Category Archives: Berliet

Hachette Italy World Buses Part 16

By Fabrizio Panico

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

Nos. 46  to 48

This time we visit fabulous India with a Tata bus, France again with another Berliet and step behind the Iron Curtain with a postwar Skoda. All of them are from the Italian Hachette partwork ‘Autobus dal mondo’, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French partwork ‘Autobus et autocars du monde’, produced in Bangladesh by Ixo. At the time of writing Italian Hachette has announced that the partwork will be extended to eighty models (the French one is marching towards 120), but the first two models (nos. 61 and 62) are nothing more than new liveries on old castings: not a good start, let’s hope we see something new.

No. 46 (no. 45 in the French collection) Tata LPO 1512 1990 – The origins of Tata can be traced to a company founded in 1868 by Jamshedji Tata : today Tata Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate holding company, headquartered in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), and owned by Tata Sons, a registered charity. One of its members is Tata Motors Limited (formerly TELCO, short for Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company) a multinational automotive manufacturing company producing passenger cars, trucks, vans, coaches, buses, sports cars, construction equipment and military vehicles,. The group includes Jaguar Land Rover, with manufacturing and assembly plants in India, as well as in Argentina, South Africa, Great Britain and Thailand.

Founded in 1945 to produce locomotives, the company manufactured its first commercial vehicle in 1954 in a collaboration with Daimler-Benz AG (which ended in 1969): the chassis was a copy of the Mercedes L 3500, and from it was derived a whole series of bus and truck chassis, like the Tata 1210 and then the 1510, and its more modern variant the 1512. The Tata 1510/1512 was the largest selling bus in India and neighbouring countries, combining good features and low ownership cost. Built on a sturdy frame with parallel side members, suited to the difficult local conditions, and equipped from 1993 with a Cummins straight six diesel engine (previously with a Tata-Mercedes Benz 697 engine), the 1512 was usually bodied by contracted suppliers to customer requirements. Alas in later years its reliability was often hindered by poor maintenance causing frequent accidents, notwithstanding a legal maximum speed of 40 km/h.

The scale model represents a 1990 large capacity long distance bus where, lacking any air conditioning, the side doors (obviously on the left side) have been deleted, at the expense of safety. There is the usual combination of a plastic body and a metal baseplate, which is well detailed. It is painted in a bright livery in white, yellow and light green. On the sides there is the “Stage Carriage” writing, meaning it is a vehicle stopping at designated places, plus others printed in Indian characters, which the Author cannot decipher. The registration plate is one from the Delhi Regional Transport Office, correctly printed in black over yellow, as required for a public use. The prefix DL-1P is specifically allocated to Delhi commercial buses.

The angular shape of the bus is well reproduced, with large windows and many separate plastic parts, like lights, bumpers, mirrors and wipers, plus a chromed side exhaust. Very nice wheels and driver’s ‘cab’ area. The seats are only basic. Note the shadows on the windows representing the safety bars on their lower side. No apparent differences to the French edition. A nice model of an almost unknown bus, at least in Europe.


 

No. 47 (no. 36 in the French collection) Berliet PLR 10 1955 – We have already seen the Berliet history and its Crusair (see part 8, no. 22), PHL 10 (see part 10, no. 30) and PR100 ranges (Jelcz version, see part 14, no. 40) and how after the Second World War only commercial vehicle production was resumed, but that Chausson, Isobloc and Renault buses were much more innovative. In 1951 Berliet launched the PLR 8, a very powerful bus, but old fashioned even before it was launched: its heavy welded box frame, its dual rear wheels and horizontal engine meant high costs, both to buy, to use and to maintain. The PLR 8, an urban bus, was equipped with a 125 CV five cylinders MDUH diesel engine, while the PLR 10, an intercity bus, had a 150 CV six cylinders MDZH diesel, later used also on the urban version of the PLR 10. In 1958 a new generation of very low consumption engines was developed thanks to the MAN injection system, but this evolution did not save the model from its fate, as it was not the commercial success the new engine deserved.

With the cooperation of Vétra for the electric systems, Berliet produced a trolleybus version of the PLR 10, named ELR, a variant appreciated in Nice and Marseille.

The scale model represents an urban version (the correct name should be PLR 10 U) of the Monegasque CAM (Compagnie des Autobus de Monaco) with only 20 seated places and large central and rear platform for 70 standing places. The model is in a very elegant white livery with the coat of arms of the Principality on the roof. There is the usual plastic body with metal baseplate, and the exhaust is enhanced in silver.

The red circle on the front means that the vehicle runs a regular service, but it is in contrast with the “Special” in the destination board. The registration plate is not correct for the year, it should be white on blue, the blue on white was released only from 1978. Very likely it is a copy of a preserved and re-registered bus.

A nice front grille is provided, suitably pierced, and good wheels. A well reproduced driver’s cockpit is present as well as a basic interior. Usual added parts like lights, bumpers, mirrors and wipers are fitted. No apparent differences to the French edition. A good choice, fifties buses are the most loved.


 

No. 48 (no. 37 in the French collection) Skoda 706 RO 1947 – In 1859, Count Wallenstein-Vartenberk, owner of an already established foundry and engineering work, set up a branch in Pilsen, then in the Kingdom of Bohemia, part of the Austrian Empire. In 1869, the plant was taken over by Emil Škoda, who soon expanded the firm, and in the 1880s founded what was then a very modern steelwork, which was a leader in arms manufacturing. Exports included heavy castings, such as parts for the Niagara Falls power plant and for the Suez Canal sluices. In 1924, Škoda Works acquired the Laurin-Klement car manufacturer, later known as Škoda Auto.

The companies were separated after 1945, when the whole Czechoslovak economy came under government control : the car works in Mladá Boleslav became AZNP (Automobilové závody národní podnik or National Automobile Manufacturing Industry) today’s Škoda Auto, while the truck plant became part of a conglomerate of nine truck producers headquartered in Liberec as LIAZ (Liberecké automobilové závody), although the trucks and buses were still marketed as Škodas. Later, Škoda became well known in the USSR and other countries as a trolleybus manufacturer, but when in late 1989 the company was privatised very soon mismanagement, and the loss of guaranteed access to the East-European market, led to a collapse. In 1991 the Czech government sought a foreign partner for the passenger car works, choosing Volkswagen with a 30% initial stake, rising to 100% ownership by 1999.

The Škoda 706 RO is an urban bus produced from 1947 on the frame of the 706 R truck, and bodied by Sodomka (from 1948 named Karosa). In 1896 Josef Sodomka founded a manufacturing plant for coaches, and producing automobile bodywork of its own design from 1925, designed to be mounted on automobile chassis produced by Praga. In 1948, the company was nationalised and incorporated into a ‘National Enterprise’, which was then given the name Karosa (acronym for “Factory for carriages, cars, rotors, machine tools, cutting machines and buses”). Karosa become the sole manufacturer of buses in Czechoslovakia, but in 1989, after the fall of the communist regime, Karosa had to reduce its production. Help came from Renault, Karosa later becoming part of Irisbus and then of Iveco Bus. At the time the RO was a modern high capacity bus and was exported to many countries within the communist block, China included. The engine, a Skoda straight six diesel engine with 145 CV, was placed in front next to driver, and the rear axle was propelled by a long driveshaft. The body presented a very long rear overhang. Its heir, the RTO (quite similar, but much more comfortable with a lowered frame), was presented in 1958 and continued serial production until 1972, while it was produced under licence until 1977 by Jelcz (see part 14, no. 40) in Poland.

The scale model represents quite accurately a bus exported to China, with a red and white livery, and a dark grey roof. The Author apologises but he is unable to translate the Chinese characters. At the time China encouraged the workforce to live close to work to limit need for transport to work. Nowadays their cities are blocked by traffic like ours, and worse.

The bus has the usual form of construction with a plastic body and metal baseplate, which is well detailed. A side exhaust is added, as are front and rear tow hooks. Very nice doors and the wheels are fitted. Among the added plastic parts are the usual lights, bumpers, mirrors (five of them) and wipers. On the roof a triangle is fitted, very likely to be used to indicate the presence of a trailer. Another nice reproduction of a bus almost unknown in Western Europe.


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Hachette Italy World Buses Part 14

By Fabrizio Panico.

All text and photographs by, and copyright of the Author unless stated otherwise.

Parts 40 to 42

This time we travel to three continents : Europe, America and Australia. A French bus made in Poland, another American Greyhound and an Aussie Ford, all of them 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. 40 (no. 34 in the French collection) Berliet Jelcz PR100 1973 – We have already seen the Berliet history and its Cruisair (see part 8, no. 22) and PHL 10 ranges (see part 10, no. 30) and how during the fifties Berliet was successful, but then, lacking the resources to innovate, it was acquired by Citroën, already owned by Michelin. After the 1973 oil crisis, Michelin decided to concentrate on its tire business and Citroën was sold to Peugeot and Berliet  to Renault. Renault merged Berliet with Saviem to form Renault Véhicules Industriels (RVI) in 1978. After the merger, the Berliet name was phased out and the last Berliet bus in production, the 1971 PR100, continued to be sold as a Renault until 1993.

The PR100 was a full-size step-entrance single-decker city bus, with over 13,500 buses of the PR100 range produced in France alone. The original PR100 was developed and manufactured based on German practices of the late 1960s, with a self-supporting body and a chassis with a central beam and a welded framework of squared tubes. Available with a rear Berliet diesel V8 engine producing 170 bhp, it was 11.25 m long with three basic variations of seating/standing combinations.

The PR100 was mainly used in France, with some exported to Algeria, Australia (usually badged Mack) and Morocco. The design was licensed to Jelcz in Poland, and used in many Polish cities. Jelcz is a Polish company (Jelczanskie Zaklady Samochodowe) which produced trucks, buses and trolley buses in the communist era. It currently manufacturies offroad military trucks. In 1952 a former German armaments factory in Jelcz-Laskowice near Wroclaw, newly part of  western Poland, was selected to develop and build bodies for Lublin and Star trucks. A company called “Zaklady Budowy Nadwozi Samochodowych” (Car-body Construction Works) was established, and soon produced a small bus on a Star truck chassis. But there was no time to develop new prototypes and in 1958 it was decided to produce under license the Skoda 706 RO (we’ll see it as no. 48 in part sixteen).

In 1972 the Berliet PR100 was chosen for a mass production under license, but soon there were issues with the structure of the body itself as it was not suited to the rough Polish roads (same problem already seen with the ZIS 154, see no. 37 part thirteen) because of the poor quality of the Polish components and the welding process. In 1975 it was replaced by the PR110, now 12 m long, with an higher floor, a better structure, a third door and a more powerful engine, licensed from Leyland.

The scale model is probably based on one of the preserved buses (there are many pictures of it on the web). It feels the “right” weight as the plastic body is fitted with a metal baseplate. It has a bright livery in cream and red, typical of Warsaw (see its famous mermaid insignia on the sides). Many small separate plastic parts are fitted, like lights, bumpers, mirrors and wipers. The model has the correct “square” original shape and the large windows. It has a basic and authentic interior. Nice rear engine grilles are included as is a neat Berliet crest on the front. Correct black registration plates, WA for Warsaw, capital of the Polish Masovian voivodeship (an administrative subdivision, like Italian provinces, of Poland). There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice model of a bus quite common in Poland.


 

No. 41 (no. 54 in the French collection) GMC PD-3751 Greyhound 1947 – Greyhound and General Motors have already been our guests, the beautiful Super Scenicruiser as no. 4 in part two, and the GMC history in no. 29 part ten. Greyhound Lines Inc was born in Minnesota in 1914, adopting the famous Greyhound name and insignia from 1929, and after many spin-offs, mergers, and bankruptcies it is nowadays the largest motorcoach operator in the United States and Canada. Its whole history can be easily found on the web,

Here we have the famous “Silversides”, forerunners of the Scenicruisers and Super Scenicruisers. In 1936 General Motors and the Yellow Coach Company showed a groundbreaking coach, the 719 Super Coach, partly financed by Greyhound, an inter-city transport with aluminium semi-monocoque chassis, rear transverse engine, angle-drive transmission, raised platform with large underfloor luggage compartments and much more.

In 1939 it evolved into the PD/PG-3701 and PD/PG-4101, the iconic “Silversides” from their corrugated aluminium sheet side panels. Their name said all : P as Parlor Coach, D as Diesel, G as Gasoline, 37 or 41 as the number of seats. But the Second World War limited production to less than 1,000 units.

When Greyhound plans for a revolutionary postwar bus design did not materialise, 2,000 buses of the familiar prewar Silversides pattern were ordered from General Motors and delivered in 1947 and 1948 : the PD-3751 and PD-4151. The chassis was now 2 feet longer and the engine was the famous Detroit Diesel 6-71 producing 190 hp, a two-stroke inline six, used in many different military vehicles during the Second World War.

The scale model is named GMC, but in reality GMC badges did not appear until 1968, replacing GM, GM Coach and Yellow Coach badges previously fitted. Its striking styling is reproduced well. It has the usual plastic body and metal baseplate. It sports the “classic” blue and silver livery, beautifully reproduced, complete with all the Greyhound decorations. The 1947 registration plate is from California, while the destination board reads “San Francisco”. Very nice wheels, seats and the driver’s area. Many small separate parts are used and nicely “chromed bumpers”. The steering wheel seems to be a bit too big but that is a small point. No apparent differences to the French edition. A good model of an iconic bus, seen in many black and white US movies.


No. 42 (no. 60 in the French collection) Ford Super Coach Greyhound 1937 – Another Greyhound ? not exactly, despite all similarities Greyhound Australia has never had any affiliation with the FirstGroup-owned Greyhound Lines, or their out of USA companies. Greyhound Australia is Australia’s only long national distance coach operator running services in all mainland states and territories. It was formed in 1928 with a service between Toowoomba and Brisbane, creating a full national coach company in the 1970s.

Today it is owned by KordaMentha, an Australian advisory and investment firm. Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited is the Australian subsidiary of US Ford Motor Company. It was founded in Geelong, Victoria, in 1925 as an outpost of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. At that time, Ford Canada was a separate company from Ford USA, Henry Ford having granted the manufacturing rights of Ford motor vehicles in the British Empire (later the Commonwealth), excepting the UK, to Canadian investors.

Ford Australia’s first products were Model Ts assembled from complete knock-down (CKD) kits provided by Ford of Canada, followed by Model A and V8. After the Second World War Ford Australia assembled imported Ford models. Initially, they assembled the UK sourced Pilot, then a range of British cars, including the Prefect, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac. Ford also assembled the Canadian Ford V8 and later fully Australian design like the Falcon. Due to noncompetitive manufacturing costs and poor sales, production ceased in 2016, but Ford are continuing to design and develop cars and trucks for the Asia/Pacific region.

The Greyhound Super Coach is a one-off, built on the chassis of a truck and bodied by the Watt Brothers Coach of Brisbane, with a wood framework and plywood panels covered in sheet metal. Very likely the engine was the classic Ford V8 producing 85 hp. Chassis and body were found some time ago in a local junkyard (see pictures on the web), but it has not yet been restored. Due to its Australian origins, there is a central door on the left side only.

The scale model is true to the original streamlined shape and the white livery seems to be authentic judging by the many old pictures. A plastic body and metal baseplate are used, with an added “chromed” exhaust and front and rear plastic lower fairings. Some plastic parts are added like lights and bumpers. It is basic model with no rear mirrors and one wiper only. A basic interior is fitted but it does have a nice dashboard. A large baggage area with rails is fitted on the roof, but there is no ladder. The registration plates were issued by New South Wales, the “First State”, black on yellow with the prefix Metro, as required for commercial buses in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong districts. As usual there are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice model of an almost unknown bus.


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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 10

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Issues 28 to 30

Three more buses, each one from a manufacturer already previously met in this listing: Fiat, General Motors and Berliet, 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 for Ixo.

No. 28 (not yet issued in the French collection) Fiat 411/1 Cansa ATM 1962 – A typically urban bus, produced by the Italian Fiat Veicoli Industriali (see part 8 no. 23) from 1957 to 1970, replacing the 680RN. Adopted for mass transport in all large cities of Italy, it had a big commercial success : over 1,500 were produced and their legendary strength and reliability extended the working life until well after 1990.

The 411 represented a real revolution in public transport : despite having a front engine (and a large bonnet next to the driver) it had a very low floor, and it was the first to offer power steering and a semi-automatic gearbox. The usual body was by CaNSA (Carrozzerie Novaresi Società Anonima), an ex-aeronautical company, from 1936 in the Fiat Group, based in Cameri, near Novara, founded in 1913 as “Società Anonima Gabardinei” by Giuseppe Gabardinei, to promote and develop aeronautical activities (also a flight school), later CANSA (acronym for “Costruzioni Aeronautiche Novaresi Società Anonima“). In 1946 it started to produce coach bodies (becoming CaNSA or Cansa) as the official bodywork of the Fiat buses. In the late 1960s, the denomination Cansa was abandoned in favour of Fiat Cameri‘s bodywork. The 411 was also available with bodies by specialised bodybuilders like Menarini, Macchi, Piaggio, Portesi, Pistoiesi, Breda F.C., etc.

The first version had the Fiat 203 engine of 10.7 litres developing 150 hp (a diesel straight six, the same unit was also used in the 682 truck), in 1960 the second series, renamed Fiat 411/1, benefited from the Fiat engine 203A/61 of 11.5 litres developing 177 hp. At the same time there were some changes to the body, like the use of a three door front exit. On the same chassis Fiat produced the 2411, the most widely distributed trolleybus in Italy.

The scale model is a faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the ATM collection (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi). It has a plastic body and metal baseplate which has basic details of the chassis.

The livery and the registration plate are correct for the period. Nice doors and wheels and well modelled windows are evident. Small details like the roof exiting engine exhaust are captured as well. Two rear mirrors, front lights and bumpers are all made as separate parts. A scale model which represents this urban bus, so common everywhere in Italy, very well.

 

No. 29 (no. 22 in the French collection) General Motors TDH-3610 1955 – GMC (General Motors Truck Company) is a division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors, its production focuses nowadays on trucks and utility vehicles.

General Motors was founded by William C. Durant in 1908, as a holding company for Buick. In 1909 GM purchased the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, then the Reliance Motor Car Company was also purchased by GM, merged in 1911 with Rapid, and in 1912 the marque “GMC Truck” first appeared at the New York International Auto Show. In 1925 GM purchased a controlling interest in Yellow Coach, a bus manufacturer founded in 1923 by John D. Hertz as a subsidiary of his Yellow Cab Company. After purchasing the remaining portion in 1943 and merging it into their GM Truck Division, GM renamed it GM Truck and Coach Division. Although GM continued with the Yellow Coach product line, the Yellow Coach badge gave way to the GM Coach or just GM nameplate in 1944, while GMC badges did not appear until 1968. GM withdrew from the bus and coach market because of increased competition in the late 1970s and 1980s.

The GM “Old-look” transit bus was introduced in 1940 by Yellow Coach beginning with the production of the model TG-3201 (Transit Gasoline – 32 seats, 1st series). Production of most “Old-look” models was stopped upon the release of the GM New-Look bus in 1959, however some shorter models continued to be built until 1969. About 38,000 “Old-look” buses were built during the 29-year production run, their name is an unofficial term applied after the release of the GM New-Look, this time an official term used by GM to describe their new line of buses.

The GM “Old-look” bus was somewhat streamlined in appearance, had small windows (often with additional windows below the roof), and was built using a monocoque bodywork with steel frame covered with riveted sheet metal panels, rather than the old body-on-frame design. Most “Old-look” buses were powered by the Detroit Diesel 6-71 inline six-cylinder diesel engine, while the shorter models were powered by the four-cylinder version of the same diesel engine, but it was possible to choose a gasoline engine. Manual and automatic transmissions were available, while in 1940 and 1942 a few buses were built with electric propulsion systems instead of a transmission. It was available in several lengths and widths according to local legislations.

In 1946 GM began offering its Thermo-matic heating and ventilation system, in 1953 air-ride suspension became standard on all but the smallest model buses, and in 1958 air conditioning was added as an available option. Following WW2 an agreement was reached to build GM’s model TDH-3610 under license in Soviet Union (but with diesel-electric propulsion, similar to that used for the TDE-40xx models), and production was assigned to ZiS (Zavod imeni Stalina) as model number 154 (we’ll see it later on, as no. 37 in this series). The ZiS-154 at first used a Yaroslavl YAZ-204 diesel, but supply problems forced a switch to the Detroit Diesel 6-71, also built under license. Problems with the reliability of the drive-train components resulted in the ZiS-154 being discontinued after only four years of production and 1,165 units.

The scale model represents a famous bus : the “Rosa Parks” bus, a TDH-3610 (Transit bus Diesel with automatic transmission – 40 seats, 10th series) of the Montgomery (Alabama) City Lines.

The legal autonomy granted to the southern states after the Secession War led to a series of laws aimed at the reduction of the civil rights of the people of colour. The segregation imposed in private and public places was intended to prevent the creation of a multiracial society. In 1955 a woman, Rosa Parks, refused to surrender her place on the bus to a white. The arrest and subsequent condemnation pushed the then unknown Martin Luther King Jr to launch a protest campaign and boycott against Montgomery bus companies, lasting more than a year. The parallel domestic and international reactions resulted in a first reduction in segregation in 1956, but its abolition took place only in 1964.

The model is quite heavy as it has a metal body and a plastic baseplate. The baseplate is not very detailed and the rear exhaust is only highlighted by silver paint. The baseplate shows the model as “TDH 3714”, which is quite strange. Front and rear bumpers are chromed and separate parts like front and rear lights, front grilles and wipers are used. Well detailed wheels are fitted but only one rear view mirror and a rather basic interior. A nice “GM coach” badge is fitted. The adverts are interesting period items: Hanna Paints at the rear, and the side ones say “Why fight traffic ? Go by bus” and that was in 1955! There are no apparent differences to the French edition.

 

No. 30 (no. 23 in the French collection) Berliet PHL 10 Grand Raid 1966 – We have already seen the Berliet history and its Cruisair range (see part 8, no. 22), and how after the Second World War only commercial vehicle production was resumed, but that Chausson, Isobloc and Renault buses were much more innovative.

In 1951 Berliet launched the PLR8, a very powerful bus, but already old-fashioned. Then in 1956 it launched the PLH, with innovative styling and a beam frame with a base of square section steel tubes and a round tubular body skeleton. The squared body allowed maximum interior space, large windows, a light and practical driving position, and excellent soundproofing. The engine, an in-line five cylinder diesel with 150 CV, was placed horizontally amidship on the right side. To follow the evolving legislation Berliet presented in 1959 an evolution of the PLH, the PHN or “Randonnèe” with an extended wheelbase and an optimised structure, while the old PLH was renamed PHC or “Escapade”. The mechanical components were maintained, with the option of a 6 cylinder engine with 180 CV. The PHN underwent an endurance test from November 1960 to March 1961 at the Autodrome of Miramas : 200 000 km were travelled in 97 days with an 85.86 km/h average. From 1960 the Randonnèe was updated stylistically, and in 1964 to the PH range was added the PHL or “Grand Raid”, an extended version, derived from the PH100, an urban bus for mass transport. During the fifties Berliet was highly successful, but in the sixties the competition with Saviem, Magirus, Mercedes, Scania, Volvo and Fiat was very tough : it was necessary to innovate continuously, but once again resources were lacking and in 1967 Berliet was acquired by Citroen. Between the PLH and PH range, more than 6,000 units were produced.

The scale model has the usual plastic body and metal baseplate, with basic details of the chassis.

Quite a bright livery and superb visibility thanks to the large windows, which are nicely black framed.

The registration plate is from the department of the Alps of Haute-Provence, while Reillanne is a small town in the Luberon regional natural park.

Nice wheels and a well detailed interior are fitted. The seating features nice split individual coach seats with high backrests. The driver’s cab is well detailed. As usual many separate parts are fitted: front and rear chromed bumpers, lights, wipers and front grille. A nice model. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


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