The Seiko Proto, an American truck on the Dakar.

Seiko's American military truck. The Seiko Proto.

El Seiko Proto, un camión americano en el Dakar.

At the Dakar in 1982, Seiko, in collaboration with L’Hôtel Guy-Louis Duboucheron, commissioned Jean-Louis Raimondi's workshops to create an impressive 8 × 8 truck.

The Seiko Proto was made on the basis of American military trucks type M-35 (manufactured since 1950 by Reo, Kaiser and Studebaker). These trucks had an original 6 × 6 configuration, so it was necessary to cut, adapt and join two M-35 chassis to build the prototype. The original block of 6 cylinders in line and 130 hp was replaced by a Deutz V8 diesel engine supercharged by two KKK turbochargers that delivered 350 hp at 2,400 rpm. The engine remained in its original position on the front axles, behind the pilot and passenger seats. To transmit all this power to the ground, a 6-speed ZF sequential gearbox was chosen. The suspensions were also improved by adding single-acting shock absorbers to the leaf springs.

seiko-proto dakar

A monocoque body was mounted on this new chassis, formed by a structure of square steel tubes covered with polyester panels with a total length of 9.12m which, despite its enormous overhangs, enjoyed good angles of attack (45º). and exit (35º). The front overhang mounted the cabin with 4 doors and two rows of seats, while the spare wheels were housed in the rear overhang. The central-rear area was a comfortable room where stage winners were presented with champagne, gourmet dinners and invited to sleep as part of the team's advertising strategy. It was also equipped with a shower, a real luxury in those early dakares. It is said that once the truck had to be refueled by plane and the trip was used to order some boxes of fresh oysters.

seiko-proto dakar

On January 1, 1982, the Seiko Proto 8 × 8 Nº389 piloted by Allain Galland, Jean-Louis Raimondi and the hotelier businessman Guy-Louis Duboucheron started the 4th edition of the Paris-Dakar. The gearbox bearings deteriorated rapidly and their breakage forced the Seiko Proto to abandon in the seventh stage between Gao and Mopti. Of the rest of the Seiko team, only the Buggy Cotel Nº140 in 48th position and the Toyota BJ Nº343 in 69th position finished the test. The Seiko Proto returned to the Jean-Louis Raimondi workshops on the outskirts of Paris, where it was parked in the open for several years until it was supposedly destroyed by fire, although accounts of the end of this truck are confusing. Some say that he was rescued by Allain Gallard and that he finished his days refurbished and converted into an Off-Road bus in Morocco (where he was photographed in December 2005), others say that this bus is a second prototype with a slightly different bodywork, even Some speculate that it could be a Seiko Proto-inspired setup on a 4-axle construction truck chassis. The only thing that all versions agree is that the Seiko Proto 8 × 8 has not reached our days.

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