Pierre Desgoutte

Pierre-Marie-Joseph Desgoutte was born on February 26, 1874 at Saint Hilaire, near Roanne in the Loire, son of Jean Desgoutte and Marie-Philiberte Plasse. He started working in the automobile area in1896, first as a designer with Audibert et Lavirotte, where he designed a number of models, then as engineer with Berliet.

In 1897, he married a young girl from the Savoie region, Joséphine Curial, with whom he had two sons, Georges (1898) and Gabriel (1900).

In 1904, he launched Desgouttes et Cie, which later became Automobiles Cottin et Desgouttes (A final “s” was added to the name Desgoutte for marketing reasons). He personally designed three models: 12, 16 et 40 hp.

The company enjoyed a major success. However, in 1923, Pierre Desgoutte divorced, retired from Cottin & Desgouttes, remarried Elisabeth Wilhelmine Caroline Nobile de Zenetti, of Austrian origin, last descendant of a old Venetian family, and settled in Nice, where he bought a villa that had belonged to the painter Chéret.

Up to his death in Nice in 1955, he continuously demonstrated interest in automobile issues, and he issued patents concerning road and rail transportation shortly before he disappeared.

Pierre Desgoutte was my great-grandfather. Family pictures are available on my web site.


Cyrille Cottin

Cyrille Cottin, born 1870, died 1942, full first name: Cyrille-Edouard, was the 4th of the 7 children of Cyrille Cottin who had married  Louise Payen in 1863, hailing from a numerous family of the  “grande bourgeoisie lyonnaise”, the descendants of which have had numerous alliances with French nobility. His father held his fortune from the family silk business created in 1830 and of which he was an associate “Les petits fils de Claude-Joseph Bonnet”.


Due to the large number of descendants of the latter, the custom was that only the elder sons of each branch could enter the business. Thus, Cyrille-Edouard Cottin, who could not enter, created his own business and teamed with Pierre Desgoutte in 1906, when he was 36 years old. 

He invested his fortune, helped by his wife’s dowry (born Adda Bourras), and the trust which he got from his friends, relationships and family in the Lyons middle-class.

He was a man full of character, dynamic and daring, with a definite charisma. All of this together with the high technical competence of Pierre Desgoutte , allowed the new company Cottin& Desgoutte sto develop rapidly. When the company encoutered its first difficulties in 1929, André Citroën, who was already mass-producing automobiles, proposed to acquire the company. Through pride, he refused and eventually lost most of his fortune.

This is a picture of Geneviève Dubois, daughter of Cyrille Cottin, mounting a donkey in North Africa, in 1925, probably on her honeymoon.

Some information on  Cyrille Cottin (in English)

Lyon (Rhône) – 1904-1933