By MAZ WOOLLEY with a little help from friends
This 1:43 scale series is distributed in several countries in Europe but not here in the UK. Much of the series seems to be devoted to US, French and Soviet Presidential vehicles but amongst them is an ‘odd fellow’. Based upon an Austin A135 Sheerline chassis this Belgian coachbuilt car, is a strange inclusion given the fact that as Atlas say ‘The Austin Sheerline convertible that accompanies this booklet was not an official royal car…’. One suspects that because the car had been displayed at the then owner’s ‘Musée Automobile des Voitures de Chefs d’États’ at the Château de Montjalin, Avallon.
Atlas sent pictures of all the cars in the Museum to Norev who tooled up for it before it was realised that it wasn’t really a ‘Head of State’ car. Having funded the model, and as it doesn’t really sit in any of their other series, I guess they used it anyway. This is, of course, all pure conjecture.
The car modelled was unique. It was commissioned in 1949 from the Belgian coachbuilder Vesters and Neirinck of Brussels by Mr Gillet of the motorcycle manufacturer Gillet-Herstal. Originally founded in 1920 Vesters and Neirinck bodied high-quality makes including Minerva, Rolls-Royce and Bentley. After the Second World War the firm bodied a couple of Delages, a Delahaye and this Austin Sheerline before concentrating on commercial vehicles. The body resembles the work of the French coachbuilder Saoutchik. The car was partly restored and has recently been auctioned in Belgium.
The Atlas model is rather nice, with the Winged ‘A’ mascot very neatly produced and a good grille too. All the bumpers and lights are neatly modelled, the wheels, hub caps and tyres are excellently done and the tampo printing is good. There is a number plate at the rear but none at the front. The triple windscreen wipers are small black plastic items which are better than tiny photo-etched ones, which have no depth at all.
The interior has a lot of moulded detail with the winders for the glass division between front and rear in place and the glass division is modelled in the ‘up’ position. Door fittings are moulded in as well, and the dashboard has the square instruments moulded-in but without any print detail. In black it doesn’t really reproduce what is said to be a fine art deco dashboard. There is some very limited moulding on the baseplate which cries “budget model”. Finally, all my door handles are reasonably straight, but from pictures I have seen this is not always the case.
Many thanks to Graeme Ogg for his translation skills and to the Consultant Editor and Founder for his detective work finding out more about this car. Thanks also to French car collectors bulletin boards with sections devoted to this series.
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