La Segunda Guerra Mundial left France in a dilapidated state and Peugeot , with its Sochaux plant controlled by the German occupiers until 1944 and subjected to several bombings and sabotage actions, it was going through a critical moment. However, the Leon brand made a brave bet: to launch a new mid-range model that would allow it to rebuild its reputation and its presence in the market.
This is how the Peugeot 203, which was presented at the Grand Palais as one of the great sensations of the 1948 Paris Motor Show. In an environment in which the other brands presented pre-war saloons and small cars designed for the rural and urban popular classes, Peugeot dared to attack the middle segment, orphan of models since the war.
In the aesthetic section, the Peugeot 203 stood out for a rounded design, with classic and elegant lines. Its two-volume silhouette was finished off by an attractive chrome front, with two round headlights integrated into the bodywork and a bonnet with a pointed end, which featured the “Peugeot” brand and the roaring Lion.
Technically, it was also committed to innovation. Prioritizing road handling, safety and braking efficiency, Peugeot engineers developed a RWD monocoque vehicle with a new 1.293 cc engine with aluminum cylinder head, capable of developing a power of 42 hp and reaching a top speed of 120 km / h.
Performance and driving pleasure that, together with its reliability, were key to the success of the Peugeot 203 and were the basis of a reputation that has survived to this day. Its four-speed gearbox, with its oversized fourth gear, a forerunner of current five- and six-speed transmissions.
Become an icon of the 50s in France, due to its rounded aesthetics and its chrome front that is inspired by the luxurious American sedans of the time, the Peugeot 203 became synonymous with reliability and performance.
One of the main characteristics of the Peugeot 203 was its chameleon ability to adapt to any type of use. Originally released on saloon version, with a highly successful Luxe finish that offered a sunroof, heating and anti-frost system, it was also marketed, from 1951, in bodywork convertible, with three colors of leather upholstery, disconnected (1952) familiar (1948-56) y convertible saloon.
Special mention should be made of its commercial versions: Peugeot 203 Pickup, Van, Van, Ambulance, Pick-up ... A versatility that allowed it to reach the number of 699.863 units produced.
His sporting successes, with victories such as the 1950 Paris-Cape Town Raid, the 1952 Yugoslavia Rally or the 1959 Safari Rally, opened doors like those of the Australian market, where he became the first Peugeot to be manufactured in the country. following his spectacular triumph in the 1953 Rally Australia.