Petropoulos (the full name of the company is Petros Petropoulos A.E.B.E.) is today a major importer and distributor of vehicles and heavy machinery in Greece. The company having been, at the same time, one of the "historic" Greek engine and vehicle manufacturers.
The Petropoulos family has been involved in metal constructions for generations. Konstantinos Petropoulos was a well known manufacturer of church bells and metal products in the late 19th century, based in Amfissa and, later, in Lamia. According to tradition, there was a supposed well-kept "secret" behind the sound quality of the Petropoulos bells – the bell being today the recognizable company logo.
The company in its present form was founded by Petros Petropoulos in Thessaloniki in 1922. Early activities included sales of commercial vehicles as well as rebuilding of engines and vehicle assembly. This early construction activity invlolved assembly of Ford (1920s) and Willys-Overland (1930s) passenger cars, and Diamond T and International trucks (1930s). The Petropoulos factory was put under German control during the Axis occupation of Greece in WWII. The company resumed business after the war, and in 1948 it moved its headquarters to Athens, where it had already created a subsidiary.
Rebuilding of engines remained a major activity until 1956, when Petropoulos made a bold move, investing in farm tractor production. The Model Π-35 introduced in 1956, as well as the more powerful Π-55 that followed shortly after, were based on International Harvester designs (powered, though, by Perkins engines). Competitively priced and robust, these tractors became an immediate success story; however, in the early 1960s the company was engaged in a legal dispute over market (competition) rules with Malkotsis, another Greek tractor manufacturer claiming a share in the fast developing tractor market, resulting in production delays that almost bankrupted the company.
The company eventually abandoned production of its own tractor series and focused on engine production and truck and tractor assembly. Petropoulos-assembled trucks and tractors were exported to Europe and the Middle East. In 1974 it engaged into its boldest project, development and production of a new "smart" 4X4 truck family (Unitrak/Polytrak/Militrak models). The trucks sold fairly well to farmers, but the Greek Army ordered only small numbers of the Militrak version. This, and a 1984 change of a law that had made "farm vehicles" economically attractive, lead to termination of production. Once more the company, after heavily investing in an industrial project, was found in a dire financial state.