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SARA - Société Automobile de Rhône Alpes


Thanks for the typo on the weight.

The SARA is looking forward to cooperating with PMI Polezny. Development plans for SARA engines for the late fifties include a whole new I3 family, up to 1.0 liter…
The planned V4 and flat 2 had to be canceled, sadly, and the status on our I4 engines is still uncertain. The Marshall will have to be redesigned by then, and could be available to PMI at a very low cost, even factoring in the tooling (there is not a lot), and workers’ training. But we might have a whole new design, less undersquare, and factored for economy, by then.
Low Comp engines will be a continued feature of the SARA and, due to massive overproduction of beets in France, we might start a study on ethanol engines.

We also are studying a lower-cost version of our Presque Diesel family, though that would be somewhat of a challenge - that new mechanical injection stuff seems perfect, but we don’t see how we could make it cheap ; the bakelite injectors we experimented with were economic, but sadly they had a mtbf of about 10 hours, which is not satisfying.

The opportunity to work with a PMI consultant for fixtures is also an interesting perspective, since it appears that people appreciate the decadent, american aesthetic of putting chromes everywhere. We like our cars sober, and we think France needs not imitating USA, but then we also have a mission to sell cars, so we might have to compromise there


The cooperation would be with the design team of PMI Puma SARL and/or PMI Minerva NV/SA. So, French / Belgian styling.


The 1949 SARA Percheron Builder

And the Quasi Diesel" engine Family

The last new model for the '49 lineup was yet another failed design, victim of excess money from the Marshall plans and the internal wars ruining the climate at the SARA.

The chief engine engineer, Eugène Delacroix, was a firm believer in Diesel engines. Sure, they were expensive to build, smelled awfully, and it sounded like… Well, like a diesel. But Delacroix was an eccentric (well, for an engineer, at least), who lived on a barge along the river Rhône, and he found the Barge large Diesel engine had its qualities.
It was nearly indestructible, it started in any weather (provided you waited for the preheating spark to do its job), it ran on bascially everything, from heating fuel to frying oil to… Diesel, offered loads of low-end torque, and was economic.

So, Delacroix started to work on a diesel engine, thinking there was a market for this in the utilitary and fleet vehicles, where large volumes would help mitigate the development costs.

SARA being Sarah, he was allowed a comfortable budget, and had the bases of a nice 2.7l diesel going when Chief Marketing engineer Corot heard about the project.
And Corot had a dream - he wanted to make the SARA a higher-end brand, and dreamt about inline sixes, classy advertising in luxury magazines, car reveals in exotic countries and palaces. Chief Marketing Corot wanted nothing to do with Diesel, and Chief Marketing Corot had an alumni in government.

Two months later, a new law was voted in parliament, banishing diesels. Sadly for Corot, all his maneuvers where for nothing, at least as far as getting upmarket was. The board simply decided to keep the diesel block, adapting it to gasoline while working on the lower end torque and robustness, and to spin it as the “Quasi Diesel” (almost diesel for the non-snail eaters).

Which made for a, well crappy engine family, with a crappy commercial stunt to go with.

The car is as good as the engine

So, now that we have a crappy, heavy, underpowered engine, let’s throw some steel panels around and call it a day, and be done with it, was the answer from chief design engineer Fragonard, who was already close to nervous breakdown from finishing, and having to put his name on the SARA Marshall.
And so the SARA did.

Using either the Quasi-Diesel or the smaller Marshall engine (in low comp and utility trims), the truck was truly awful, and missing entirely the market. While it had decent hauling and towing capacities, and came in various forms, plateau, van, minibus (with nine seats), and even in 4x4 offroad variants, it was underpowered while being too big for the European market.

The specialty versions (the Forester 4x4 Truck and the Carrier minibus, mainly) did manage, despite their shortcomings, some success in the administration, as they had least kept the rustic, rural qualities of the SARA vehicles.

But this was a failure and somewhat of an embarassment, especially considering the weird choices made by Chief Marketing engineer Corot regarding the branding of the truck

Yet another branding failure

Antoine Corot, the one who lobbied to forbid Diesel, didn’t really want to work on promoting a truck.

One day, at the hour of the apéritif, he was rehashing the failure of the SARA Marshall “banana” campaign with the accountant principal (who I will have to name since he seems to be a recurring character after all…)

“- Say, mister Poussin, do you have an idea how to sell that ugly workhorse those zoots Fragonard and Delacroix built ?”

“- Not as such, engineer Corot. I think playing again on the smile is a bit early, that at least I can tell you”

“- Now, that was mean, you know. You’ll have to pay the next round of anisette to apologize. But you’re right, though, this is a plowing machine, not a smiley thingumajig like the other, you ken, the one with a crappy US name, the guy who gave us money”

“- Now, hold my anisette for a second, I think you might have something there. Plowing, workhorse… Something rural, something strong. Why not call it the Percheron ?”

“- You mean, the Percheron, like those ugly big working horses we used to see in the country when we was young ? Isn’t that a bit of a silly name ?”

“- I don’t know, you’re the salesman there. But I know Rolls & Royce sell their limousines for an awful lot, and what is a limousine if it’s not some sort of cow ?”

“- You know, you’re brilliant. Hold my anisette while I write a memo”

Indeed, the Percheron is a breed of draft horse, while the Limousine is a cow breed (and a bodystyle, with some weird connections to the french region of Limousin)

And so we got the Percheron, which came in different trims, each one linked to a craftsmanship. The Forrester for the heaviest duty, 4x4 truck, the Builder for the intermediate, RWD truck, the “Delivery” for the van, the “Carrier” for the minibus…

Yep, undercoat grey FTW

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Based on the SARA Quasi Diesel I4 engine line - 85.9 bore and 114.5 stroke for 2653 cc max capacity, all cast pushrod

Capacity : long-stroked, 78.1x114.5, 2194 cc
7.3 compression, twin single-barrel eco carb tuned for 92 RON regular gasoline, cast log header
46.1 hp@3300 (redline), 130 Nm@1400, 14.3% efficiency
178.9 kg, 869$

The obvious misconceptions, such as the choked exhaust, quality slider abuse, weird fuel system and noisy muffler are intentional. This has to be a heavy, noisy, expensive, lumbering engine with awful throttle response

Car Details

7249$ build cost (0 markup)

2 door - 3 seats, 2.92m wheelbase, 5.10m total
Front Longitudinal RWD
Steel ladder chassis and panels
front/rear axle leafs, 3 gear manual

Weight : 1180 kg
Fuel Economy : 16.1 l/100 (14.6 MPG US)

Max Speed : 109 km/h
0-100 km/h : 48.5
1/4 mile : 24.91
Kilometer : 48.15
G : 0.67-0.64
Braking 0-100 : 97.7 m

Airfield time : 2:21.20
750 kg tow - 850 kg load capacity


Next step in 1955, which the long overdue firing of chief marketing engineer Corot, and a somewhat decent car to replace the Marshall. With the profits returning, we should then be able to try to expand, using PMI to improve on our styling


The turmoil years

Despite the Armistice still selling strongly and the Fourgonnette being a hit, the SARA went into deep financial troubles, with their two major products, the one where SARA invested a lot, being complete failures. The margins on the small vehicles were low, but soon they had to start selling the Percheron and the Marshall at cost, sometimes even at loss, only to move inventory a bit and sell them before they reached terminal rust decay (which came quite fast, to be honest).

Had the SARA been privately owned, it would have gone bankrupt, but as a State-funded company, it survived, if only to avoid an unemployment crisis in the production sites.

Yet, in 1953, a new government came to office, and whistled the end of recess.

Chief Marketing Engineer Corot, being the most inept of the senior staff and closely tied to the former government, was the first to go, but basically the whole executive directory was changed.

And, surprisingly, the change was made in favor of able managers, not tied to political reasons.

François Jeanneret became the new CEO, with a six-years contract, and, behold, he actually came with a strategic vision for those years !

A relative of famous architect Le Corbusier, Jeanneret was a firm believer in the motto that “the functions dictates the form”, and that the cars built by SARA should be designed in accordance with the clients needs.

That might sound obvious, but that was actually a kind of cultural shock to the firm.

An alumni of the Higher School for Commerce, he had also made postgraduate studies in the USA, with a MBA from Stanford, where he had learned about qualitative marketing research and focus group. He quickly set up a task force to develop what would become the “Automation Marketing standard”, upon which he urged the design teams to rely heavily

Early draft of an “Automation Marketing standard”. Had the design team been using this kind of tool to design the Marshall, they would have known no one would buy it before it hit the market

Apart from implementing this consumer-focus culture, Jeanneret also set up the strategy for his mandate.

  • Due to financial difficulties, there wouldn’t be major new developments during these six years.
  • The Marshall, costing huge losses, would have to be replaced as quickly as possible, though, even though it was stated from the draft sheet that the car would be a stop-gap measure.
  • The only other new car would be a redesign of the Armistice, trying to capitalize on its success while erasing the worst edges and going (slightly) upmarket, to increase margins and restore some financial health
  • Also, he implemented some new production techniques and management, somewhat of a batardized lean management culture. Though obviously, given the company’s culture, this was limited in scope, it helped nonetheless by improving quality and social relations within the company, for a significant gain in productivity.

Work would then start on the new “Modulor” engine family. A tip of the hat to Corbusier’s work, the Modulor relied on the strong belief in standardization that characterized Jeanneret.

First draft of Jeanneret “Modulor Engine Brief”

On this basis, progressive introduction of a new car lineup could start. Jeanneret was impressed by the leaks about the CItroën DS, and requested cost/benefits analysis on new technologies - hydropneumatic suspensions, independant suspensions, front wheel drive, transversal engines, overhead cams…

Rhône-Alpes being a major actor in France aluminium production, it was also a political request to study the uses of aluminium

The target was to have at least one really new product - and a financially healthy company - by the end of his term.
Then he would seek a new mandate and start international expansion.

Jeanneret was an able manager, but he wasn’t without ego !


The 1955 SARA 3 - smart engineering applied to facelift

Under the dynamic management of Jeanneret, a whole new batch of smart, young, and eager engineer joined the staff, at prominent positions.

Antoine Watteau, the chief platform engineer, now had a deputy, Georges Seurat, more specifically in charge of the suspension.
Seurat was a punctilious person (*), and in a few months time, he was able to provide detailed studies on the advantages of independant suspensions and radial tires, proving how quickly the initial tech investment would pay off, and, using the Marketing Standardized Automation, that the cost/benefit advantages would offset any slight increase in price to the customer.

(*) A special delivery of Saint-Joseph wine to anyone who notices the awful pun hidden there

Thus, as early as late '53, the decision to work on independant suspensions platform for the SARA 3 and 4 was frozen. Which gave enough time to brush up a bit on the engines and trims, and to work on SARA 4, the real new car scheduled for '55, and the Modulor 500 engine

SARA 3, SARA 4 ? What are those names, who miss the stupid poetry of earlier SARA cars ?

Well, Marketing engineer Corot got fired, for one, and Jeanneret believed in “form follow function”, remember.

He explained this to accountant principal Poussin on a luncheon he had set up initially to try to dissuade the accountant principal to write in various colors in the accounting books.

“- But, François (Jeanneret), an accounting book is boring. When you go from red, to green, to some blue, sometimes a dash of purple if you feel daring, it is much better than this bland red-black scheme most accountant uses, don’t you think”

“- Jean (Poussin), accounting has rules. Form must follow function. Just look at this Saint-Marcellin cheese. It is not round to please the eye, but because this is the most efficient form when casting the cheese with the laddle”

"- You say that, and we sell the Armistice and the Marshall - well, not the Marshall, no one buys it actually. Where is the rationnality in this ? They should be called “small backbreaking car” and “midsized crappy car”, according to your reasoning

"- You have something there. The smaller one has a I3, the bigger one a I4, SARA 3 and 4 sound good. With numerals for displacement, since those bourgeois from Pleugeot preempted using a zero in the middle…

  • Hang on my Chateauneuf du Pape while I draft a note. NO, Don’t drink my wine !"

Enough french antics - can we see the car now ?

The 1955 SARA 38S in Turini Trim

So, basically, the SARA 3, while branded as a completely new car, was an Armistice, with an Armistice engine, but with a few chromes to look nicer (actually, they are patended SARA Chromalite, an alloy of tin, plastics, and some shiny paint), the patended Fragonard grille, and fully independant suspension, front and rear.

Fernand Léger; the knew Chief Marketing Engineer, did what he could to try to spin the car to the market - though pretending the SARA 3 was a “Princess” was a bit of an exageration, the car was improved enough that it sold well, and the dated design was still having some success in rural areas.

Can we talk about the car now, granpa ?

The 38S Turini is the “sport” trim of the SARA 3, with a bigger, more agressively tuned engine (forget about fuel economy), and a slightly improved interior - for greatly improved margins for SARA !
It still offered 4 doors, but, as it used the race-tuned Turini 800S (also available in 1100S, 4 cylinder) and a chassis that put way more than 0.8g on the skidpad, that made a close connection to the SARA Turinis used in promotion and amateur racing - just strip it bare, put a helmet on and you’re good to go !

The building cost was around 687$, with allowed for a MSRP in the 750$ - but SARA (and independant garages) made also tons of money on the maintenance, which was expensive (over 55$ yearly) for such a small car.

Obviously, only available in Bleu de France, but nobody would have wanted it in another color

I said some chromes, not “lots of chromes”

Picture Summary


Engine Details

Based on the SARA Armistice I3 engine line - 64.9 bore and 86.6 stroke for 861 cc max capacity, all cast pushrod

Capacity : 62.6x86.6, 800 cc
8.2 compression, DCOE (!) carburetor tuned for french 89 RON regular, short cast header
47hp@5600, 62.7Nm@4900, 7.8% efficiency (ouch !)
85.5 kg, 381.2$ ('18) cost

Car Details

6376$ build cost (0 markup)

4 door - 4 seats, 2.06m wheelbase, 3.33m total
Front Longitudinal RWD
Steel monocoque chassis and panels
Mc Pherson (F), Semi Traling Arm ®, 3 gear manual

Weight : 698 kg
Fuel Economy : 16.8 l/100 (14. MPG US)

Max Speed : 128 km/h
0-100 km/h : 29.4
1/4 mile : 28.95
Kilometer : 48.01
G : 0.866-0.821
Braking 0-100 : 46.1m

Airfield time : 2:06.34

The 1955 SARA 36L

As classy as the Turini trim might be, the bread and butter of the SARA 3 was still the 3CV, economical model, now dubbed “36L” - SARA 3, 6 hundred CC, Luxury (did I mentioned already the steady use of irony in France ?)

While it was still slow and uncomfortable, it was nonetheless a much improved car, (somewhat) faster and comfier, much safer and drivable, with a better fuel economy… And for the same base price and upkeep costs.

Also, some use of Chromalite® and the Calandre Fragonard® did modernize the model a bit. The SARA 3 still wouldn’t win beauty contests, but at still it looked like there had been some design study, instead of just slapping panels around…

Passenger side mirror optional - available only in Undercoat gret, obviously

Picture Summary

(forgot about the motor details)

Engine Details

Based on the SARA Armistice I3 engine line - 64.9 bore and 86.6 stroke for 861 cc max capacity, all cast pushrod

Capacity : long-stroked, 58.5x73.6, 592.6 cc
6.8 compression, single barrel eco carburetor tuned for french 89 RON regular, cast log header
20.3hp@4600, around 40 Nm@2500, 14.8% efficiency

Car Details

4654$ build cost (0 markup)

4 door - 5 seats, 2.06m wheelbase, 3.33m total
Front Longitudinal RWD
Steel monocoque chassis and panels
Mc Pherson (F), Semi Traling Arm ®, 2 gear manual

Weight : 589 kg
Fuel Economy : 7.9 l/100 (33.6 MPG US)

Max Speed : 91 km/h
1/4 mile : 29.25
Kilometer : 56.26
G : 0.668-0.642
Braking 0-100 : 62.4m

Airfield time : 2:38.14

Budget bash

The SARA 3 Turini 1100 S “Compétition Client”

Made in Modane *

Amédée Turini is adamant on not getting Modane confused with Modena. From Modane, you just take the pass over the alps, then down the mountain to Torino - a short, spirited drive. Then follow the Po river until you reach the city of those snooty italians carmakers

Amédée Turini’s success with the tuned Armistice 800 made him the official SARA tuner, giving him access to SARA dealerships in exchange for his help on designing sporting models.

Jeanneret established that there would be, both

  • a Turini trim : sportier engine and suspension tuning, bleu de france paint and sportier trims designed to make the car look faster, and a much bigger markup, shared (to a point) with Turini, but under control from the SARA engineers.

  • A SARA Turini model, aimed at competition, and directly tuned by Amédée Turini himself, that would be the base for the monomodel, promotion formula Formule SARA, and other sport/marketing events such as La coupe des Princesses - a competition reserved for women, quite a modern concept in the 50’s France where very few women had a license.

While the SARA 38 S “Turini” kept the inline 3 800 cc, both Chief marketing Léger and Turini felt the upper category, the 1100cc, would be the best fit with the new, much better chassis of the SARA 3.

With extra large tracks, wheel arches, and wheels, and an interior stripped of… Well, everything but safety equipments, the car was nimble and reached easily the 0.9g on the pad, quite a feature for the time…
While under the hood Turini, nicknamed the Sorcerer had made his magic with the “5CV Eco Marshall 1100 cc”, more than doubling its output so that the agricultural, pushrod I4 now delivered 70 hp - obviously, the fuel economy wasn’t the same though, and most owners took the habit of keeping a gallon of water somewhere in the car for emergency cooling of the overloaded radiator.

Nevertheless, at 764$ to produce (7092 corrected for inflation), and with the success of the promotion formulas, SARA could comfortably sell the Turini at 1000$ while barely being able to satisfy the demand.

Nowadays, these are collectors, both for their intrinsic value and their place in both SARA and Turini history…

Additionnal foglights for rallying optional

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Based on the SARA Marshall Family (pushrod, all iron I4 with max 72.5x96.7 mm = 1596 cc)

Capacity : 65.2x82.2, 1099 cc
9.7 compression, single DCOE carburetor tuned for french 98 RON super, short cast header
69.7 hp@5300, 97.6 Nm@4900, 9.8% efficiency
123.1 kg, 540.7$ ('18) cost

Car Details

7092 $ build cost (0 markup)

2 door - 2 seats, 2.06m wheelbase, 3.31m total
Front Longitudinal RWD
Steel monocoque chassis and panels
Mc Pherson, Semi Traling Arm, 4 gear manual

Weight : 754 kg
Fuel Economy : 16.6 l/100 (14.2 MPG US)

Max Speed : 754 km/h
0-100 km/h : 13.9
1/4 mile : 19.6
Kilometer : 37.1
G : 0.94-0.89
Braking 0-100 : 44.2m

Airfield time : 1:50.12


Modulor® engines designs frozen !

Lyon - 1955

The SARA is proud to inform the press and public that a whole new engine family will power the SARA cars in the near future, with the Modulor® 500 coming as soon as 1957 along with a whole new, large family SARA.

The smaller, Modulor® 331 and 331-3 engines, who will supersede the current Marshall and Armistice family, will be able to the general public in 1960.

These new engines favor state of the art design, using overhead cam technology (except for the 331-3, designed with utter compactness and lightness in mind)

With our partnership with the Rhône-Alpes Region aluminium founders now evolving into a merger with the Compagnie d’Aluminium du Grésivaudan, we are proud to announce that the Modulor® 500 will use lighter, stronger aluminium alloy heads (*), while the Modulor® 331 promises to be the lightest engines ever, being fully cast in aluminium !

(*) No guarantee for the strength of the head gaskets will be provided, though

We are currently opening discussions with @Private_Miros, CEO from PMI Polezny, to provide them with engines and technologies, under license. We look forward to that gesture of opening and peace in these troublesome years of tensions between the USA and USSR.

France, and the SARA, knows no enemy, and is always willing to help and share the talent of french engineering worldwide !


The all-new, front-wheel drive 1955 SARA 4

Presented model : SARA 414 TL

With the added dynamism from deputy platform engineer Seurat, Watteau, the chief platform engineer, quickly recognized the need for fresh ideas, and petitionned to push forward with Front Wheel Drive ; t was the hot topic of the moment, with Panhard and Citroën making extensive use of it with impressive success, and italian luxury carmaker Lancia reported to be interested.

As both the SARA 3 redesign and the Modulor® engine designs were ahead of schedule (a world premiere in project management), some funds and brains could be diverted to the SARA 4, the first truly new car of Jeanneret’s era.

Jeanneret’s brief on design was short - “Keep it simple !”, which further freed some time until Watteau was able to confirm the new car was to be FWD (but not transversal, he could only handle that much bold decisions).

The result was impressive, especially comparing the newer car to its ill-designed ancestor, using the same engine (though the tuning was corrected using the last years progresses…)

Car comparison between a Marshall and a SARA4

As one journalist wrote :

Getting from the Marshall to the SARA 4 gives the feeling you are Barjavel’s Voyageur imprudent. You go to sleep with a car that feels and drive like it was designed in the 30s, and you wake up with a car that drive like a car from the future […] Only this trip at least will be safe !

Fernand Léger, Chief Marketing, did a heavy use of these “future metaphors”, so much so that a alienated Amédée Turini, which, as a pilot, had a deep disdain for front wheel cars.

This led to Jeanneret validating a decision to keep the Coupé, an elegant fastback, much more modern in design than the sedan, as a RWD, as it would be mostly sold in “Turini” trim.

Jeanneret, knowing the vital role of Turini in spicing the otherwise bland image of SARA, even went to Modane to discuss with the Sorcerer.

“- Amédée (Turini), listen. We need to have front wheel drive for our everyday’s cars, and we need your cars to sell these cars, please, be reasonnable”
“- Calm down, François (Jeanneret). Please, don’t offend me, try that grappa. Here, we toast first, then we talk.
Actually, first, we toast, then we try some smoked ham from my Pappa, and then we talk”
"- coughs, try laboriously to catch his breath - “ohmygodohmygod what is this ? Even Poussin would find this strong”
“- This is grappa. Fruit alcool. You make the alcool, then you let it out in the cold nights. The water freezes, the alcohol doesn’t. Come the morning, you discard the water.
This is triple distillation. You can really smell the apple in it, eh ?”
“- But, there’s a toad in that bottle, too !”
“- Yeah, the aftertaste is not for everybody, but it adds some invigorating alcaloïds. The trick is to dessicate the toad first, then it slides easily in the bottle. Just like dried mushrooms”
“- Coughs some more. So, the, watchcallit, the front tyres thingy, we need it. And you. And your grappa. It is an acquired taste, but indeed I feel great”
“- What about I make my own company, my own cars, using your pieces as basis, and you pay for it ? Like a, a, brother company of yours ?”
“- Seems brillant. Hold my grappa while I sign the papers”.

Obviously, once a bit less drunk, Jeanneret would review the terms a bit, but the idea was indeed good. Making Turini an “independant” company allowed for more branding opportunities, while externalizing the costs associated with competition from SARA.
In the end, it was Poussin and Jeanneret that got the better part of the deal, but, in the meantime, it pleased everybody with the opportunity to build real sports car on one side, and real people movers on the others, with both sides benefitting from the others

Granpa', once more you forgot about the car !!!

Sorry, kids. Yeah, the 414 TL. Great car, I told you how much it was an improvement over the Marshall, for basically the same building costs.
For some weird reasons, this peaceful family car scored really high, 150 and more on the MARKETING STANDARDIZED AUTOMATION®, as a “fun car”, or a “Pony car”, whatever these were.

While not understanding a bit why, Bernard Ingres and Jean Poussin gladly accepted the fact, laughing all the way to the bank, as they say.

It cost about 675$ to produce (6261$ adjusted), which made it an easy sale up to 25% markup, completely unexpected in this prestige level.

Sure, its design remained bland, but you weren’t afraid you’d die at every corner, it moved (reasonnably) fast, in (some) comfort, and was economical. And there were some Chromalite® even on the lower trims !

And there were now different colors available : gray, and black, with beige offered with a supplement on the luxury trims !

Look, it is not undercoat grey !

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Based on the SARA Marshall Family (pushrod, all iron I4 with max 72.5x96.7 mm = 1596 cc)

Capacity : 72.5x84.7, 1398 cc (restroked to be less undersquare)
6.8 compression, single barrel carburetor tuned for french 89 RON regular, short cast header
51.6hp@4400, 95.1Nm@2700, 13.2% efficiency
125.5 kg, 440.3$ ('18) cost

Car Details

6261$ build cost (0 markup)

4 door - 5 seats, 2.49m wheelbase, 4.06m total
Front Longitudinal FWD
Steel monocoque chassis and panels
McPherson and semi-trailing arm
3 gear manual

Weight : 834 kg
Fuel Economy : 12.8 l/100 (19.6 MPG US)

Max Speed : 125 km/h
0-100 km/h : 19.5
1/4 mile : 21.9
Kilometer : 41.3
G : 0.75-0.72
Braking 0-100 : 56.4m

Airfield time : 2.02.62

530 kg load capacity

And what about the coupé, then ? 416 TS "Turini"

Bleu de France de rigueur

This is a “soft” tune, with 80 hp out of the 1600 cc OHV, but it manages to make the same time as the SARA 3 competition client on Airfield (1:49.84), reaching 149 km/h max speed and over 0.9g on the skidpad.
Yet, with the costs associated with the specific parts, it was a hard to sell car, costing over 1000$ (9645$ adjusted) to produce, and with a scarier drive even with the extra large tyres (and their impact on gas mileage and upkeep costs).

It is a collector today, most notably because, just like the SARA 3, it is the last “true” Turini sold under the SARA badge

Turini - Made in Modane
Budget bash

A glimpse into the future

From the SARA archives, the early draft from Jeanneret strategic planning that he intended to expose to the board and government in order to get a mandate renewal.

As our readers most certainly remember, he was given a six years mandate in 53, and, in the 57 summer, a few weeks before the Salon de Paris presentation of the Modulor 500 engine, he started to campaign for a second mandate, preparing the whole brand for the first half of the sixties, caregully opening some doors for further developments that would justify a third term.

Image archive courtesy of Le Journal de la Voiture

Obviously, this “leaked” just before the preliminary hearings, putting some pressure on the board as now the press went speculating about “Jeanneret’s plan for the next years”.
Not renewing him would now appear like a political firing, especially since he had been successul so far

Confirmed projects
  • With the SARA 3 covering segments A and B (supermini/subcompact), the SARA 4 a smash hit in the critical (in Europe) C segment (compacts/small families, the core of European market), the SARA 5 would go for the D segment (midsize / large family) - and be a FWD
  • Turini to be an “autonomous” (as written by Jeanneret) brand, to occupy the Light Sports segment, represent SARA in Motorsport, and as a sport trim for the main SARA lineup
  • The Percheron would be replaced by two new designs, branching offroaders as a specific Varappe niche model, with the Artisan as the Large Utility
  • Model branding using numerals for cars, common names for the utility vehicles
  • The outdated SARA 3 and Fourgonnette would last as long as possible, potentially futher than 1965
Unconfirmed/long term projects
  • SARA 4 not to be replaced under the 59-65 mandate
  • International expansion still unclear / unofficial
  • Depending on market evolution, and, possibly, the SARA 5 success, a foray into E/executive/fullsize segment might be possible, using two Modulor® engines in a V6 or V8 setup


1960 SARA 5 - Getting upmarket, and getting a partnership

With the SARA 3 and 4 huge successes, and the Modulor® development coming to fruition, Jeanneret only had a problem to solve before getting the SARA 5 on the market.
The styling.

Sure, Chief design Fragonard did a decent work, and his engineering culture helped him in designing cars that were very well suited to mass production while its grille helped having a coherent design language, but it was felt, within the company, that the upmarket clients wouldn’t be happy with the minimalist design cues Jeanneret and Fragonard liked.

Luckily, Jeanneret managed to reach an agreement with the PMI conglomerate, providing their Marshall and Quasi Diesel Mk1 engines for OOO PMI Polezniy Podolsk in exchange for a design study from the famed PMI Minerva NV/SA.
Through licensing, SARA brought some of its robustness fame to an emerging market, while the luxury Minerva signing brought some luster to SARA.

Though the reliability of the Modulor® 500 wasn’t what SARA expected, with the head gaskets suffering from the different dilatation temperatures of the iron block and the aluminium headers, Jeanneret kept the decision.
It was a sound investment, and the blown engines of today were the technological advance of tomorrow.
The tuning was kept mellow to avoid high rpms, and the cooling was slightly oversized to mitigate the troubles, reaching a decent reliability.


The first SARA 11CV since WW2 was a big challenge for the firm. Externalized styling, multiple color choice, and even some real chromes instead of the usual Chromalite®.

The brief was to reach 100 mph, with a great comfort and drivability, while being economic. Quite an impossible task, yet… They came quite close.

Sur, the roll angle didn’t make this car a kid’s favorite, but the PlastiCuir® fake leather was easy to clean whenever some little accident happened in the back seats - though the people quickly learned to not take the optional black interior option for fear of severe lap burns.

The build cost was around 1070$, and SARA started to sell them at 1500$, before understanding that their brand image didn’t allow them such large margins.
Sure, it was a decent “premium budget” offering, but not from a premium manufacturer. There was a market for the SARA 5, for sure, but people bought the car for its qualities, not the image, and soon the price went back to 1300 $.

If was quite innovative for its time, featuring FWD and fully independant suspensions, but also aluminium headers and a galvanised chassis. Expensive technologies, but Jeanneret was right in being forward-thinking there…

A gorgeous beige in the early morning sun

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Modulor® 500 I4, 86x86 max, 1998 cc, OHC, 2 valves, iron block and aluminium head

Capacity : 86x86, 1998 cc
7.0 compression, 2 barrel carburetor tuned for french 89 RON regular, short cast header
88 hp@4800, 141.8Nm@2900, 13.5% efficiency
146.1 kg, 703$ ('18) cost

Car Details

8998$ build cost (0 markup)

4 door - 5 seats, 2.68m wheelbase, 4.38m total
Front Longitudinal FWD
Galvanised Steel monocoque chassis, steel panels
4 gear manual

Weight : 999 kg
Fuel Economy : 13.8 l/100 (17 MPG US)

Max Speed : 158 km/h
0-100 km/h : 13.1
1/4 mile : 19.2
Kilometer : 35.3
G : 0.826-0.795
Braking 0-100 : 58.8m

Airfield time : missing


The lower trim ended being much more successful - it was a great family mover, fast enough to appeal to the “pony car” buyers and costing only 865$ to produce - meaning it could be sold for less than 4 figures, a significant psychological ceiling for most buyers.

I cannot thank @Private_Miros enough - here shown in brown, and with less Chromalite®

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Modulor® 500 I4, 86x86 max, 1998 cc, OHC, 2 vavles, iron block and aluminium head

Capacity : 83x73.1, 1581 cc
6.9 compression, eco carburetor tuned for french 89 RON regular, cast log header
56.1 hp@4800, 106.9Nm@2800, 13.7% efficiency
135.2 kg, 553.4$ ('18) cost

Car Details

7276$ build cost (0 markup)

4 door - 5 seats, 2.68m wheelbase, 4.38m total
Front Longitudinal FWD
Galvanised Steel monocoque chassis, steel panels
3 gear manual

Weight : 940 kg
Fuel Economy : 12.5 l/100 (19 MPG US)

Max Speed : 135 km/h
0-100 km/h : 19.3
1/4 mile : 21.9
Kilometer : 40.2
G : 0.77-0.75
Braking 0-100 : 56.2m

Airfield time : 2:00.22


New subsidiary companies

Turini - Made in Modane

Dedicated to light sports cars and motorsport cars

SOFIA - Société Orientale de Fabrication Industrialisée d'Automobile

With decolonisation, selling “Coloniales” vehicle to the emerging markets of Archana and Africa wasn’t an option anymore.
What’s more, the SARA factories set up in the (now former) french colonies had all been seized by the new governments.
Having assets seized by governments was business as usual for SARA, though, and Jeanneret quickly used his easter-block relations - and their need for occidental technology - to build a joint-venture with the Bulgarian government, one of the more “open” countries of the COMECON.

In less than a year, a brand new company was built in the suburbs of Sofia, Bulgary’s capital, smartly called the SOFIA.

It would be dedicated to the Low Compression variants of SARA engines, as well as rugged, inexpensive versions to be sold in eastern block / emerging countries markets.


More than welcome :slight_smile:


Next monday, hopefully, some new trucks and offroaders, and a designer that will most certainyl get himself fired…
But checking the stats for the original Varappe, it is waaay too good on some points, I’ll have to correct that and make it more consistent with the lore

Eyebrows, a nose and a moustache, really ? You think this
company is a joke, some sort of game where you can have fun ?


New trucks, and a designer change

Eugène Fragonard, the chief design engineer, was due to retirement in 1962, and Jeanneret had been impressed by the results of using an external design studio. So he made a call for tenders.

The brief implied to keep a continuity with the SARA identity, keeping the smiling gimmick, while asking the contenders to work on reinforcing the visual identity of the company.

That was a good plan, and with two vehicles due for 1961, the Varappe offroader and the Artisan truck, there was material enough for various proposals.

What wasn’t so smart was having Jean Poussin, the accountant principal, on the selecting comitee. Poussin was a close friend from Fragonard, and a closet drunkard.

Transcript of the audition with Henri Rousseau on his Varappe design

Jean Poussin - So, I read here that you are a toll collector by trade - you didn’t actually study design ?
Henri Rousseau - Indeed, I work on alcohol taxes and fraud. You wouldn’t imagine the weird stuff we see at work
Poussin and Fragonard - Believe us, we’re quite experienced in this. So, for the smiling fascia, what’s your plan ?
HR, bringing a bottle to the table - Try this, then. Some vitriol from Shaky Joe. We had to forbid this, customers went blind. As for the fascia, well, I think we should accentuate the smiles, go full anthropomorphic, see ?
Eugène Fragonard - coughs - This is brutal indeed. Reminds me of what we drank during the war in that small cafe, with the girl, remember, Jean ?
JP - tasting and coughing too - Lulu from Nantes ? Smells a bit like apples
HR - There are. Obviously some sawdust too, gives the aftertaste. So, I thought, we could use the turning lights as eyebrows, see…
EF - Apples ? I’d have said beetroots
HR - Yes, there are, too. And, you know, that winch, that could do the nose
JP and EF - Show us what you have !
HR shows the design
JP - Brillant !
EF - It misses something. Ought to have a moustache, or something
HR - 'xactly. Hold my vitriol while I draw it… Like this ?
JP and EF - You’re hired !

WIthout further delay, let us present you the happiest offroader ever :slight_smile:

The 1961 SARA Varappe 250, with 2500D Quasi-Diesel

The design was… Well, what it was. Probably not the smartest ever for an offroader, and somewhat unbalanced with the facetious front fascia not quite fitting with its uncompromising offroader workhorse nature.
It featured numerous bakelite (early plastic) protections, and well thought-out but poorly designed steps on the rear panels to facilitate access to the roof loading. They were useful, but also a great spot for humidity, then rust to settle. To maximize space inside the car, the spare tire was mounted on the trunk lid, again a well though but poorly designed setup since the rear trunk hinges were top mounted, no lateral. It required a lot of strength to open that trunk, and most users chose to load the trunk from the rear bench instead.

Still, it had amazing offroad abilities, above 80 on the MARKETING STANDARDIZED AUTOMATION®, good economy, excellent reliability, and, with the various trims, also was a true utility vehicle should the need arise. And it cost just above 1000$ to produce (8500$ adjusted), which, in an emerging market, was truly competitive and helped mitigating the moustache.

Being nicknamed “Sergeant Garcia” didn’t kill the Varappe career, thanks to its amazing offroad skills

The rear view shows some almost smart designs, sadly badly executed to the point of uselessness

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Quasi Diesel Mk2 Family (90x120 all iron pushrod I4)

Capacity : 81x120, 2473 cc
7.1 compression, 2x single barrel eco carburetor tuned for french 92 RON “diesel”, cast log header
56.5 hp@330, 167.5Nm@1600, 16.4% efficiency
187.6 kg, 837.3$ ('18) cost

Car Details

8948 $ build cost (0 markup)

5 door - 5 seats, 2.56m wheelbase, 4.20m total
Front Longitudinal 4x4
Steel ladder chassis, steel panels
4 gear manual

Weight : 1308 kg
Fuel Economy : 15.6 l/100 (15.7 MPG US)

Max Speed : 111 km/h
0-100 km/h : 30.5
1/4 mile : 23.25
Kilometer : 44.4
G : 0.55-0.54
Braking 0-100 : 80.3 m

Airfield time : 2:16.75

1187 kg tow - 588.7 kg load capacity


1961 Artisan Plateau lourd

After the Varappe tender, the CEO, Jeanneret, took control of the selection comitee, and, in an unprecedented move, forbid alcohol from the meetings.

While this appears to be a reasonnable mood, though, hangover headaches still impeded the comitee’s works, and they settled quickly for the proposal from Jérôme Bosch (no relation with the parts supplier, though this follow the usual trend in the naming), even though it offered more flourishes and Chromalite® than even the higher end SARA 5.
At a time where chrome was starting to get out of fashion, this was indeed a surprising choice, especially in a heavy duty truck.

And, while the front fascia was overdesigned, the back was very bland, Bosch justifying it by the fact that this was a work truck, and that chromes in the back would have a short lifespan, Chromalite® even shorter obviously

Thanks to its huge 3 liters Quasi Diesel engine and sturdy suspensions, the Artisan, while it drove badly, managed to tow its weight easily, and could bear a load of twice its weight, well over two tons, reaching the 3.5 metric tons that, in France, is the limit before requiring specific truck licenses.

It also featured an optional PTO and 380V electrical outlet, making it a jack of all trades. And, once again, it was very conservatively priced (Chromalite® isn’t expensive…), at about 1100$ (8584$ adjusted) for the “Plateau Lourd” (heavy pickup) configuratin with the large 3 liters engine.

That’s a ***load of Chromalite®

Rear view showing the power outlet on the left, the PTO is underneath the skip

Picture Summary

Engine Details

Quasi Diesel Mk2 Family (90x120 all iron pushrod I4)

Capacity : 90x120, 3054 cc
7.0 compression, two single barrel eco carburetor tuned for french 92 RON “diesel”, short cast header
72.6 hp@3200, 205.9Nm@1400, 16.6% efficiency
195.6 kg, 889.3$ ('18) cost

Car Details

8249$ build cost (0 markup)

2 door - 3 seats, 2.92m wheelbase, 5.10m total
Front Longitudinal RWD
Steel ladder chassis and panels
4 gear manual

Weight : 1277 kg
Fuel Economy : 15.9 l/100 (15.7 MPG US)

Max Speed : 100 km/h
0-100 km/h : 20.3
G : 0.52-0.51
Braking 0-100 : 70 m

Airfield time : 2:13,74

1345 kg tow - 2215 kg load capacity


any car with yellow headlights i instantly like, and these are no exception + the lore is very good as well


Thanks a lot !

Yellow lights were mandatory in france until somewhere in the 90’s (as far as I can remember… I definitely drove those)

To be hobest though white is much more comfortable in night driving


I think 1992?


From what I read they weren’t really “mandatory” after the war, it’s just that you could have them, and most had them. They became prohibited in 1993