The Arquus Heritage Foundation inaugurates its Conservatory

Created a year ago, the French manufacturer Arquus' Endowment Fund for Heritage inaugurated on June 17 in Garchizy (Nièvre) the Arquus Conservatory. The objective of this Conservatory is to inventory, list, contextualize, showcase and present the objects, documents, vehicles constituting the history of Arquus or historical brands that are part of the company's heritage. This Conservatory already brings together more than 70 military vehicles from Arquus collections, as well as very promising donations and partnerships.
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The ERC (Engin à Roues Canon) is a highly mobile reconnaissance and combat vehicle, optionally NBC-proof. While various models were tested, only two versions of the ERC entered production in large numbers: the ERC-90 Lynx and the ERC-90 Sagaie. The main difference between the two versions is the type of turret and 90 mm gun fitted. Sagaie is French for assegai, a type of African spear. (Picture source: Arquus)

On June 17, Emmanuel Levacher, President of Arquus, received numerous personalities from the civil and military worlds and the administration on the site of the « Conservatoire des Trois Glorieuses », at the Center for Maintenance in Operational Condition (CMCO) in Garchizy (58). This Arquus Heritage Conservatory was created by the Arquus Heritage Department as part of a vast project to cultivate the roots of the Group and its most prestigious historic brands, Panhard, Renault, Berliet, ACMAT, Auverland, and many others.

The Conservatory is supplied by the current industrial sites of Arquus: Marolles-en-Hurepoix, historic site of Panhard, with in particular the AML, EBR, VBL; Saint-Nazaire, historic ACMAT site with the VLRA; Limoges, a production site for military engines since the 1930s, then a production site, notably for VABs and GBC180s for the Army. It is nourished by foundations, museums, but also private collectors.

The challenge is to first assemble vehicles from the post-World War 2 period, whether or not in service with the French and foreign armed forces, such as the EBR, AML, VAB or even the GBC 8KT truck.

Secondly, the Conservatory set itself the objective of finding vehicles older, wheeled or tracked, belonging to its historical heritage. Some of these vehicles, belonging to the Musée des Blinés located in Saumur, were presented on June 17 in front of the premises of the Conservatory, as well as the FT, the «Victory tank» in 1918, the Somua tank, the Renault UE35 tankette or the B1Bis tank.

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The B1Bis of the Musée des Blindés (here displayed at Bovington for Tankfest 2018) was displayed at the inauguration of the Arquus Heritage Foundation's Conservatory  (Picture source: Army Recognition)

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The EBR (Panhard Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance, Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle) was designed by Panhard for the French Army and later used across the globe, notably by the French Army during the Algerian War and the Portuguese Army during the Portuguese Colonial War in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. (Picture source: Arquus)

An Arquus Heritage Endowment Fund has been created in order to collect funds, bequests or provision, under the law on patronage (1983) to support the Arquus approach for the benefit of Heritage. It is for this reason that the Conservatory was able to carry out development work with a view to the exhibition on June 17, and receive donations and loans of vehicles that were lacking in its collection.

Thus, the Conservatory already houses around ten vehicles from the Musée des Blindés (Saumur) made available by the Army, the Paul Legueu collection, a gift from the family of the founder of ACMAT and a VLRA provided by M. Fortin, a private collector. Two turrets – the Mistral turret offered by MBDA and the 25mm turret sold by John Cockerill – join the collection respectively on a VBL and the CRAB. The oldest vehicle in this exhibition is a Berliet CBA from 1916, provided by the Berliet Foundation, as well as a GBC 8KT from its Conservatoire du Montellier (69).

This inauguration provided the opportunity to present an exhibition by the Renault-Histoire Association, devoted to the life of the Renault factories in Boulogne Billancourt during the First World War. This Conservatory will now be open by appointment, pending further development towards public reception in the years to come.

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The ACMAT VLRA (Véhicule de Liaison, de Reconnaissance et d'Appui) succesfully took part to some legendary competitions like the Rallye Paris-Dakar  (Picture source: Arquus)