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BERLIET, Lyon, France, 1895-1939


The first miniature car Marius Berliet, a self-taught mechanic from Lyon, built in his garage in 1894. In 1900, he had already produced several cars with 2- and 4-cylinder engines with power up to 12 hp, created in collaboration with Pierre Desgouttes. The license for one of them was bought by the English company Sunbeam.
In 1901, having absorbed the large industrial company Audibert et Lavirotte, Berliet strengthened its manufacturing base and soon released a model very similar to the “Mercedes” shape of a flat cellular radiator. Instead of a wooden frame, this machine had a sturdy metal chassis.
In the very first years, Berliet cars have earned a reputation as reliable and durable cars. In 1906, Marius Berliet sold the license for its cars to the American company American Locomotive Company, which produced locomotives and is known by the abbreviation ALCO. The contract value amounted to 500 thousand dollars in gold, which allowed the company to completely re-equip its enterprises. Perhaps that is why the Berliet found their logo in the form of the silhouette of an American locomotive, which lasted until the last days of the company.
In 1907, “Berliet” took seventh place among automotive manufacturers in France, releasing more than 1000 cars. Her reputation was promoted by sports successes. She also made trucks. They entered the Berliet program in 1906. In 1910, a small passenger car with an engine with a working volume of 1539 cm3 and a power of 12 hp went into production.
Before the war, “Berliet” produced cars with engines from 8 to 60 hp, as well as a model with a mixed drive (with a gasoline engine, a generator set and an electric motor for wheel drive). The main ones were three series: two with 4-cylinder engines in 2412 and 4398 cm3 and one with a 6-cylinder unit in 9500 cm3. They remained in the company directory until 1917. At the same time, the famous CBA trucks and FT-17 light tanks were produced for the French army.
The post-war program included several small class cars, as well as the resumption of production of modernized pre-war models with engines from 2.6 to 5 liters and power up to 80 hp. These cars with motors with side valves and fairly traditional bodies are quickly outdated. In 1924, they released a new gamut of models with overhead motors. As competition in the passenger car market intensified, more and more money was spent on their constant modernization, therefore, “Berliet” began to lean toward the release of trucks that were not so prone to fashion changes.
To restore for some time the company’s reputation in the field of passenger cars was helped by the “7CV” model with an engine of 1159 cm3, as well as two 1927 models with 6-cylinder engines of 1.8 and 4.0 liters. Marius Berliet constantly maneuvered between cars and trucks, trying
make maximum use of market requirements and not miss the opportunities offered.
Still, the Berliet cars gave way to trucks. In 1933, only two passenger models were in production with 4-cylinder overhead engines with a displacement of 1.5 and 2 liters, an independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. In 1936, the company announced the release of the Dauphine model with a 2-liter engine, independent front suspension and a Peugeot-402 body. Making his own body was no longer strong enough, and “Dauphine” was the last passenger “Berliet”. Its production was stopped in 1939. The company began to produce only trucks and buses, having gained worldwide fame. In 1974, she joined the French industrial group Renault "

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