Tag Archive: berliet


John Marston (1836 – 1918) was a tin plate worker and was working in a factory making household articles. In 1859 , he created his own company John Marston Ltd to make household articles and black enamel lacquer.
John Marston was a keen bicycle enthusiast and expanded in to manufacture of bicycles in the year 1887. He sold his bicycles under the brand Sunbeam“. It is told that his bicycle was finished with high quality black enamel and golden strips that it was reflecting sunlight and hence the name sunbeam. Many new innovations followed during the next few years – chain slack adjusting mechanism, oil bath lubrication for chains, to name a few.
As a logical extension, John Marston started working on motorcycles. Death of an employee in motorcycle accident made Marston to move away from motorcycle ,  terming it as dangerous.
In 1899 , he started working on motor cars and along with the help of Maxwell Mabley- Smith created the first Motor car. A 1901 Sunbeam-Mabley
This car had unique design of seats facing in opposite directions on either side of a belt drive. More than 100 units of this cars were sold between 1901 and 1904.
A 1902 , Sunbeam –
By 1904, Marston started importing Automobile Darracq chassis and building bodies over it. In order to expand fully in to car business the car division was renamed as Sunbeam Motorcar Company, in 1905. The bicycle business remained with John Marston Ltd. Slow down in car business between 1907 and 1910 forced Marston to look in to Motorcycle business again and the motorcycle division was created in 1912.
In 1920, owning to financial troubles, Sunbeam Motorcar Company merged with Automobile Darracq to form STD Motors ( Sunbeam – Talbot – Darracq). The cars were branded as Sunbeam -Talbot.
STD Motors participated in racing and a Sunbeam with a 350 HP aircraft engine set the land speed record in 1920.
In 1924, Sunbeam introduced a 3-litre sports car with a six-cylinder engine , with twin overhead camshafts and dry sump lubrication , a major innovation of that time.
A 1924 , Sunbeam 3-litre –
A 19332 , Sunbeam 20 –
By 1935, STD Motors was in financial trouble and was taken over  by Rootes group. Rootes group was a major automobile group with many British marques – Hillman, Humber, Singer, Commar , Karrier etc, They integrated Sunbeam, Talbot in to the group and did badge engineering to bring out cars with various combinations.
Some of the famous Sunbeam cars under Rootes group were –
A 1948 , Sunbeam – Talbot –
A 1964 , Sunbeam Tiger –
Between 1964 and 1967, Rootes group was slowly taken over by Chrysler and formed Chrysler UK, which later became Chrysler Europe. Sunbeams and Talbots continued under Chrysler Europe.
By 1978 , the Sunbeam and Talbot marques were taken over by PSA Group (Peugeot) and the Sunbeam marque disappeared after 1981.

The Sunbeam Logos

The original Bicycle logo with Black enamel and Golden stripes –



Marius Berliet (1866 – 1949), of France started experimenting with engines and cars in 1894/95 and produced a single cylinder engine car.This car sold only a few numbers till 1900. By 1900, Berliet designed and manufactured reliable cars.



In 1902, Berliet bought the factories of Audibert & Lavirotte and started manufacturing 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder cars. In 1906, financial troubles led Berliet to sell design licenses to American Locomotive Co (ALCO) to manufacture Berliet design cars.


Marius Berliet was interested in manufacturing large trucks and by 1917 was a supplier of trucks  for the French army. Cars continued to be manufactured till 1936 and one of the famous car was the Berliet Dauphine with independent front suspension.



After cessation of car manufacture, Berliet continued to build large trucks. One large truck was the 1957 , Berliet T100 –



Berliet Logo –



While Berliet had no connection with manufacture of Locomotives, the logo depicts a locomotive. It is believed that this was related to the financial bailout by ALCO in 1906 which led to the adoption of this logo by Marius Berliet.


Berliet was taken over by Citroen in 1967 and when Citroen was taken over by Peugeot , the Berliet brand was sold to Renault. Renault integrated Berliet in to Saviem and then RVI which became Renault trucks. Renault trucks currently with Volvo group.


A Berliet Truck seen in the 2010 Paris Motor Show –



RENAULT – Electric Future ?

In 1898 , Louis Renault (1877 – 1944) converted a De-Dion cycle by modifying  the then prevalent chain drive system to a propeller shaft system and challenged others for a race up a steep gradient. Renault won the race and in the process generated 13 orders for the propeller shaft driven car. Louis Renault along with his brothers Marcer Renault and Fernand Reanault formed the company Renault Freres in 1899 to manufacture and sell these “Renault Little cars

Renault is to be  pronounced as “Reh-no” in English.

Below are the 1899 Renault Type A and a 1901 Renault

In 1908 the name of the company was changed to Societe Automobiles Renault and continued to manufacture small cars, taxis, buses and trucks. During the wars they shifted to manufacture of ammunition and battle tanks. After the WWII , Louis Renault was accused of conspiring with the Germans and was arrested and imprisoned in a French prison. Louis Renault died in prison within 4 weeks, under mysterious circumstances.

After the death of Louis Renault , the company was taken over by the French government and nationalised. Renault continued to manufacture Cars & Trucks, some of the well-known cars of that era being the 4CV and the Dauphine.

In 1999 , Renault acquired controlling stake in Nissan Motors , Japan and later saved Nissan  from bankruptcy in a restructuring process planned and driven by the current CEO , Carlos Ghosn. Renault-Nissan alliance also acquired Dacia of Romania in 1999; Samsung Motors of South Korea in 2000; AvtoVAZ of Russia in 2008 and is one of the top  automobile manufacturers in the world, currently.

Renault-Nissan alliance has invested heavily in the electric mobility , which according to them is the future. RN alliance have launched the Nissan Leaf , a Battery electric vehicle, Renault Fluence ZE – another battery electric vehicle. Apart from developing Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) , they are also developing charging systems &  infrastructure in certain countries and also pioneering battery swapping technologies.


The first logo of Renault had the initial of the three brothers – Louis , Fernand & Marcel. The Diamond started appearing in 1925 and the Yellow later , indicating Dynamism &  Quality.

In the earlier years, Renault was also in to manufacture of commercial vehicles and tractors. In 1955 , Renault truck operations acquired other truck manufacturers like Souma & Latil (a 4×4 pioneer) to form a company named Saviem (Societe Anonyme de Vehicules Industriels et de Equipments Mecaniques). Saviem acquired Berliet and was renamed as Renault Vehicules Industriels (RVI) in 1978.  The RVI was sold off to Volvo in 2001 and now is part of Volvo group. The Logo of RVI  – Renault diamond in RED background.