1938 Peugeot 515

A stylish French machine

The last classic motorcycle in this series of posts is perhaps the best looking new arrival at the NZ Classic Motorcycle Collection.

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Motoring journalist Mike Murphy has kindly allowed me to include his description of the Peugeot 515:

“Peugeot displayed its first motor bicycle at the 1898 Paris Exhibition. It featured a De Dion- Bouton motor mounted perpendicularly on the rear wheel but it was never put into series manufacture. That same year, De Dion-Bouton manufactured a motorised tricycle for Peugeot that was equipped with a 239.5cc engine. The tricycles were replaced by quadricycles in 1900 that were produced until 1903. Peugeot’s first real motorcycle was produced in 1901. It was essentially a bicycle frame equipped with a 1.5hp, 198cc Swiss ZL motor mounted under the front frame tube in front of the pedal crank. It used a belt drive to the rear wheel.

Between 1901 and 1939, Peugeot presented a total of 61 motorcycle models ranging from 100cc to 745cc. The first Isle of Man TT in 1907 was won by a Norton powered by a Peugeot V-twin. Peugeot also built the first DOHC, desmodromic four-valve, parallel twin in 1914. In 1933, the company showed two single-cylinder, 495cc, four-stroke motorcycles typed 515 and 517. In 1934, a lightweight 515 broke nine world records including setting a new world 24-hour record and a new 3,000km record at Montlhory at average speeds of 118.7kph (73.8mph) and 118.1kph (73.4mph), respectively.

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The 515 featured a unit construction motor with helical drive to the longitudinal camshaft and magneto. The oil pump was gear-driven while the dynamo, primary transmission and kick-starter were chain-driven.  It had a hand-change gearbox, a rigid rear frame and leading-link girder forks.

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The silencers were of a stylish Art Deco design made of cast aluminium.  

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This example was acquired from Sinless Motorcycles in Woodford, Louisiana, USA in 2015.”

Mike Murphy June 2015

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