ELBO (standing for Elliniki Viomihania Ohimaton, English translation: Hellenic Vehicle Industry), is a Greek vehicle manufacturer based in Thessaloniki. Although it certainly is neither the oldest, nor the most “Greek” in its original technology (it was founded in 1972 after an agreement with Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Austria), it is one that managed to survive the evolutions that basically wiped out the Greek motor industry in the 1980s and 1990s, as it was the only state-owned company in its field.
It started business as Steyr Hellas S.A. assembling and manufacturing trucks, motorbikes and farm tractors (Steyr and Puch models). Significant orders for trucks and buses by the Greek Army and state authorities soon gave momentum to the company (some say, at the expense of other manufacturers). The tractor division declined in the 1980s, as the company focused on military vehicles; in 1986 it changed its name to ELBO
The Greek company’s first original designs were a 3-tonne truck in 1980 (not industrially produced) and a military bus (chassis and body) in 1981. In the same year it undertook the construction of “its own” Leonidas Armored Personnel Carrier (in fact Steyr’s 4K 7FA model built with minor modifications, again with progressively increasing local content). In 1987 ELBO introduced Leonidas-2, this time with significant modifications of its own. Hundreds were built, while a number of different versions were proposed.
In the years that followed, ELBO became a major producer of military and civilian trucks for a variety of uses (all based on Steyr models), engines (Steyr types, many for export to the Austrian company itself), military jeeps (Mercedes-Benz G-Class under licence), customized vehicles and machinery, and buses, with significant exports.