Category Archives: Ixo

Chevy II 1962

By John Quilter

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

I recently learned that a partworks series from Argentina includes some interesting cars that are the same as some sold in the USA in the era. That is true of their Chevrolet 400 4 Puertas [Four Door] (1962) which is a exact duplicate of the car sold in the USA as a Chevy II. This was Chevrolet’s late answer to the very successful Ford Falcon. The partworks model is diecast and is very well done with proper chrome pieces, small standard hubcaps, blackwall tires, black interior and some chassis detail. These Chevy II cars were launched for the 1962 model year and came from the start with a four door sedan, two door sedan, pillarless hardtop, convertible and four door station wagon.

They were produced in the USA through 1965 with only minor trim and grill variations. The concept of this very conventional car was the answer to the Falcon which well outsold the radically designed rear engine Corvair which was Chevrolet’s initial “compact” offering for the 1960 model year.

Interestingly, the Corvair continued in parallel to the Chevy II although it was positioned as a more sporting member of the line up after the Chevy II took up the mainstream compact market niche. The Chevy II was launched with both a 153 cubic inch four cylinder engine or a 194 cubic inch inline six. In later years the engine choices expanded to include a 230 CID six, and in 1964, to the ubiquitous 283 V8 and by 1965 even a 327 CID version. Transmissions were generally the column shifted three speed manual or the two speed Powerglide automatic.

This model from Argentina is made by Premium Collectibles Trading, a huge Macau based Chinese production operation and the umbrella group of many brands of models such as Premium X, Ixo, Ixt. They are also sub-contracted to produce models for: DeAgostiniAtlas Editions, Altaya, HachetteWhite Box and others. They produce models in resin as well as diecast. Maybe since this one is in diecast it will have a longer production life and appear in other PCT or third party ranges over time. In fact, there are a number of items in these country specific partworks ranges, such as the Mexican range  which I believe would have an appeal in other countries. Otherwise it’s up to the buyer to find sources on auction sites who are making these available to the diehard international collector like the writer. Sometimes, with this hobby it’s all about the discovery and the chase.

The only improvement I would make to this item is a black wash to the grill.


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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 9

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Parts 25 to 27

One more French bus, a British one (but bodied in Malta), and a German one : a lovely triplet from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1/43 bus models, very similar to the French one “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.

 

No. 25 (no. 18 in the French collection) Citroën type 46 DP UAD 1955 – André Citroën was a graduate of the École Polytechnique in Paris in 1900. In that year he visited Poland where he bought the patent to a set of gears with a fish-bone structure, less noisy and more efficient, leading to the invention that is credited to him: double helical gears, the inspiration of the double chevron logo of the Citroën brand itself. After being a successful director of the Mors automobile company and establishing its own mechanical company, during the Great War he was responsible for mass production of armaments. Realising that the end of the war would leave him with a modern factory without a product, he decided to switch to automobile manufacturing. He intended to make a light car of good quality, but made in sufficient quantities to be low priced. André founded the Citroën automobile company in 1919, leading it to become the fourth-largest automobile manufacturer in the world by the early 1930s. A pioneer not only in the automotive field, but also in advertising, sales and even toys, obviously he couldn’t ignore commercial vehicles. By 1931 he had also decided to create a bus company to offer ease of transport to a greater number of people : Transports Citroën was established as an interurban bus and coach operator. Until then the motor coach in France catered for the holiday maker rather than being employed in regular routes. He also launched a taxicab company in Paris, but that did not last long. We have already seen the type 45 (part two, no. 6), based on a truck type chassis, produced from 1934 to 1953 and replaced by the type 55 (part three, no. 9). In 1953 the type 55 and its little brother, the light truck type 23 (see part five, no. 15), sported a new front end of a more modern type created by the Citroën Levallois body plant, while chassis and mechanical components were as before.

In 1955 the new type 46 was sold alongside the type 55, very similar externally to the 55, but now with a new petrol engine : a six in line of 5.2 litres and 90 CV. But their main defect was that the long bonnet and the conventional cab compromised the seating area. Many bus and coach bodies were built by Amiot, Currus, Faurax & Chaussende (Lyon), this scale model particular body is by Carde of Bordeaux.

The types 55, 46 and 23 were replaced in 1965 by the types 350 – 850, designed by Flaminio Bertoni, and nicknamed “Belphégor”, because the strange shape of their front bodywork resembled the “phantom” of the soap opera played by Juliette Greco.

The scale model is the faithful reproduction of a vehicle from a picture that can be find on a web site dedicated to the history of “Transports Citroën”, which is really interesting. It is a type 46 running on route no. 53, from Paris to Sens, via Fontainbleau, the first route from Paris (established in 1932), with a registration plate from Paris. The livery is the classic postwar one : light brown (almost cream) over dark brown with a red band. The model body is metal (but the front bonnet is plastic), while the chassis is plastic, with an added exhaust.

The rear overhang is really imposing, to wonder how many times it scratched the road. On the roof there is a nice luggage area with a very contorted ladder. Front grille and wheels, double at the rear, are well reproduced, while the wipers are only engraved. On both sides, and at the rear, there is the logo of Transports Citroën, alas not very visible (red on dark brown !). Interior is basic, but realistic. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice model, we wonder if the real one is still alive?

 

 

No. 26 (no. 19 in the French collection) Fordson Thames ET7 1952 – Fordson name is perhaps more known as a successful tractors manufacturer, but trucks were sided to the tractors from 1933.

There is no need to trace here the history of US Ford, suffice to say that Ford Motor Company (England) Limited was established in 1909, and soon started assembling the model T from imported chassis and mechanical parts with bodies sourced locally, then in 1914 Britain’s first moving assembly line for car production started at Trafford Park, Manchester. In 1917 a plant opened in Cork, Ireland, to manufacture tractors and some years later also cars : Henry Ford and Son Limited company (Fordson) was officially incorporated. The Model T started the commercial vehicles production, from 1933 to 1939 badged Fordson, changing to Fordson Thames until 1957 after which they became plain Thames until 1965, when they reverted to Ford. The truck operation was sold to the Iveco group in 1986. The petrol-engined Fordson Thames ET6 (side valve Ford V8 or 4-cylinder “Cost Cutter” engine from 1953) and Perkins diesel-engined ET7 (4.7 litre six-cylinder) were first introduced in 1947, ‘ET’ standing for English Truck, to replace the Fordson 7V. The conventional cab with long bonnet and split windshield was built by the body builder Briggs Motor Bodies. The chassis now had half-elliptical leaf springs and hydraulic brakes, a significant improvement to the predecessor. They were to be renamed in 1957 as Ford Thames 500E and 520E, soon to be replaced by the forward control Thames Trader FC. Spanish Ebro built the Fordson Thames in license from 1956 to 1963 as Ebro B-series.

Appreciated for their simplicity and sturdiness many ET6/7 were exported, mainly in the Commonwealth, as “cowl and chassis” only, to be equipped with a local bodywork, like our scale model, very likely with a body built by Micallef in Malta. These Maltese old buses, full of character and loved by every tourist, were taken off the road in 2011 when Arriva started operating the public transport service and replaced them with new vehicles to reduce harmful emissions . Many of them have been saved by Heritage Malta, now seeking a site to house the new Transport Museum.

The scale model is the faithful reproduction of a vehicle still alive in Malta, route no. 80, registered EBY537. The Perkins logo on the rear panel claims to have a diesel engine. Quite an heavy model, metal body (but front bonnet and wings are plastic) and plastic chassis well detailed, but the rear exhaust is only highlighted by silver paint. The body has no door on the left side (because of the Maltese climate ?), and the interior, though quite basic, can be fully appreciated. The yellow-red-white livery is typical of Maltese buses. Chromed front and rear bumpers are added. Nice detailing of the front grille and lights, and the double rear wheels. No apparent difference to the French edition. An invitation to go and try the real one.

 

 

No. 27 (no. 21 in the French collection) Neoplan NH 22 Skyliner 1983 – Gottlob Auwärter GmbH & Co KG was founded by Gottlob Auwärter in Stuttgart in 1935, to manufacture trailers for trucks and bodywork for bus and truck chassis. At the end of the Second World War German industries were banned from producing vehicles greater than 3 ton load capacity. It was therefore necessary to re-use what had been spared by the war: a rich market for Neoplan, at least until the new generation vehicles, like Isobloc or Setra, brought forward the integral structure solution. By 1953, the company moved to a partial monocoque design with a steel tube skeleton and welded side panels. The engine was moved to the rear, and in 1957, air suspensions improved the comfort for passengers. For their dissertation at Hamburg University the founder’s eldest son, Albrecht Auwärter, and the Swiss Bob Lee, developed a new coach, with clear-cut lines with straight edges and large windows : the “Hamburg” bus was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961.  Albrecht’s second son, Konrad, also developed a new kind of bus for his dissertation : a double-decker bus (hence its name, Do-Bus), with a low-frame front axle, low weight and able to carry up to 100 passengers. It was the origin of the NH 22 Skyliner. In 2001 Neoplan was acquired by MAN AG to form Neoman Bus GmbH, which was fully integrated into the bus division of the larger MAN Nutzfahrzeuge Group in 2008, and ceasing to exist in its own right.

The Skyliner is a double-decker multi-axle luxury touring coach, it was introduced in 1967 and undergone a continuous process of evolution up to today. The lower floor allows the installation of toilets, kitchens or sleeping cabins in the back, below the main passenger compartment, while the engine and the baggage compartment are isolated in the rear of the bus. The large front overhang forces the driver to anticipate the steering, but the handling is still very good. Current Skyliners are available in two lengths : the short C version (12.44 metres) and the long L version (13.79 metres) with a correspondingly longer wheelbase. The original Henschel engine has been replaced by a 12.5 litre MAN straight-six common rail turbodiesel with intercooler, and an output of 353 kilowatts, mounted upright in a longitudinal orientation at the rear of the coach, connected to a twelve-speed ZF automated manual transmission.

The quite large, but light, scale model has metal body and plastic chassis and here we find some problems. The engine is at the rear, but the exhaust is reproduced going from the front to the rear of the vehicle, as is the transmission. Someone took a wrong turn! Alas that isn’t the only problem : the underside of the upper floor has not been represented, and that gives a poor impression. Again, there are three central supports to the roof in the upper floor, clearly needed for structural sturdiness, but very unrealistic. A better engineering solution could be found for a 1:43 model. The white-blue-silver livery is well represented, with the logo well printed over corrugated metal sheets. Front bumper with grille and lights are separate added items, like the rear one. There are separately added wipers for both floors, and rear view mirrors.

The interior is nice, quite a luxury version, with small compartments with table and opposing seats. The driver’s cab area is well represented, like the simulated engine ventilation grilles.

Registration plate is from Bochum, in North Rhine-Westfalia. The year indicated for the bus (1983) is perhaps doubtful, the shape of the model seems closer to the original version when launched. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 8

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

This months issues brings us one more French bus, an Italian one, and a German one, but “made in Spain” : as usual an interesting mix from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French one “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.

No. 22 (no. 15 in the French collection) Berliet Crusair 3 1969 – Like Renault, Berliet is one of the oldest automobile manufacturer : founded in 1899 by Marius Berliet, it was in private ownership until 1967 when it became part of Citroën, then acquired by Renault in 1974 and merged with Saviem into the new Renault Trucks company (RVI) in 1978. Its name was phased out by 1980. Based in Vénissieux, near Lyon, Berliet contributed highly to the motorsport and economic development of France. After a first small vis-à-vis (1895) the first real Berliet was the 22 CV in 1902, and the success was at the door. Already in 1905 Berliet could sell to the American company ALCO (American Locomotive Corporation) the rights for the overseas production of models 22, 40 and 60 CV. That’s the origin of the locomotive in the Berliet logo. At the outbreak of the First World War its production was converted to military purposes. Its trucks were well thought of, and it assembled the famous Renault tanks.

After the war 4 and 6 cylinders models were produced, as wel as trucks and autocars. But the appearance of the Citroën Traction put rivals several years behind in technological terms. As money to innovate was lacking at Berliet an agreement with Peugeot allowed them to use the 402 body, a modern line to conceal their old fashioned technology. It was the last Berliet car, after World War Two only commercial vehicle production was resumed. During the fifties Berliet was highly successful, but in the sixties the competition with Magirus, Mercedes, Scania, Volvo and Fiat was very tough. It was necessary to innovate continuously. Once again resources were lacking and in 1967 it was acquired by Citroen. The Cruisair range, developed from 1966, offered innovative technical solutions and a new aesthetic.

The Cruisair 2 and 3 were 10 and 11 metres long, and were marketed in 1968 equipped with a 2-stroke V-6 GM Detroit Diesel engine, fragile if not correctly used, and, starting from 1970, with the V-8 Berliet, less powerful, but more reliable. Comfortable, reliable and profitable the Crusair was built on a straight frame with two U-rails, braced by central X-riveted cross-rails. Airlam suspensions, consisting of pneumatic cushions and leaf springs associated with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers, assured comfort and stability. But it was not free of defects, such as corrosion, poor driving position or poor technical solutions for belts and brakes. The Crusair was replaced by the PR14 in 1975, in effect an evolution of a 12 meters long Crusair 4 never produced, equipped with a turbo engine and sold, under the Renault brand, until 1989.

The scale model has a plastic body and a metal chassis with the rear exhaust highlighted by silver paint. The bright livery is yellow with a lower green stripe, a silver stripe below the windows and a black roof. The registration plate is from Toulouse in Haute Garonne, in the South of France. Nice modelling of the engine ventilation grilles and the front itself as well as the driver’s “cab”. The front and rear bumper separate fixings like the wipers. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. This is a nice model of a bus that boldly showed the image of the French coach in the last twenty years of the twentieth century.

 

No. 23 (no. 67 in the French collection) FIAT 309/1 SDM Menarini 1966 – Fiat is another of the oldest automobile manufacturers. Founded in 1899 its first truck was the 24 HP in 1903. Like many other companies Fiat commercial vehicles had a strong growth during the war years, starting in 1911 with the Libyan war (type 15 and then type 18). In 1925 Fiat bought SPA (Società Piemontese Automobili) and in 1929 created Fiat Veicoli Industriali, a consortium grouping Fiat V.I., SPA and Scat-Ceirano that in 1933 integrated OM (Officine Meccaniche ex Züst). In 1966 Fiat V.I. absorbed its French subsidiary UNIC (bought in 1949 by Fiat-Simca), in 1966 Lancia Industrial Vehicles, and in 1973 part of FNM (Fàbrica Nacional de Motores), the Brazilian subsidiary of Alfa Romeo. From 1975 all the activities were grouped with Magirus in a new company (IVECO), and from now on it started the slow disappearance of the specific products of each brand. In 1915, Gianni Agnelli, founder of Fiat, created the S.I.T.A. (Società Italiana Trasporti Automobilistici) to ensure the transport of people and goods, and clearly to develop its commercial vehicles production (S.I.T.A. was part of Fiat up to 1987).

We have already seen (see 5th part, no. 13) that Menarini was established in Bologna in 1919 building horse drawn carriages, car components and later buses and trucks bodies for Fiat chassis. After the Second World War there was a great growth, but in the 1980s an excess of prudence by the ownership made the company weaker in the face of competition, leading to its acquisition by Breda, later to be integrated in Finmeccanica in 2001, and to be sold in 2015 to the new company IAA (Industria Italiana Autobus), owner of Menarini and Padane brands.

The Fiat 309 was a bus produced by Fiat V.I. from 1958 to replace the 642RN, which had been derived from a truck. This vehicle was designed from the beginning as a bus. Its production ceased in 1970, when replaced by the 308. It was available in the 9-metre version, with line and Gran Turismo versions, designed by Cansa of Cameri but it was also available as a chassis destined for external body builders, especially Carrozzeria Orlandi, Dalla Via, Portese, Bianchi and above all Menarini. The first 309’s mechanics, placed in the middle of the chassis, derived from the truck 642, but in 1963 they derived from the 643 and the denomination became 309/1 (a flat 6 in line, delivering 153 hp  with a 5-speed gearbox). The 309 saw widespread operation in Italy but also sold well in export markets, both in the long-distance version and in the Gran Turismo version. The SDM in the name is typical of Menarini products, it stands for “Sintesi Del Meglio” (Summary of the Best), the name given to their new projects, aiming at optimising construction techniques.

 

 

The scale model is a faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the “Il Capolinea” fleet (The Terminal), a private Italian association (see www.associazioneilcapolinea.it). The registration plate, from Benevento, is the original one when it was part of the Autolinee Lisella. As usual there is a plastic body and a metal chassis, the rear exhaust highlighted by silver paint. Many items are small separate parts like the front and rear lights, wipers and the rear compartment doors. A nice front grille is provided complete with the Menarini and Fiat logos. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.

 

No. 24 (no. 31 in the French collection) Setra-Seida S14 1966 – The Setra brand was born in 1951, but its origins are from the Wagenfabrik Kässbohrer, founded in 1893 in Ulm, and whose products were buses, coaches, vehicle transporters, trailers and special vehicles like snow groomers. After the destruction of World War Two they had to start from scratch and it was decided to create a new company dedicated only to buses. It was named Setra, short for “selbsttragend” (self supporting), referring to the integral nature of the construction, when competitor vehicles still featured a separate chassis and body. Until 1995 the firm operated under the name Kässbohrer-Setra, but in that year economic difficulties forced its sale to Daimler Benz, and to operate as a division of EvoBus GmbH, one of its subsidiaries. The first Setra buses were named according to the number of the rows of seats, like S8, S10, S14. To locate the engine behind the rear axle was another innovation, which subsequently became mainstream. The modular system (same structure’s elements and same cockpit) allowed to change only the wheelbase, the engine power and the interior fittings. Usually the engine was a diesel six by Henschel, delivering 170 CV.

 

The model is a bus born of an agreement between Setra and Seida (Sociedad Española de Importación y Distribución de Automóviles) a Spanish car and truck dealer and coachbuilder that later evolved into makers of integral chassisless motorcoaches, and  in 1998 merged into EvoBus. Seida was incorporated in 1925, and began as the dealer for Spain of all the brands of Chrysler Corporation, starting to assemble Dodge trucks in 1935. In the 1940s, after the Spanish Civil War, Seida switched to coachbuilding, soon leading the Spanish market of coach bodies, having patented, as Metalbloc, an all-metal body structure. By then Seida became the preferred bodybuilder for Pegaso buses and trucks, Hispano-Suiza trolleybuses, double-deck Guy and Dodge coaches. In 1963 an agreement with Kässbohrer allowed to license-build Setra chassisless coaches. These were equipped with Pegaso engines and were marketed with simultaneous double badge as Setra Seida and Pegaso. The S14, a full-length 12-meter 55 seat vehicle, was the most in demand. Despite being rather expensive, these coaches were very successful in the Spanish market. In the 1970s MAN, Mercedes-Benz or Cummins engines were offered as alternative power units to the Pegaso ones, and the Setra Seida and Pegaso badging was replaced by just Setra.

The scale model is again a faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, owned by the “La Pamplonesa”, a Spanish family business dedicated to renting coaches and minibuses in Pamplona (Navarra) (see www.lapamplonesa.com). As usual there is a plastic body and a metal chassis, the body is quite bright, helped by the blue and light blue livery and plenty of windows. The windows on the roof would have meant that during summer it would be very hot inside. Perhaps because of its length the model seems to be a bit flimsy, too flexible. The registration plate is from Donostia-San Sebastián, a coastal city located in the Basque Autonomous Community.

The small “SP” plate doesn’t mean “Spain” but “Servicio Públicos”. it is a compulsory plate to indicates that the vehicle is dedicated to providing public services: taxis, buses, etc. There are two plates one at the front and the other in the rear of the vehicle, this last one should incorporate a light that complies with the same conditions as for the rear registration plate. The interior is quite basic and is in a strange purple-pink colour. There are many small added items such as front and rear bumpers, wipers and rear view mirrors. The Pegaso logo is modelled correctly on the front grille and on the hubcaps. There is no apparent differences to the French edition.


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Atlas Germany – Ambulance Collection Part 4

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Parts six to eight of this subscription collection have now been published. They continue to be diecast in China for Atlas Editions in Germany and all are accompanied by a booklet similar to those issued as part works.

7 495 106 Volvo 264

With the 264, Volvo produced an executive class car. Released in 1974 the impressive car was built as a saloon 264 and an estate 265 until 1982. The powerful engine in the spacious estate was a good base for developing an ambulance car. The car is a faithful replica of the original which was used in the Netherlands. The model is well detailed with many small separate parts inserted.

The accompanying leaflet contains a remarkable fault. It states that the big Volvo was fitted with front wheel drive when of course this was a front-engined, rear wheel drive car.


 

7 495 107 Volvo 145 Express

The Volvo 144 replaced the Amazon in 1966 and a year later the 145 estate appeared.  This estate car was used in Sweden converted into an ambulance car. The reliable and economical vehicle was widely used in Northern Sweden.

The miniature is an accurate shape with good detailing and small separate parts added to enhance it.  This time the booklet correctly states that it is rear wheel drive.


7 495 108 Citroen Type HY

The original for this replica entered service in 1965 for the German Red Cross in the Heidelberg area . The French Red Cross helped to fund the vehicle which was converted by the company Christian Miesen into a rescue vehicle.

The HY was so high that the emergency doctor could work standing upright beside the accident victim. A change from the cramped working space of an Ambulance car.  Today this early emergency doctor vehicle is exhibited in the Red Cross Country Museum of Baden-Württemberg in Geislingen (www.rotkreuz-landesmuseum.de).

The model is well finished to a high level of detail. Its corrugated sides are well replicated. Small parts such at the emergency beacons, headlights and red cross signs are separate parts.


As is general in this series all three miniatures have minimal baseplate detail.


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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 7

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Two more French buses and an interesting one from Hungary, all from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French one “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh by Ixo.

No. 19 (no. 32 in the French collection) Renault AGP Saharien 1937 – Renault is one of the oldest automobile manufacturer : established in 1899, already in 1903 began to manufacture its own engines and introduced in 1906 its first commercial truck. During the Great War they produced munitions, military aircraft engines and the revolutionary FT tank. A range of light/medium/heavy trucks named AGx was produced between 1937 and 1941, it included both conventional (AGC, AGT) and forward control (AGK, AGP, AGR) trucks. The AGP was a front engined, rear-wheel drive truck, with a 4-speed manual gearbox, assembled in Boulogne-Billancourt. The engine could be a 4-litre inline-four petrol unit or a 4.7-litre inline-four diesel (AGPD in this case), both with a 65 hp power output. In 1937, the Société Algérienne des Transports Tropicaux (SATT) commissioned a local coachbuilder to build a new AGP-based coach for its trans-Sahara passenger service to replace the heavier Renaults it was using before.

The van-like streamlined steel bodywork was insulated inside with cork, with a total length a little more of 7 metres. Usually it included seven seats for passengers in the front compartment, plus four more in the central one. At the rear there was space for goods and mail bags. More baggage could be stored in a compartment on the roof, covered by a simple tarpaulin, in this case they worked as a further insulator from the Sahara sun. Its could carry 400 litres of fuel, but on the desert trails it could need around 40 litres every 100 km. Each coach received its own number and name.

The scale model reproduces the SATT “Ligne du Hoggar” coach no. 64 “Guêpe” (Wasp) in its silver livery. The body is plastic, and the chassis is of diecast metal. Underneath, engine, rear axle and springs are all modelled in a basic manner, whilst the exhaust is an extra component like the front grille.

The two ladders needed to reach the luggage area on the roof are nicely modelled, as is the brown tarpaulin to cover the luggage area. There are no wipers, it never rains in the Sahara. On the sides of the vehicle the names of the main stops and the “Pullman” logo are printed. A correct registration plate is printed with the two letters code “AL” as Algeria was part of France until 1952.

There are no apparent differences to the French edition. This is quite a small vehicle, but is an interesting addition to the collection.


 

No. 20 (no. 12 in the French collection) SOMUA OP5-3 RATP 1955 – The origins of the French manufacturer Somua (Société d’Outillage Mécanique et d’Usinage d’Artillerie) date back to 1861, when Ethienne Bouhey started producing machine tools, very well regarded in France and abroad. Based in Saint-Ouen, a suburb of Paris, the company later was renamed Somua and during the Great War it became a subsidiary of Schneider-Creusot, already one of the companies providing buses to the Parisian STCRP. But between The Great War and the Second World War Renault became the exclusive supplier of Parisian buses, and Somua went back to producing trucks and military vehicles, like the S35 and S40 tanks. In 1946 the company presented the JL12, a truck equipped with a flex-fuel four cylinder engine under license from the Swedish Hesselman company. But the “Commission des plans de modernisation de l’automobile” (the famous “Plan Pons”) decided to merge Somua with Willème and Panhard to form a new company, the Union Française de l’Automobile (UFA).

Panhard directed UFA and only its engines could be used in trucks or buses, like the OP5. In the 50s, after leaving UFA, Somua suffered from a reduction in military orders and was forced to join Latil and the trucks division of Renault to counter Berliet : in 1955 LRS Saviem was born : Latil-Renault-Somua Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d’Equipments Mécaniques. Somua went on supplying the OP5 to the RATP for some more years, while Saviem was the brand for the new models.

The OP5 was the result of the project for a new generation of post-war Parisian buses, as requested by the CMP (Compagnie du Métropolitain, the future RATP): specifications required a closed body bus, with more comfort and a fixed place for the conductor. Somua produced the chassis and the engine/transmission unit, the bodies were assembled as a wooden frame covered with panels in Duralinox directly by the RATP for the first 100 “1950 Paris type” buses, while the 200 more “Banlieue type” buses were build as entirely metal structure in welded tubes by MGT (Million Guiet Tubauto). The diesel engine was in front of the chassis, with the batteries and fuel tank in the middle. But the presence of only two doors was an obstacle to the passengers movement and in 1955 the RATP ordered the new OP5-3, slightly longer than the OP5 to allow a third central door and with an all metal body by MGT. A very reliable bus, the OP5 modernised the Parisian fleet, slowly replacing the old open platform buses, and becoming a real Paris trademark.

The scale model of the OP5-3 is quite large, with a plastic body, a metal chassis and the classic green and cream livery. Underside details are sufficient, the exhaust is silver painted and there is a rear tow hitch. The destination plate reads “#56 – Pte de Clignancourt” and on both sides there are “Larousse” ads, while in the rear there is a “Chantelle” one, all very agreeable. Inside the seats are quite basic and there is the conductor’s place. The four-leaf doors are modelled well. Indeed it is a beautiful model. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


 

No. 21 (no. 17 in the French collection) Ikarus type 66 1955 – In 1895, when Budapest was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Imre Uhri established a company focused on horse carriages. Later on it started producing bodies for buses, but the 1929 crisis forced its closure. In 1935 the company resumed production, building bodies for the MAVAG vehicles. After the Second World War it was nationalised and joined to Ikarus, an aircraft maker, and charged to build coaches and buses. These were widely used throughout the Comecon bloc, even in the Soviet Union. They were also exported to countries in Asia and Africa aligned with the Soviet Union.

Sales increased year-by-year and in 1971 over 100,000 buses were manufactured, and Ikarus was the largest bus builder in the Eastern Bloc. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the loss of Comecon caused a collapse of orders. The company was privatised, and then sold to Irisbus which ceased vehicle production in 2003. An Hungarian entrepreneur re-started bus and trolleybus production in 2006, planning a second bus factory in the USA, while a third one is planned in Turkey.

The Ikarus 66 (and the 55, its Gran Turismo version) was a successful monocoque bus with a rear engine. This reduced noise levels, meant that no long drive shaft was needed, and maximized the interior space. The straight six diesel engine was a 145 HP Hungarian Csepel, at the start with a pneumatic clutch, but later on with a dry monodisc one. The presence of power steering was a plus and being a robust and powerful bus it was used in many countries. Over 16,700 Ikarus 55/66 were assembled, with over 8,500 going to  the DDR (German Democratic Republic), one of the most important trading partners for Ikarus.

The scale model has a plastic body and metal chassis, with a good level of detail. Many parts are added, like three rear view mirrors, the wipers, front and rear lights, front bumper, luggage rack and exhaust system. A correct registration plate for Dresden, the first letter “R” indicating the Dresden district, whilst on the sides there is the City’s Coat of Arms. Well reproduced interior features a well modelled drivers area complete with a nice dashboard. The cream livery is a bit dull but authentic. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice big model, very well executed.


 

The Fiat 418 AC/M Menarini 1975 (Trieste) which featured in  Part 5 of the Italian series has now been seen in the French collection as no. 68.


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Polish Ice Cream Truck, a 1:43 Conversion

By John-William Greenbaum

Here’s a decidedly post-communist truck converted from a communist-era design: the ZUK A-11B Pickup Truck (a 1/43 Polish partworks truck made by Ixo), as converted into an ice cream truck for Lodmor, a manufacturer of ice cream, sorbet, and yogurt in Gdansk!  This model truck was for sale in Poland and converted by some unknown person.

The Plasticville figure was actually part of the conversion in the rear suite, but came loose in transit. I’ve since reattached her using that guaranteed-to-work method: double-sided tape!

The ZUK A-11B was a pretty popular pickup truck in Poland more or less throughout the seventies and eighties, actually surviving communism to be manufactured in the nineties, albeit not in huge numbers. However, so many were in service and parts were so inexpensive that you could indeed convert these trucks into commercial vehicles like rent-a-trucks or indeed ice cream trucks that generally speaking weren’t crucial to Polish infrastructure.

Given the amount of French and German ice cream trucks made in a similar manner that are still on the streets manufactured in the seventies and eighties, I’d honestly not be surprised if one could walk around Gdansk and find one of these driving around.  In fact I found photos of one in-service and one not.

Remarks on the Real Truck

The last of the FSC ZUK pickup trucks, the ZUK A-11B, was probably the most successful of any of them. Based externally on the 1966-vintage ZUK A-14 Export Fire Truck that essentially inspired all post-1966 ZUK vehicles, it could best be seen as the successor to the ZUK A-03 pickup, which was the very first of FSC ZUK’s pickup trucks. As with the boxy A-03 it was meant to replace, the original ZUK A-11, which was introduced in 1968, made extensive use of corrugated steel in the construction of the cab. The most noticeable improvement was a hood that flipped up easily.

Although somewhat problematic due to an incredibly high center of gravity that saw the pickups often literally tip over onto their sides, it was all in all an improvement over the ZUK A-03 in the reliability department. Although handling could best be described as awful, the ZUK A-11 did at the very least receive a responsive steering wheel so as to try and prevent as many trucks from tipping onto their sides as possible. It did, however, have two glaring problems. First among these was that the engine design was still the old GAZ-M20 Pobeda engine. Worse, however, was that the truck used a wooden cargo bed that often dry-rotted and had all kinds of problems with cracking and damage.

In 1973, the vehicle received a new, more powerful engine, being renamed the ZUK A-11M. However, the problem with the wooden cargo bed proved rather serious. In 1975, the ZUK A-11M was withdrawn from production in favor of the ZUK A-11B that you see featured here.  In 1998, the ZUK A-11B had the honor of being the very last truck to roll off FSC ZUK’s assembly line before then factory  was closed for good. Many stayed in service for years afterward in all kinds of jobs.

Fir this example, the cargo bed has been removed and replaced by a nineties-era ice cream truck suite! Lodmor is still a manufacturer of ice cream in Gdansk, and that’s the corporate sponsor that this particular A-11B ice cream truck has. Note the folding side window and refrigeration unit as well, which are probably licensed copies of features found on German or French ice cream trucks. A truck like this probably would have remained in service well into the twenty-first century, as there was absolutely no need to replace it with something technologically superior. Heck, I’m willing to bet there are is more than one of these still driving around, given the presence of Renaults from the sixties in France, old Mercedes-Benz O-series trucks in Germany, old Leylands driving around Britain, and seventies Dodge trucks driving around here in the US.

Given how successful  a late 1960’s design was doing in the 1990’s, one is forced to wonder just how well it could have done had FSC ZUK’s  communist bureaucrats not nearly destroyed the design during the 1980’s (updated the flaws with the wooden cargo bed, etc).

ZUK A-11B Lodmor Ice Cream Truck Conversion 
Poland, 1:43 Model by Ixo, modified by unknown
Figure by Plasticville, painted and modified
Years Built: 1975-1998
Engine: 70 HP 4-cylinder four-stroke
Fuel Type: Gasoline
Top Speed: 63 mph

More details about the real 1:1 scale ZUK  A-11B can be seen on the author’s Facebook page.


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The Ford in Miniature – Ford of Brazil

By David Turner

 

First of all, lets make it clear that my knowledge of this subject is at best sketchy, in fact the project has been started in the hope that feedback will correct/fill some of the many mistakes/gaps revealed.

Fords were imported into Brazil from 1904, then from 1919 Model T’s were made from imported kits. Manufacture proper came in 1957 with the F600 and subsequently F100 and F350 trucks. Ford took over Willys in 1967 continuing their Aero sedan that dated back to 1954 followed in 1967 by the Galaxie – employing the 1966 US body until 1983. The 1970 US Maverick was made in Brazil from 1974-79 while the Escort was made from 1983. Ford merged with VW in Brazil from 1987-94 which got them both through a difficult period in that part of the world and today the Ford line in Brazil contains various familiar worldwide models made either locally or in various overseas plants.

Simca in Brazil began in 1958 by assembling imported kits of parts, including those for the one time French Ford Vedette. In Brazil the Chambord name was continued, while from 1961 the upmarket Presidence with Continental spare wheel and ‘sporty’ Rallye were added. In 1962 the Jangada estate derived from the French Marly brake arrived and the old Ford side-valve V8 continued in these cars until 1966. Chrysler had taken a share of Simca in France in 1958 and total control in 1966 – a Ford component was then obviously not politically correct.

Searching for representative miniatures of vehicles made in Brazil that carried a Ford badge has proved interesting but frustrating. For example the Aero sedan that Ford inherited from Willys has been produced as a 1954 promo, obviously for Willys, and then finding models of the 1950s trucks has been almost a failure. The 1957 F600 proved impossible, the only ’57 truck models recorded were the F100 pick ups from Buby appropriately in Argentina. The closest found in the cabinets was extremely vague in the shape of a small Hallmark Cards Christmas Tree ornament from Tonka that very loosely resembled a ’57 Ford T Series (tandem axle). with a cement drum. A ’58 was no easier, a Japanese made tinplate toy tipper distributed by Arkin in Detroit could be regarded as a ’58 while we got reasonably close with a 1959 F250 from Road Signature.

Next, let’s re-run some of the various mentions of the subject that have already taken place in MAR, notably and more recently by John-William Greenbaum who obviously has a good all round grasp of the South American motoring scene.

Many Ford products that have emanated from South America will have been very similar or identical to a US subject albeit often a few years later, and they will have been, or will be, included in that particular small Ford review in addition to being included in the following.

Back in MAR 226 Graeme Ogg pictured a Brazillian bodied Galaxie Landau in 1:43 by Automodelli and this differed from the US version in a few subtle details while a much bigger subject, albeit in 1:50 scale was the D800 Fittipaldi F1 Team Transporter also from Automodelli in MAR 253. This looks very like the D Series that we are familiar with in the UK and came in three versions.

Coming to the first of John-William Greenbaum’s Brazilian entries, in MAR 277 we have the ’67 Galaxie 500 with its distinctively different grille from Ixo for Altaya/DeAgostini and a Simca Chambord from the same source and that looks just like the French home market issue. This partwork is said to have run to over 100 issues, very few of which were Fords.

A significant family of blue oval badged cars in Brazil began in 1967 when Ford Brazil bought Willys-Overland who were producing Renault designed cars for that market. A new car, the Corcel was based on the yet to appear new version of the Renault 12. Initially a 4 door saloon was made and then was joined in 1969 by 2 door coupe with subtle ‘pony-car’ looks, (Corcel is Portuguese for Stallion) Three door station wagons followed a year later called Berlina. For 1975 a facelifted version featured one-piece rather than separate circular tail lights and other subtle changes.

The Corcel 11 appeared for 1978 and a corresponding second generation Berlina was included while a new addition was the Del Rey in 1981 and that featured a slightly more formal upright character. with more than a hint of MK11 Granada in its lines. Just a year later the Pampa arrived and this, still based on the Corcel 11 was a Coupe Utility or ‘Ute even, but basically a pick up.

In MAR 277 the Ixo Corcel illustrated is the pre-facelift 1970 version while other Fords in the series that are shown include a 1980 Belina 11; 1982 Del Rey Ouro (Gold); 1979 F100 pick up looking like the 1970 US item and 1975 Maverick GT Coupe that also has its origins back in the 1970 US version. The review continued in MAR 280 in which the Ixo 1980 Corcel 11 was illustrated along with the 1990 Escort XR3, the latter exhibiting a few of the US versions features.

Moving on to MAR 282 in which the 1989 Pampa was illustrated as was the 1980 F75 pick up. The latter was simply a re-named Willys Pick Up that in 1972 took over from the discontinued Ford Rural, and that in turn had been a continuation of the Willys Rural when Ford took over from Willys in 1967. Yet another curiosity in that issue was the 1962 Simca Jangada which was an amalgam of the two generations of the French Simca Marly station wagon, itself descended from the Ford Vedette when Simca bought Ford France! Still in MAR 282, we can see the 1980 Ford Jeep CJ-5 that the partwork listed as a 1963 Willys Jeep CJ-5. Most of the last lot can also seen in the November 2015 archive.

Finding any of the above partwork subjects in the UK is quite unlikely, however as is the way lately, models sometimes re-appear under different labels. For example Ixo themselves have issued some of these under their own label while some others have been found under the Triple Nine and White Box names and at the same time some have Premium X, an Ixo brand, on their base.

While the Ixo based subjects are invariably 1:43, a few models in various scales of the same subjects appear to be more intended as toys to be played with as they feature opening doors (in the old lower half only style) and pull-back motors. Some came with Portuguese language booklets entitled “Carros Nacionais 2” with pictures of the twelve models in that series. The only Fords being the Del Rey and Belina 11.

Recently included in the MAR online Ford 1941/2 feature, the Minimac was produced in Brazil and depicts the civilian version of the CJ5 Jeep that was made locally by Ford from 1967 to 1983.

Model listing – Fords from Brazil
Automodelli Brazil 1976 Galaxie LTD Landau 1:43 handbuilt
Automodelli Brazil D800 Copersucar F1 Transporter 1:50 handbuilt
Ixo China 25 1967 Galaxie 500 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 10 1959 Simca Chambord 113mm 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 21 1969 Corcel 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 31 1980 Belina 11 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 16 1982 Del Rey Ouro 104mm 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 11 1979 F100 Pick up 114mm 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 1975 Maverick GT 106mm 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 49 1980 Corcel 11 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 53 1990 Escort XR 3 94mm 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 63 1989 Pampa 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 66 1980 F75 pick up 114mm 1:43 plastic
Ixo China 67 1962 Simca Jangada 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 68 1980 Jeep CJ-5 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 82 1971 Corcel GT 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 88 1962 Simca Rallye 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 94 1996 Fiesta 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 101 1977 Maverick Super Luxe 1:43 diecast
Ixo China 104 2000 F250 1:43 diecast
Carros Nacionals 1975 Corcel 114mm 1:39 diecast
Carros Nacionals 1980 Belina 11 114mm 1:39 diecast
Carros Nacionals 1982 Del Rey 116mm 1:39 diecast
Carros Nacionals 1979 F100 Pick up 108mm 1:45 diecast
Carros Nacionals 1975 Maverick GT 114mm 1:40 diecast
Minimac Brazil 1967 Jeep CJ5 76mm 1:43 metal
Tonka 1957 T600 Cement truck 80mm 1:83 diecast
Arkin Japan 1958 F series dump 199mm 1:25 tinplate
Road Signature China 1959 F250 4 x 4 pick up 289mm 1:18 diecast
Illustrations: Fords from Brazil

Arkin Distributing Co. 1:25 tinplate from Japan: 1958 F series dump. Lever at the side operates the tipping body, Flywheel motor on front axle.

Road Signature 1:18 diecast from China: 92318, 1959 F250 4×4 pick up, opening doors, hood and tailgate plus plenty of detail inside and underneath.

Tonka 1:83 diecast Christmas tree ornament: 1957 T Series cement truck, issued by Hallmark 2002, operating discharge chute at rear.

Triple Nine 1:43 plastic from China: 43050, 1980 F75 pick up, this was the Willys Pick up until 1972. Carries the Premium X logo on the base but came in a Triple Nine box.

Carros Nacionals 1:39 diecast: 1980 Belina 11, opening doors, pull-back motor on rear axle.

Premium X 1:43 diecast from China: 238, 1982 Del Rey Ouro, one example that was available generally under the Premium X name as well as in Brazil.

Carros Nacionals 1:39 diecast: 1975 Corcel, face lift version with one-piece tail lights, opening doors, pull-back motor on rear axle.

White Box 1:43 diecast from China: 096, 1990 Escort Mk1V XR3 another example available around the world but in this case on the White box label.

Carros Nacionals 1:45 diecast: 1979 F100 pick up, this is the 1970 US item, opening doors, pull-back motor on rear axle.

Premium X 1:43 diecast from China: 393 1980 F100 pick up, this is the 1970 US issue, has the same licence plate as the Brazilian partwork issue.

Carros Nacionals 1:39 diecast: 1982 Del Rey, opening doors, pull-back motor on rear axle.

Ixo 1:43 diecast: 1959 Simca Chambord, this one came in an Ixo box.

Carros Nacionals 1:40 diecast: 1975 Maverick GT, this is the 1970 US car, opening doors, pull-back motor on rear axle.

Premium X 1:43 diecast from China: 148, 1975 Maverick GT, this is the 1970 US issue.

Minimac 1:43 metal from Brazil: A-1, 1967 Jeep CJ5 made by Ford Brazil.


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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 6

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs taken by, and copyright of, the Author.

This time we have one more British bus, a French one and an Italian one, all from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French collection “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.

 

No. 16 (no. 16 also in the French collection) AEC Regal III by Harrington 1950 – The Associated Equipment Company, or AEC, built buses and lorries from 1912 until 1979, when it was taken over by Leyland and its name disappeared. Indeed its origins are connected to the LGOC (London General Omnibus Company) which started producing its own motor omnibuses in 1909, the X-type and then the famous B-type : in 1912 LGOC was taken over by the Underground Group of companies, and as part of the reorganisation a separate concern was set up for the bus manufacturing, named Associated Equipment Company. During the First World War its assembly lines methods helped in producing large numbers of lorries. Easily associated with London’s Routemaster, AEC gained a high reputation for quality and reliability, supplying commercial vehicles around the world. From 1929, all the names of lorries began with “M” (Majestic, Mammoth, and so on), and all those of buses began with “R” (Regent, Regal, and so on). The AEC Regent III was a double-decker bus chassis manufactured by AEC, usually fitted with AEC’s 9.6-litre diesel engine at the front, ‘Wilson‘ preselective gearbox and air-pressure operated brakes, and available with bodies from Park Royal, Metro Cammell Weymann and so on. From the Regent, indeed only a development of a 30s chassis, AEC developed a single-decker one, named Regal, for use in the suburbs and in the country. Thomas Harrington & Sons Ltd was a coachbuilder from 1897 until 1966, beginning with the construction of horse-drawn carriages, then specialising in commercial vehicles, buses and coaches, and after the First World War concentrating on luxury coaches plus some single-decker bus bodies and other general coachbuilding activity.

After the Second World War demand for new buses and coaches was somewhat pent-up and Harrington was able to build a satisfactory export trade, particularly to South America and British colonies. Production ceased in 1966 and spares, stock and goodwill were purchased by Plaxton. Following its introduction in 1935, the ‘dorsal fin’ (no aerodynamic function, in reality it housed the air ventilation system) was available on many different coaches and became a real trademark of Harrington.

The scale model, metal diecast body and plastic chassis, is the faithful reproduction of one of only two known survivors : run by the Bevan Brothers of Soudley Valley (Gloucestershire), it sports an elegant red and bordeaux livery. Registered KDD38, it is a Regal III type 9621A and it has a Harrington FC33F body, complete with the famous dorsal fin.

Very nice wheels with the AEC logo, and neat shades over the side windows too. The driver’s area is separated from the passenger seats, all being well reproduced.

Nice front grille with the AEC logo. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


 

No. 17 (no. 2 in the French collection) Isobloc 648 DP 1955Joseph Besset, a coachbuilder in Annonay (Ardèche), was one of the many specialised in buses and coaches, but was unsatisfied by the truck chassis then available : he acquired in 1937 a license from the American Gar Wood based on the principle of a welded tubes structure, which was rigid enough to avoid the use of a separate chassis, and founded Isobloc in Lyon to become a full manufacturer . To avoid the conflict of interest which would arise if his coaches competed with coaches from chassis makers using his bodybuilding facilities bodywork was no longer built for others.

The prototype was a success and in the post-war period it was so popular it reached almost 20% of the registrations in its class. The rear overhung engine, a petrol from Ford, was thirsty, and it was quickly replaced by a Panhard diesel. But Besset no longer had the means to develop his business and Isobloc was taken over by Saca and then by Saviem.

From 1959 there were no more Isobloc buses. The 648 DP was the final evolution of the Isobloc coach, powered by a Panhard 6.8-litre diesel engine, and fitted with a five speed gearbox, and air brakes. It was liked by the drivers as it was a real Gran Turismo coach, with plexiglass roof windows and lots of chrome.

The scale model has a metal body and a plastic chassis with basic details. It is finished in a cream and brown livery. It has no destination plate, but the registration is from the La Manche (English Channel) department. The seats and the driver area are well modelled. At the rear the luggage ladder is modelled, as is the luggage area on the roof, where trunks and suitcases have been included. Lights and bumpers are separate items as is the exhaust system. The large area of windows have been well modelled capturing the Isobloc look well. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


 

 

No. 18 (no. 62 in the French collection) Fiat 626 RNL 1948 – The Fiat 626 was a medium truck built to the specifications of the Italian army and air force for military operations prior to the Second World War. It was the first Fiat truck with the advanced cabin and it replaced the models 621 and 633. The 626 N (N for nafta, Italian for diesel fuel) was the initial civilian version, followed by the NL (Nafta Lungo, or diesel long) with a longer wheelbase and the NLM (Nafta Lungo Militare) for the army. Production finished in 1948, after 10,000 Fiat 626 had been built.

In addition to the standard ones, Fiat put into production one more chassis, the 626 RNL (Ribassato Nafta Lungo, lowered long diesel) for the bus version, which was very common even in the postwar period. The engine was a 5.7-litre diesel six, a bit under-powered with only 70 hp, but it had the advantage of being easy to maintain. The bus version was adopted by the Italian air force, and often it is called “Aeronautica Italiana” type. The structure is typically pre-war, with a wooden roof covered by a waterproof canvas. It was homologated for 27 seats, plus 32 if drawing a special trailer.

The scale model is the faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the Politi collection, very likely one of the largest in Italy (see www.collezionepoliti.it), more than 600 buses, lorries and cars, many of which may be hired.  The registration plate, from Udine, is the original one, but the 626 was first painted in the classic medium blue-dark blue livery, but is now painted red and dark red.

As usual the model has a plastic body and metal chassis. The chassis is good and is fitted with nicely rendered classic “Trilex” wheels. Correctly a different type on front and rear.  The interior is rather basic but that reflects the fact that the original vehicle was very basic. Many separate items are fitted like the front and rear lights, both bumpers and the rear spare wheel door. A ladder is provided to the rear to reach the luggage area on the roof, but no baggage is fitted.

A neat front grille complete with the period Fiat logo finishes the model well. Again there are no apparent differences to the French edition.


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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part Five

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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Yugo 45A Three-Door Hatchback in 1/43

By John-William Greenbaum

As the progenitor of arguably the most pathetic series of automobiles ever to be imported into the United States, I’d say a Yugo 45 deserves to be featured here. However, this one, the Yugo 45A, was more of an offshoot of the vehicle Americans were used to seeing (the Yugo 45). Built by Zastava in Kragujevac (which is now part of Serbia) as a possible replacement for the aging Zastava 750, the original Yugo 45 was itself supplemented by the short-lived Yugo 45A in 1987.

Still, it wasn’t much of an upgrade; aside from weighing about 100 pounds more due to a higher level of interior trim and having steel door handles, there was virtually no difference. The first Yugo 45’s of any kind were built in 1978, and they were exported not to the US, where they gained infamy, but rather to East Bloc countries such as Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and, most famously, Poland. It was here that they were first called “Yugo,” with Czechoslovakia and Poland both buying the cars in tremendous quantities.

The Czechoslovakians lacked a subcompact car whilst the Poles relied on the tiny, uncomfortable Polski Fiat 126P “Maluch.” However, while it may have looked more modern and gotten better gas mileage, the Yugo was a death trap if it ever got into an accident involving a larger vehicle. The chronically problematic front axle also made steering the car difficult, prompting one critic to call it “the perfect car for driving in a straight line”. Also, it had severe aerodynamic issues; although designed to employ many Fiat 127 parts, it didn’t borrow directly from the far-superior Fiat 127.  A Yugo was once blown off the Mackinac Bridge in the United States by a gust of wind, for example.

In the US, the Yugo 45 didn’t sell well or even last long in the market. When most Americans think of a Yugo, they’re thinking of the Yugo 55, which had a slightly higher trim level. Regardless, the Yugo 45 had most of the characteristics of its successor. It was powered by an engine that delivered about 45 horsepower with a top speed of around 70 mph (ditto the Yugo 45A). Interestingly, the Yugo could maintain its fuel efficiency at top speed, getting about 40 miles per gallon of gas. When it was doing the speed limit, it could get around 45-50 mpg.

However, it was plagued by other problems. For example, in a high-speed turn, the wheels would infamously scrape against the wheel wells. Quality control problems also plagued the car in both the west and the East Bloc markets. As such, the car didn’t sell well in many East Bloc markets. Why, for example, should a Polish citizen buy the Yugo when he already had access to the Polski Fiat 126P? Even though this car too was pretty lousy, it was at least Polish-made, less expensive, and parts were more readily available. The Yugo’s needing near-constant maintenance was another problem.

Of the 794,428 Yugos of all types produced, a whopping 141,115 of these were sold in the United States; nearly 18% of total sales. Many more were sold in Yugoslavia (and the former Yugoslavia) itself, as well, and it was models like the Yugo 45A that were sold domestically. Even though the Yugo 45 was still being produced, the Yugo 45A did at least offer a modernized interior as well as better door handles.

Ultimately, outside of Yugoslavia, the Yugo was essentially a failure in the East Bloc. With less expensive cars of equal or even better quality on the market with a larger supply of parts available, the Yugo didn’t really have a market niche other than being just another communist-manufactured product.  The Yugo’s slightly larger 4-door cousin , the Zastava 101 or 1100, did sell well in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and its five-door hatchback “big brother”, the Yugo Florida, also sold well.

In Yugoslavia itself, the Yugo 45 was made right up until the bitter end. The same, however, could not be said of the Yugo 45A. It was discontinued due to the Balkan Wars, with the steel door handles and higher level of interior trim not being possible to maintain while Zastava was also churning out rifles and ammunition.

Model by Ixo for Croatian DeAgostini “Legendarni Automobili”
Figure by Lionel, painted by the author's Father
Years Built: 1987-1994 (Produced in Serbia after the breakup of Yugoslavia)
Engine: 45 HP 4-cylinder four-stroke
Fuel Type: Gasoline
Top Speed: 70 mph

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