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Form Or Function?

People often ask me, “Bob, what the hell is that?” pointing to my Sovamag TC10. (Pictured above).
Well, I say, back in the 1960s there was this French car builder called André Morin who produced a nice little line in beautifully formed 2-seater sports cars under the brand name Sovam which is an acronym for SOcieté des Vehicules André Morin.

Unfortunately for André, his cars were never big sellers and so he eventually quit the car market and instead began manufacturing tractors and moving walkways for airports.

But then during the 1980s, and despite not having produced any road cars for over 10 years, Sovam became involved with the French government in designing a 4×4 vehicle for military use that would not be just another Land Rover copy. The design was to be purely functional, no concessions whatsoever to form. It had to be easy to repair by the roadside, able to carry a good payload (1.5 tonnes) capable of towing 3.5 tonnes and be versatile. For this venture, Sovam had been joined by one André Goldman and when the TC10 was eventually ready, his initials were added to the Sovam brand and the name Sovamag was born.

They were never sold to the public in France, the vast majority were shipped overseas to military bases in its colonies and very few ever returned. They’re auctioned off occasionally and I’d had an eye out for one for a couple of years, as a good, rugged 4×4 is essential when you’re moving logs & timber about.
It’s the best truck I’ve ever had, (so far) and over the past year I have fallen deeply in love with it. Di, by contrast, finds being a passenger in it a horrendous ordeal. The lack of insulation of any kind makes it feel and sound like the engine is in the cab with you. The squeaks, rattles, whirring shaft noises and bangs which accompany the driving experience require that, in order for us to converse, we must shout at each other at the tops of our voices. And just like any proper 4×4 it can also be a bit skittish on the road, so a good grip on the steering wheel is essential. Glancing out of the side window to admire the view could easily result in veering off the road, so it requires some serious concentration when driving.
Sovam are now a very successful manufacturer and their vehicles can be seen working at any French airport, but their success only appears to have really taken off once they ditched their ideas of designing for form and instead concentrated on pure functionality and that, for me at least, is where the real beauty of the TC10 lies.