Bernard Cournil was busy from 1960's selling the american Hotchkiss Jeep, selling and repairing tractors and forestry equipment and vehicles in central France and his experience led him to develope a vehicle that could be used both on the road and in the fields.
Back in 1948 a certain Maurice Wilks of Rover Cars had the similar idea...(for the less knowledgeable ones ask wikipedia: Who was Maurice Wilks)
Over a period of 12 years and with the help of his son, Cournil produced 850 examples of this multipurpose 4x4 vehicle. His design known simply as Cournil was well liked by the French farmers and fo reasons that are unclear in 1977 Cournil sold the licence for his design to Gervarm, a small tractor manufacturer and subsidiary of the Gevelot organisation. Around the same time a licence was also sold to a well established Portuguese manufacturer, Uniao Metalo Mecanica (UMM) Lisbon.
The Cournil was simple, robust and functional, attributes that ensured military appeal and in 1977 the inevitable militarised variant was shown for the first time at the Satory Military Exhibition (now Eurosatory).
The military Cournil was branded the SAMO, although very briefly appears to have been known as the FENNEC
By the late 1970's the TAG Vechiles Group had established itself as the UK importer/distributor for the Cournil vehicle.
Gervarm's association with the Cournil ended in March 1980 and from December 1980 the design was in the hands of SIMI (Societe International de Material Industrial) , apparently a consortium of former Gervarm employees and managers. By November 1981 SIMI was owned by the Belin Group.
Le petit constructeur Cournil, installe dans le Cantal, proposait dès 1961 le " tracteur Cournil ", un 4 x 4 aussi bien adapte à la ville qu'à la neige ou aux champs. Malheureusement, l'entreprise etait mise en liquidation judiciaire en 1970, après avoir construit environ 1200 vehicules. La concurrence des tracteurs agricoles qui se modernisaient et devenaient plus confortables, la progression dans l'offre des utilitaires, et l'absence de remise en question du Cournil avaient affaibli sont attrait. Jusqu'en 1977, Alain, le fils du fondateur Bernard Cournil, assura tout de même la production de 53 autres exemplaires.
La licence de cet engin fut cedee en 1977 à la societe Uniao Metalo Mecanica (UMM), implantee au Portugal. Ce constructeur pouvait diffuser ce 4 x 4 là où il le souhaitait, sauf en France. Helas, ce contrat ne fut pas scrupuleusement respecté. Par rapport à Cournil, les méthodes de production d'UMM furent améliorées afin d'accroître les volumes. Le 4 x 4 portugais prenait le nom d'Alter en 1980.
En 1977, en France, la fabrication etait transferee dans une nouvelle usine à Saint Germain Laval. Celle ci appartenait au groupe Gevelot. Un nouveau proprietaire, la SIMI, reprenait le flambeau en 1980. Environ 560 vehicules virent alors le jour. En 1986, Cournil devenait Auverland sous la présidence de François Servanin, un concessionnaire BMW de la region parisienne.
COURNIL / AUVERLAND / UMM History - 1980
Autoland -Gevarm revende a actividade Cournil a sociedade SIMI.
The drawings below by
Hubert Cossard show the original Jeep-bodied version and the later Cournil-built body.
Still in 1982, Francois Servanin, BMW dealer of Boulogne Billancourt, bought the plant and created brand Auverland that came out the A3 in 1986 and marked the end of the famous hood of Cournil. The A3, entirely new vehicle was also sold to government and military markets. In civilian life, this car was distinguished by its numerous awards in trial 4x4 competition earned thanks to its long travel suspension.
En 1984, Cournil entró nuevamente en negociaciones, esta vez con la empresa francesa Gevarm, filial del grupo Gevelot, fabricante de armas y municiones. Al parecer se creó una efímera marca denominada SAMO, con la intención de comercializar el UMM 4x4 portugués en Francia. Más tarde, se creó la empresa S.N.A.A., (Societe nouvelle des automobiles Auverland), que asumió Samo y desapareció Cournil como marca. Ese mismo año, Francois Servanin fundó la empresa Auverland, S.A., como sucesora de la empresa S.N.A.A., (Societe nouvelle des automobiles Auverland. ).
In 1970 Bernard Cournil's son, Alain, took over the company, and from 1971 to 1977 produced 50 - 80 vehicles. 1976 saw negotiations start with Gevarm, Stemat, and UMM for the production and sale of the Cournil 4x4 design. In 1977 Gevarm Gevelot group took over the company and manufacturing was transferred to Saint-Germain Laval. Soon they were selling Cournil 4x4s to local authorities and government bodies. UMM were given a licence to produce the Cournil in Portugal. As part of this licence agreement however, they were not allowed to sell their vehicles in France. In 1980 the Gevarm business was acquired by the Societe I.D.M.I. company (SIMI) who produced the SIMI-Cournil and in 1983/84 the vehicle was briefly renamed as the Autoland. In 1985 Auverland. took over the business and after this the vehicle was marketed as the Auverland.
Built mostly by hand his products gradually used more and more proprietary components, built by Cournil or especially for them. Production had still only reached a total of 850 units (most sold locally in the Massif Central region) by 1972.
After filing bankruptcy in 1970 Bernard's son Alain took over, building 53 units between 1971 and 1977. This was a dark period for the small firm in spite of Bernard's close cooperation; Alain's operation was run out of a small garage rather than a factory and with credit hard to come by development came to a standstill. In 1977 the Cournils decided to sell the operation to two firms: the French rights went to arms company Gevarm, of the "Groupe Gevelot", while the rights to market areas outside of the domain of the French were sold to UMM of Portugal. This was also when the business was relocated from Aurillac to Saint-Germain-Laval. In 1980 the firm was taken over by SIMI of the Belin group, who built another 560 units until 1984, again mainly for government use. In 1984 Auverland took over, introducing a redesigned body for their "A3" in 1986.