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1912 Berliet Type AM 15 HP Coupé De Ville


Unlike so many of his contemporaries who entered the infant motor industry from existing engineering businesses, Marius Berliet was a simple, self-taught mechanic who began work in the silk-weaving industry before joining his father in his business making accessories for the clothing trade. After attending engineering night classes he built his first somewhat disastrous car as early as 1894 and persisted in his endeavours, despite lack of capital, through that decade. Finally obtaining backing from Alfred Giraud, he set up his own small factory in Lyons and in 1901, assisted by engineer Pierre Desgouttes, he designed a quite successful and well-engineered, four cylinder, 22hp car of which it is thought about 100 examples were built. Further expansion saw a wider range of models in production by 1904, his larger offerings following very much Mercedes influence. Good fortune came in 1905 when he sold a licence to build Berliet-designed cars to Albert J.Pitkin of the American Locomotive Co., at the same time agreeing to supply major chassis components. The 1906 40hp Berliet was superbly engineered and expensive and the buyer of this car would be a person of some financial substance who could afford the most exquisite coachwork, the interior reflecting in no small way the extravagance and creature comforts of contemporary first-class railway carriages.

By 1912 when this car was built their range had broadened somewhat and the AM model as presented here was powered by a 15hp four-cylinder side valve engine.

According to a 1960s carte gris on file which records Mr. Vander Stappen’s acquisition, the car was originally registered on 15th July 1912, while an older French registration card dating from 3 April 1929, notes that at that point the car was owned by a Monsieur Laverdet, of Martel in the Cahors jurisdiction, that document records that by 1929 it had already received a ‘Camionett’ or light commercial body.

As acquired by Jacques Vander Stappen in August 1963, it was in need of considerable attention. Mr. Vander Stappen elected to restore the car and to equip it with a more appropriate open drive Brougham body. The coachwork sports a Van Den Plas plaque, but it is not known if this authentic or relates to the body. Regardless, the combination is unquestionably a success and the quality of the restoration was clearly carried out to a high standard. On formal display within this collection for decades, the car has not seen active use and will require recommissioning prior to use.

Car Equipment

  • +Leather interior
  • +2 doors
  • +4 seats
  • +Left hand drive

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