Where are all the French cars in America?
While French car makers have produced a wide range of seminal automobiles—from advanced cars like the 1914 Peugeot L45 Grand Prix race car that Bonhams recently sold for $7,260,000 to the more humble Citroen 2CV—they have just never been particularly popular in America.
You’ll see an occasional Citroën or Peugeot or Renault, but nothing French has ever gained a foothold here, and it has been many years since any of the French Big Three has tried selling a new model in the States. Because every car finds a following, however, there are enthusiasts around the country that have fallen for French automotive design.
Looking at both pre-war and post-war models, we counted how many French cars are insured with Hagerty in cities around the country. The New York City/northern New Jersey area has the largest number of French cars, followed by Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Boston, Houston, Phoenix, and Seattle make up the next tier of French car affection.
Although there is some concentration in Louisiana, it isn’t a hotbed for French cars despite the state’s French roots. And you can drive all over Alaska or the Dakotas without seeing a single French car (not one insured Hagerty, at least), even if you were intently looking for one.
When it comes to specific marques, there is often a concentration of one brand in a state. Because some French car makers produced so few cars and others produced so many, we also wanted to know the most common marque, relatively speaking. For example, if a there were five Matras in the county and four were in one state, and that state’s share of other French car makers was less than 4 out of 5, then it is a Matra state—like California. Looking for fellow Panhard fans? Try Michigan or North Carolina. Simca? Minnesota or Montana.