When, at 18, Gérard Welter He came to Peugeot Design Department By 1960, things had changed very little since the origins of the automobile. The designs were reflected in models made of wood, very difficult to retouch and correct. The projects went on forever. With his newly achieved plaster diploma under his arm, Welter was able to show the advantages of clay and polyethylene when working quickly on something as dynamic and as subject to change as the style of a future car.
This eagerness to innovate and his exceptional talent for drawing did not go unnoticed by the then Peugeot Design Director, Paul bouvot, which began to entrust him with the style of various elements of the brand's new ones, such as the rear lights of the Peugeot 404. Soon, he took over elements of more substance, such as the famous headlights of the Peugeot 504, inspired, in his own words, in the eyes of the Italian actress. Sofia Loren. A feline look that became synonymous with Peugeot for decades.
In 1975, he took over the Peugeot Exterior Styling Department. As responsible for the design of the brand's model line, his projects had to compete with those of Pininfarina that, since the 60s, signed several of the most outstanding models of the León. However, at the end of the 70s the economic situation of Peugeot was complicated, after the impact of the oil crisis and the acquisition of Citroën and Chrysler Europe to form Groupe PSA. A boost was needed to achieve significant sales success and to rejuvenate the image of Peugeot, until then specialized in upper-middle-range sedans. A traditional brand fame with which it had earned the nickname of "The Notary's Car" in France.
With the launch of the project M24 In 1977, Gérard Welter and his team of designers were determined to fight both the conservative image of Peugeot and the preferences of the Brand Management for proposals from the Pininfarina studio in Turin. Starting from the angular base of the Peugeot 104, Welter proposed a true stylistic revolution, with a rounded design, without edges and dynamic lines for a compact car with a large glass surface that gave it a light and friendly air. Was born the Peugeot 205. The rest is already a legend.
The bet on 205 was a success. It became the best-selling Peugeot in history, with 5.278.300 units manufactured between 1982 and 1998, in addition to conquering a new market for the brand and creating a true series of successes in this segment, with the Peugeot 206, Lion's sales record, the Peugeot 207 and the current Peugeot 208.
The modern and simple design of the Peugeot 205 remained practically unchanged during its 15 years of successful commercial life. Many of its elements are part of the "Peugeot style", such as the molding that joins the two rear lights, present in the latest releases of the brand, such as the SUV 3008 y 5008 and the saloon 508.
Welter was able to express his great love for racing in the Peugeot 205. Designer and head of a team of endurance racing vehicles since 1969, with a speed record in the 24 Hours of Le Mans still in force, the style of the 205 lent itself perfectly to sports interpretations that have created a school in the brand.
If Peugeot 205 GTi managed to become a mythical vehicle, with the 208 GTI y 308 GTI As more current versions of this concept, the Peugeot 205 T16 was the great precursor to sporting successes far from the comfort of the asphalt, with two victories in the Dakar Rally and two other World Rally Championship wins. A stele that has had its most recent success in the victory of Carlos Sainz on board Peugeot 3008 Maxi.
Between 1998 and 2007 Welter directed the Peugeot Design Center. A stage in which the Brand deepened its sportier aesthetics, as shown by the latest stage models, the Peugeot 407 and RCZ, and, above all, concept cars as spectacular as the Féline, 907, Asphalte, Oxia or Proxima.
Gérard Welter passed away on January 31, 2018 at the age of 75. However, his talent and indelible and unmistakable stamp on Peugeot cars will continue forever.