Established in 1890, the Salmson company played a pioneering role in the development of innovative vehicles and engines, specializing in the construction, operations and maintenance of steam-powered machines and pumps. The firm soon became a supplier of Ponts et Chaussées, railway and military engineering companies and the French artillery.

The first compressors and centrifugal pumps were launched on the market with the Salmson brand name.  In 1928, Salmson adapted its automobile production to the mass-market automobile sector with the launch of the S6, the brand’s first vehicle with a camshaft positioned behind the engine.

The first Salmson car proper used a four-cylinder engine designed by Emile Petit with unusual valve gear: a single pushrod actuated both inlet and exhaust valves pushing to open the exhaust and pulling to open the inlet. This was used in the AL models from 1921. Later the same year the company built its first twin-overhead-cam engine, which was fitted to the 1922 D-type, although most production at first used the pushrod engine.