Jan 7, 2023


 BERLIET / FRANCE  ( 1895 - 1975 )

 Marius Berliet, born in Lyon in 1866 - 1949 , began manufacturing automobiles in 1895. His first motor car already featured a 4-speed transmission. After his first successes, Berliet was able to acquire the factory facilities of the "Audibert-Lavirotte" company. Berliet also successfully participated in competitive events.  As a result, the American company ALCO became aware of the Berliet cars and acquired a license. These vehicles were marketed as American Berliet.  In 1939 the last passenger cars were produced, commercial vehicles were  built under the Berliet name until 1975.

 very large metal shield of the nineteenthirties

Until 1906 there was no radiator emblem at all, only a script:


1904 BERLIET with German license plate from Munich (photo collection Thomas Ulrich)

In a 1905 advertisement  Berliet  advertised with a fantasy emblem that never existed in reality:

From 1906 onwards the Berliet vehicles always featured a steam locomotive in the emblem over a period of about 70 years. 

Why Marius Berliet chose a steam locomotive as his logo is unclear. In any case, he himself did not come from the railroad industry, nor did his parents have anything to do with it. My guess is that it has to do with the fact that he sold the license for the American Berliet to the company American Locomotive, which was itself active in the railroad business. But even the American Berliet had no locomotive logo:

emblem and photo from the Murray Shears collection

To my knowledge the first enameled  emblem was used in 1906. Exactly the year in which the license agreement with ALCO was concluded and the emblem clearly shows an American locomotive, recognizable by the cattle - catcher.

1913 sales brochure showing the locomotive

BERLIET truck radiator with removable elements ( c. 1914 )

the first enameled BERLIET emblem was quite large

9.3 cm
Yearc. 1906 - 1912

On the first BERLIET vehicles there was also a very beautiful radiator cap:

made of brass

 6.2 cm
Yearc. 1914 - 1920

To my knowledge, the emblems became smaller  after WWI:

On the website of the Berliet Foundation you can read that after the year 1927, the word "LYON" in the emblem was replaced by the word "AUTOMOBILES". I think that is not absolutely true because I found a lot of younger emblems still with the word "LYON".

 7.4 cm
Year 1918 - 1927

1923 advertisment showing the radiator with round emblem

Pay attention there is a ( good quality ) repro made by " La boutique de l`Automobiliste" in the nineteeneighties (here  number 34):


All emblems shown are reproductions made with the original tools. However, they are easy to recognize on the back because they always got a central screw in the middle, which did not exist on the originals. In addition, the backsides are chromed like new.

backside of an original

repro:  backside with less details and a central screw
1923 BERLIET advertisment for the Austrian market

In the thirties, the emblem received the shape of a shield:

2.9  x  6.7 cm
Year1930 - 1932




The last limousine was built in 1939. It was a PEUGEOT type 402 with a BERLIET front.

The emblem was again simplified and made in aluminium only: 

BERLIET was also active in coachbuilding:

emblem with the french colors: blue , white and red

The first postwar ( truck ) emblem had also the form of a shield:

This was the last emblem with a detailed locomotive

5.7 cm x 9.2 cm
Year 1946 - 1948

From the fifties, the locomotive on the emblem became more and more simplified. But you can still see that it was a locomotive:

2.9 cm x 6.7 cm (emblem only)
Year 1954
  with aluminium base


Want to buy it ? Just ask your BERLIET dealer for the spare part number C 60704......

emblem with very simplified locomotive

2.9 x  6.7 cm

Even on the first emblems, which were made of plastic, the locomotive was still easily recognizable as such:

8.8 x  10.3 cm

1956 BERLIET fire truck ( sapeur pompier ) seen in a German museum

Still an appealingly made emblem, three-dimensional in a horn button.

But now.  What do you recognize ? The sign for men or a locomotive ?

Okay, the sign is upside down. But the abstraction of the motif "locomotive" has been taken to the extreme. It couldn't be worse, even if one can always argue about taste.

Incidentally, a number of hood ornaments were created in the 1950s, all made of aluminum.Here a three-dimensional locomotive:

The ornament tapers to a trim on the hood.

6.0 cm x 28.0 cm
Year  1959 - 1961

Front emblem with a modernized lettering ( the first letter is now written in lower case )

1960 front ornament

28.0 x  8.5  cm


The largest Berliet front emblem was this one. It is one of the largest ornaments that have ever been on vehicles. It measures a proud 30 cm in width and 35 cm in length :

BERLIET autobus PLB or PCR  1955 1956

30.0 cm x 35.0 cm
Year c. 1955 - 1956

contemporary ad showing a bus with the giant emblem

The last front emblemswere rather simple. They came in various sizes.

here a particularly large piece.

18.5 x  32.2 cm

Last but not least I present a handmade wooden model of a Berliet toy wagon with original emblem:

For more emblems see older posts or top right ( list of car makers ).

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