By Fabrizio Panico
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
Parts 52 to 54
This time we’ll look at one of the most popular British buses, a quite rare one from France and another “ethnic” one, from Colombia. All of them are from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of eighty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French one “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.
No. 52 (no. 41 in the French collection) Bedford OB 1947 – We have already seen the Bedford history and its TJ Rocket (see part 11, no. 33). And how, established as a subsidiary of Vauxhall in 1930 to manufacture commercial vehicles, it soon became a leading international brand, with substantial export sales throughout the world. Its success was due in large part to the smooth running in-line six cylinder engine with overhead-valves, of Chevrolet origin (the famous stove-bolt six). The semi-forward control “O” type lorry chassis was introduced in August 1939, with a coach-chassis version named “OB“. Duple Coachbuilders modified their Hendonian body to fit the chassis, which was longer than the previous WTB model. Only 73 OB buses were built before production stopped due to the outbreak of the Second World War, After the war it reappeared largely unchanged and was produced till 1951, with a total of almost 13,000 produced.
Duple developed the new “Vista” as the standard coachwork for the postwar OB with elegant curved roof and waistlines. Seating capacity was normally 29 with overhead luggage racks, whilst the rear luggage boot was also used to store the spare wheel. The OB is one of the most popular preserved coaches: more than 180 are still in existence, with nearly 70 in roadworthy condition. They regularly appear in period television programs and movies. Duple Coachbuilders was active from 1919 until 1989 : its name was intended to convey the principle of a single vehicle being suitable for a dual role. Ex-military Ford model Ts were converted to a small touring car body that could be transformed into a van by removing the decking at the rear and fitting a van top. This dual-purpose body was then built also on Morris Cowley and Oxford chassis, production ceasing around the end of the 1920s.
Coachwork had been built since the inception of the company, but in 1928 it was decided to make an effort to increase output of this body type. By the middle of the 1930s bus bodies were produced in quite large numbers with a busy export business. After the war there was a move towards metal-framed bodies, but the 1950s brought a difficult time for the coachbuilding industry as there was a rapid decline in orders and competition became intense. The 1980 deregulation of coach services for journeys of over 30 miles caused the market for light coach chassis to collapse. Duple’s output fell from 1,000 bodies in 1976, to 340 in 1983. In July 1989, the decision was made to close down the Duple operation, some parts of it sold to domestic rival Plaxton.
The scale model is based on one of the preserved buses, with the usual combination of a metal body and a plastic baseplate with minimal detail. It is in a bright livery in cream and green. The destination plate reads Dartmouth, and the operator is Southern National.
The registration was issued by Devon County Council. The model is quite heavy. It is true to the original shape and the livery and registration plate seem to be authentic, but why is the side indicator near the door gold instead of orange? Many small separate parts are fitted, lights, mirrors, and wipers for example. A very nicely modelled front grille is fitted with the Bedford logo and script. The Duple logo is printed on the bonnet sides. A basic interior is fitted but the drivers area is well modelled. The tyres are nicely moulded but the wheels are ugly. The identical coach has been reproduced in 1:24th scale by Sun Star (but in that case it is indicated as from 1949). There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice reproduction of a once familiar sight on British roads.
No. 53 (no. 42 in the French collection) Chausson ANG 1956 – We have already met Chausson, its history and its succesful APH bus from 1950 (see part 5, no. 14) and how, beside making components for the automotive industry, they started producing car and unitary bus bodies. During the post war boom Chausson supplied thousands of buses to many French cities, but in 1959 Saviem acquired all their buses activities and Chausson left that market. In 1954 Chausson developed the AN type, a bus family based on the concept of the monocoque body, an assembly of tubes and ribbed and bent steel plates, welded together, assuring an high rigidity. According to the builder, it was the one that would be able to impose itself in all continents, even intended to be delivered in spare parts to be assembled as a “Meccano”, with easy completion with left or right hand drive, and with identical rear and front faces, pneumatic doors and large side luggage compartments. But the initial version, the ANH, suffered from many early defects: a poor visibility towards the front, an engine with too little power, and poor cooling.
Chausson reacted very quickly, and introduced a new version from 1957: the ANG. The small split windscreen was replaced by a single panoramic one, while an Hispano-Suiza engine, lying under the floor with 150 hp, replaced the previous Hercules engine. The clients were still doubtful and when Chausson sold its bus operation to Saviem the ANG production was stopped, to reappear in 1960 in the form of a new Saviem bus, the SC-5 of 36 seats, using many elements of its previous bodywork but with an engine placed in the front. Less than 300 ANG versions were produced.
The scale model is quite heavy, with a plastic body and metal baseplate. The registration plate is from the Seine-et-Marne department (Île-de-France) and the destination plate says Fontainebleau, famous for its royal castle.
The model is accurately shaped and the red and cream livery is correct, but its symmetrical body is quite ugly. A nice interior is fitted with a well detailed drivers cockpit. Good side windows and wheels are fitted. There are the usual added parts like bumpers, lights, mirrors and wipers (three of them). No apparent differences to the French edition. A correct reproduction of an unsuccessful French bus.
No. 54 (no. 43 in the French collection) Ford F600 “Chiva” rural bus 1990 – The mountainous geography of the Andean regions, like Colombia and Ecuador, requires the use of very strong vehicles for their rural public transport network. These are usually built on a truck or bus chassis with an artisan built open wood body with basic fitments and bench like seats. They are characterised by the use of bright colours (usually the yellow, blue, and red colours of the national flags) and elaborate ornamental paint work.
They are fitted with a ladder to a large and strong rack on the roof which is used for carrying people, livestock and merchandise. Locally they are called “chiva” (Spanish for goat) or “escalera” (Spanish for ladder). Chivas were first introduced in the Medellin region in the early 20th century, soon becoming a natural solution to the need of moving both cargo and passengers simultaneously. Through the years their aesthetic approach became a cultural trademark of rural Colombia, evolving into works of folk art. Others regard them as a symbol of underdevelopment. A similar approach, but based on a Willys Jeep, is called “jeepao”.
Sometime you could find these unique buses also in New York, were the “chiva” has developed into a customised bus, carrying party goers around the city. The “chiva” modelled in this collection is based on a Ford “F600” truck chassis, usually with a V8 diesel engine, famous for its endurance and longevity. The first-generation Ford F-Series (light trucks and pickups) was introduced in late 1947 and assembled at sixteen different Ford factories. All F-series were available with optional “Marmon-Herrington All Wheel Drive” until 1959.
Their design evolved steadily and successive generations followed each other constantly. According to the year indicated by Hachette this “chiva” should be based on the eighth generation of the Ford F-Series produced from 1986 to 1991, their engine lineup was updated with both the inline-6 and the V8 converted to fuel injection, while the the diesel V8 from International (Navistar) was enlarged from 420 to 444 cubic inches.
The scale model sports the red, light blue and yellow colours of the Colombian flag, and is made with the usual combination of plastic body and metal baseplate. It is a large and fairly heavy model. Near the engine cover an oil bath air filter is correctly reproduced (compulsory because of the dusty tracks), with a vertical silver exhaust at the rear which leads up to the roof, in order to avoid smoke being drawn in to the passenger area. Correctly, it is a very basic bus, but it is enriched by the details: printed artwork, ladder, roof rack, mirrors, and grille. Nice front wheels are fitted. A correct Colombian registration plate is fitted, with the municipality of issuance “Andes” embossed at the bottom of the plate itself. Again there are no apparent differences to the French edition. A colourful choice, adding a “Spanish American touch” to the collection.
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