By Fabrizio Panico
This time we have one more bus from Italy and two from France. All from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.
No. 13 (not in the French collection, at least for the moment) Fiat 418 AC/M Menarini 1975 – A typically urban bus, produced by the Italian Fiat bus manufacturer from 1972 onwards. Adopted in all the large cities of Italy, this urban bus has had an unprecedented commercial success: over 6,000 were produced and its legendary strength and mechanical characteristics of reliability and low consumption extended its working life well after the year 2000. Beside the standard Fiat body, as usual named “Cameri” from the site of the plant near Novara, two 418 chassises (AC and AM, short and long version) were available to outside specialised bodywork manufacturers like Portesi, Pistoiesi, Breda, Dalla Via, Padane and Menarini.
Menarini was established in Bologna in 1919 building horse drawn carriages and car components. From 1925 it started producing buses and trucks bodies for Fiat chassis. After the war the transition from wood to metal for interiors allowed a great growth, but in the 1980s an excess of prudence by ownership (favouring self-financing over a bank loan) slowed the expansion and made the company weaker in the face of competition, especially foreign competition, leading to its acquisition by Breda.
An articulated version was produced by Macchi and Viberti. The 418 was equipped with the Fiat 8200.12 diesel engine, a flat straight six, placed centrally under the floor, of 9,819cc developing 143 kw of power. Some versions had an automatic gearbox, but a manual gearbox was available.
The model has a plastic body and a very light metal baseplate, with few details. The livery is dark green and light green, typical of the period, and the logos are of the ACNA of Trieste. It has quite nice wheels, and a well detailed the driver area, with a full dashboard and levers. The interior is quite basic (but it was indeed a very “Spartan” bus), note the presence of the conductors seat with its tickets machine. The doors and the windows are well executed as are the two rear mirrors and the wipers.
In the French collection (no. 53) there is another Fiat 418, a 1972 Cameri from the AMT of Genova, the body is a bit different (doors, front lights and windscreen), the livery is orange and grey. It will be used as a gift to the subscribers to the Italian collection. We’ll see it later on.
No. 14 (no. 7 in the French collection) Chausson APH 1950 – Société des usines Chausson was a French manufacturing company, based in the Paris region from 1907, supplier of components to the automotive industry, like radiators, tanks and exhaust systems. Chausson added car bodies to its range of specialities after the 1930s when, following the acquisition of Chenard & Walcker and a Budd licence, focused its attention on unitary bus bodies.
During the post war boom, by now with Peugeot and Renault its principal shareholders, and merged with Brissonneau and Lotz, Chausson also produced bodies for light commercial vehicles and smaller volumes coupés such as the Renault Floride/Caravelle, the Opel GT and the Citroën SM. Chausson closed in 2000.
The use of a self-supporting metal bodywork instead of the traditional use of a separate chassis lightened the weight of the vehicle and made it more efficient at constant engine power.
According to the directives of the “Pons Plan” for the modernisation and reconstruction of the industry, Chausson started producing buses and coaches derived from its first 1942 prototype, the KOM, at first named APE (petrol Panhard engine), and then followed by the APH (diesel Panhard engine) and the AH (petrol Hotchkiss engine). To accommodate the longer Hotchkiss engine it was necessary to extend its front cover, and to standardise it: it created the “nez de cochon” or “pig nose”. It was a wide success, but already by 1952 the AP52 had a new body style, with a flat front. But the thousands of buses supplied to many French cities during the first 1950s allowed for a long lasting memory of the “nez de cochon”, much loved by all the French. Then in 1959 Saviem acquired all their buses activities and Chausson left that market.
Plastic body and metal baseplate for a quite heavy model with a bland livery, light green and cream.
No indications of a transport company, only the Chausson logos, but the registration plate is from the Isère department, very likely Grenoble (in southeastern France) and the destination plate says Vienne, a commune of the same department, 20 mi south of Lyon, once a major center of the Roman empire. The front lights, rear mirrors and the “nez de cochon” are all nicely reproduced, but the wipers are only engravings on the screen. The drivers area is well reproduced with the typical engine cover, and the windows. There is a nice luggage rack on the roof complete with a small folded ladder at the back. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
No. 15 (no. 11 in the French collection) Citroen type 23R series U Chassaing 1947 – The Citroen type 23 was presented at the 1935 Paris Motor Show as a light truck with a payload of only 1,500 kg. Powered by the 1911 cc petrol engine of the “Traction” mounted in reverse (driving the rear wheels through a specially developed gearbox) and with an inverted direction of rotation.
It had a maximum speed of 70 km/h. In 1936, the company offered a diesel version, in 1940 its chassis was extended by 37 cm in wheelbase and named 23L, to became 23R the following year with hydraulic braking and a reinforced chassis. It was a very basic truck, but here simplicity equalled reliability, and that’s what users need. In 1953 it was equipped with a new monocoque cabin, its production lasted until the late 1960s, and over 120,000 were sold.
A very small model, if compared to the previous ones, but of extreme elegance in its dark green and white livery. Metal body and plastic chassis, with double rear wheels and a spare wheel under the chassis. It is a torpedo body, with four rows of seats, each with its own windscreen, and it is very well detailed. The drivers area is well reproduced, with even the pedals reproduced. The radiator grille and the front lights are very nice. Even the folding top fittings are modelled on the body sides. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
It is the reproduction of one of two petrol type 23R ordered, in bare chassis form, by the company of coaches Rocamadour-Georges du Tarn in 1947 and bodied as sixteen seater torpedos by Chassaing, in Martel, Lot department. It was used until 1964 on the line Rocamadour-Aurillac-Cahors and the Gorges of the Tarn, the second torpedo having been destroyed in an accident. This company was mainly concerned with tourist traffic: pilgrimages, excursions to the sea, weddings and the like. A tour like that could last a whole week and in that case a baggage trailer would be towed. The vehicle modelled has survived and has been restored in the original colours by a local enthusiasts club.
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