot Citroën since 1976. In 1919, the French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën found the French automobile company. Citroën Traction Avant was one of its classical innovations that were on the roads from 1934 to 1957. The car was innovative and was first of its kind in the world. This car hit a production number of approximately 760,000 units making it as the first mass-produced front-wheel drive car in the world. The features from the car are still in use today. The company’s lists of innovations were many. Some of their innovations were the first time in the automobile industry.
The car brand has an interesting history from its founder André-Gustave Citroën. During World War I, André-Gustave Citroën built military weapons and equipment for France. André-Gustave Citroën had to think something in ahead after the war was over, otherwise, his production factories would cease. He chose the automotive industry as he knew it very well. He knew this industry very well because of his stint in another French automobile company by name Mors. Thus, his journey began into the creation of a world-famous automobile brand which broke several records.
2. Peugeot (1810 – Present)
A family business that began as a manufacturer of coffee mills and bicycles went on to become one of the world’s most popular car brands. Peugeot’s journey began in 1810. The company is over 200 years old and has been a successful automobile brand in the world. The company was found by Jean-Pierre Peugeot and Jean-Frédéric Peugeot. In 1842, the Peugeot family started manufacturing coffee, pepper and salt grinders to their production list. Crinoline dresses are responsible for the company’s entry into the vehicle market.
Armand Peugeot was responsible for the company’s engineering excellence in bicycles and cars. Armand Peugeot’s interest in automobile began early on after meeting Gottlieb Daimler and others. In 1889, Peugeot built its first automobile which was a three-wheeled, steam-powered car. This was a design innovation of Léon Serpollet, a French automobile pioneer and industrialist. Until 1896, the company was dependent on Daimler for its engines. In 1986, Peugeot built its own engines making them independent from Daimler.
Today, the company has grown to a world leader as a car manufacturer. It is into luxury cars, commercial cars, and sports cars.
1. Renault (1899 – Present)
Groupe Renault is a French automobile manufacturing company found by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand. The history of the company’s contribution dates back to 1898 when a young and aspiring engineer along with his brothers created many prototypes of cars. On 24 December 1898, the first-ever Renault car with name Renault Voiturette 1CV was sold. By 1903, Renault began its own engine manufacturing which was the first major innovation. During World War I, Renault became extremely popular among the French military when they massively transported troops using their vehicles. This event helped them get the nickname “Taxi de la Marne.” Around 1907 and 1908, Renault was the best-selling foreign brand in New York City.
Today, Renault Corporation is an extremely popular brand in the world with several brand subsidiaries. In 2016, Renault was 9th biggest automaker in the world. The company is into automobiles, luxury cars, sports cars, commercial vehicles, and even financing. Another brand under Renault, known as Dacia is getting popular.