By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of the Author unless otherwise acknowledged.
Abrex are a Czech firm who have models diecast in China to 1:43 scale. Their models have previously been cast by Hongwell and the latest model looks like a Hongwell production as well. The focus of the Abrex range in recent years has been Skoda cars and in particular the later releases produced after they were taken over by Volkswagen. But in between the new cars they have produced models of the older cars produced when they were behind the iron curtain.
In recent times Abrex output had slowed down and the retail model shop associated with them in Prague stopped trading. Just a few months before that they had announced an intention to make the 136 Rapid but when contacted on Facebook they said that it was unlikely to be released. Turn the clock forward a couple of years and to my surprise an Italian model shop trading on eBay advertised Abrex Skoda 136 Rapid models in various colours and in right and left hand drive. Since then I have also seen the models listed by UK importers.
So why all the interest? I owned two Skoda Estelles, a 120 and a 130. I found them comfortable, quick enough to keep up and reliable. The jokes about Skodas were commonplace, but Skoda owners had the last laugh as the contemporary UK built cars were not noted for reliability or build quality but cost a lot more. What is more Skodas were fun to drive once you got used to the tail heavy handling and light steering. The interior plastics were crude but they stood up to kids and life in general. I always hankered after a 136 Rapid after the famous Autocar review proclaiming it to be “As Much Fun as a 911” , see cover reproduced below. But two door cars and young children did not mix so I never had the chance to buy one.
So to the Abrex model. This captures the lines of the original vehicles very well. To my eyes the 136 was quite a balanced design and the model catches the fact that the car has a complex series of curved surfaces – no box shapes here.
The black paint is not as even as it could be, though it appears to have a clear acrylic coat over the top to give it a nice shine. This is quite appropriate as Skoda black paint often showed an ‘orange peel’ texture.
The wheels are not bad replicas of the original ones which were British. The empty containers going back to Skoda from the UK were full of Goodyear tyres, UK sourced sun roof mechanisms, and UK sourced alloy wheels. In return most cars sold in the UK were fitted with those items which added to the showroom appeal.
The rear of the car with the badging and large rear lights as well as the exhaust pipe and the matt bumpers is all very well modelled. Underneath the base plate has been given some detail and the spare wheel which sat at the front under the luggage space has also been modelled in showing above the front cross member.
Inside the car is all black but that is exactly what the real one was often like. The door cards and dashboard are neatly moulded with quite a bit of detail. The instruments are also moulded in though none are highlighted in any way. The steering wheel looks accurate too.
There are a few minor issues with the car in RHD form. Firstly, the sunroof should have been scribed on this car as to my memory this model was always fitted with a sun roof. Secondly, the Czech number plates need swapping for UK ones. something I may do later.
All in all though a good model of a largely forgotten car of which only a handful remain in the UK, and for me a reminder of reading that particular edition of Autocar and wishing I could own the real thing.
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