Trucks from Berliet, Saurer Laffly and Renault participate in the Mission des Sables Expedition

The Sahara is a fascinating and formidable test ground for automotive expeditions, many of which took place between the wars. Later the aim was to test trucks.

The general government of Algeria launched a competition for diesel-powered trucks to test their capacity for transporting a payload (3.5 tonnes) between Algiers and Gao, a return trip of 6000 km.

Berliet Diesel Truck GDHL, 1932.

Renault was interested in the possible commercial benefits, and entered 2 diesel trucks weighing 5 tonnes: one 4-cylinder (TID 4) and one 6-cylinder (TID6), both equipped with internal bunks, water tanks and storage compartments. Berliet entered a GDHL and a 6-wheeled, 4-wheel drive vehicle; Saurer entered 2 type 5 ADD trucks, and Laffly also entered 2 trucks. The army took care of supplies and logistics. The vehicles had to survive breakdowns, repeatedly bogging down, and the implacable harshness of the desert. After reaching Gao (Mali), 7 out of the 8 competitors returned to Algiers on 29 March after completing their mission. The Berliet trucks took the prize, but all manufacturers used the expedition as publicity and claimed victory.

Une réussite pour tous les participants

Après avoir atteint Gao (Mali) 7 concurrents sur 8 regagnent Alger le 29 mars, leur mission accomplie. Les camions Berliet remportent le concours mais tous les constructeurs utilisent cette expédition comme moyen de publicité en revendiquant la victoire. Cette expédition au cœur du désert saharien a montré qu’il était tout à fait possible de traverser le Sahara par camion diesel.

POUR ALLER PLUS LOIN… Livre : Marie-Christine Rouxel, Renault en Afrique, croisières automobiles et raids aériens 1901-1939, ETAI 2003