It’s big, beefy and Berliet

24 August 2023
Remembering an all-terrain French Dinky classic

In a previous issue of Diecast Collector (get a digital back issue here), I wrote about French Dinky’s Berliet GBO Saharian oil pipe laying truck, number 888. Known as the ‘Lord of the Desert’, French Dinky replicated the Berliet GBO because of its importance to France’s oil exploration in the North African desert.

Launched in the second edition of the 1969 French Dinky catalogue, they introduced a further version of the Berliet GBO, all-terrain vehicle, as quarry dump truck or tilting tipper (725). It is said that this model was one of the last to be manufactured before the closure of French Dinky’s Bobingy factory, in Paris.

French Dinky’s 188mm long Berliet 6x6 GBO was numbered 572 and cost fr 22.225 when new. At a 1/43 scale, the cab and chassis were derived from the 1960-1966 pipe laying truck and the tipper truck displays all the features of the same beefy chassis and its leaf springs, with the vehicle’s details stamped into the metal frame. The plastic tipper body raises and lowers with a rack and pinion, which uses a lever and bar mechanism; no imitation hydraulics, here.  The red chassis and yellow tipper body was the only colour scheme. The cab had plastic windows and an interior layout. The baseplate was pressed steel, painted black, and the model was boxed on a plinth.  Sadly, the production run was one of Dinky’s shortest, finishing in 1971.

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There was no competitor to the Berliet GBO and 1,600 were built between 1956 and 1973. A 15 litre, 6-cylinder turbo-charged Berliet MDO diesel engine produced 300hp through a 10-speed gearbox, with a two-speed transfer, which resulted in 20 forward and 4 reverse gears. The original design had to be modified to take the truck’s larger 1800x25 Michelin tyres, which prevented this heavy vehicle from sinking into soft ground. These wider tyres were also necessary to support that beefy chassis, two double reduction rear axles and the front axle and its engine.

The trucks weight was some 60 tonnes, having a top speed of 50 km/h, which produced a rolling weight of 95 tonnes. Fuel consumption was 140 litres per 100 Km requiring the truck to carry 40,000 litres of diesel. Overall, the truck’s length ranged between 9.230m and 11.455m and its width was 3.465m. Ultimately, the GBO was replaced by the more stylish Berliet GBC.