By Fabrizio Panico
Three more models 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.
In this third part we are back with buses from France and USA, then a new country : Spain, but all of them quite distinctive.
No. 7 (no. 10 in the French collection) GMC 6000 School bus 1989
Since the second half of the 19th century, in many rural areas of the United States and Canada there was clear the need of a transportation system for those students who lived beyond practical walking distance from school. From farm wagons to horse-drawn carriages, switching then to horseless vehicles, upgrading the body design as long as time and requirements advanced, up to 1939 when the design and production of school buses were “standardised” in a set of rules to be adopted by all body manufacturers.
Those standards were then upgraded, but one of them remains a key part of every school bus in North America today : the adoption of a standard paint colour for all school buses, named National School Bus Glossy Yellow, considered easiest to see in dawn and dusk. Another North American icon was born. GMC, the commercial vehicles division of General Motors since 1912, developed from 1940 a series of dedicated chassis for school duty : the baby boom of the 50s validated this choice, the demand from the school districts growing without end. Today almost half a million school buses are in constant use. GMC based the following B-series on its medium-duty trucks series 6000 : a cowled ladder chassis produced in three separate generations; introduced in 1966, the B-series was redesigned in 1984 and 1993. A strong and reliable chassis, with a wide range of engines : gasoline and diesel, and then alternative fuels like LPG (propane) and CNG (compressed natural gas). The body was usually produced by local suppliers, according to the national standards.
Quite an heavy model, metal body and plastic chassis. Dashboard and seats are a bit basic, but the exterior is really beautiful : it well represents the sturdiness of a vehicle found almost in every town of the States. The classic “yellow” livery is beautifully reproduced, rich with tampo printings. There is nice modelling of all the different mirrors, flashing lights and the swinging (alas not operative) STOP sign on the left side. The front grille is very well represented with the GMC logo behind it.
Licence plates are from Pennsylvania, Loysville School District, oddly an area rich in Amish communities.. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
No. 8 (no. 6 in the French collection) Pegaso Z-403 Monoscocca 1951
Pegaso was a Spanish manufacturer of industrial vehicles and, for a short while, sports cars. Its parent company, ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.), was created in 1946, based on the nationalization of the Hispano-Suiza Spanish assets, under the direction of automotive engineer Wifred Ricart, of Alfa Romeo fame. ENASA belonged to the state-owned INI (Instituto Nacional de Industria) industrial holding, established in 1941 to promote the development of Spanish industry and economy. INI included a broad range of companies, including SEAT, later on sold to VW. IVECO took over ENASA in 1990, and the Pegaso name disappeared in 1994 after building more than 350,000 vehicles.
The Z-403 Monocasco was a two-level monocoque (chassis-less) coach, fitted with a 125 hp diesel engine asymmetrically mounted amidships, and built between 1951 and 1957. For maximum comfort, independent front-wheel suspension was used, with transverse arms and torsion bars. The Z-403 structure allowed a better use of space, with all the mechanical units located on the underside of the vehicle, isolated from the passenger compartment, allowing great comfort, good weight distribution and high stability. Its structure, which later on inspired the Scenicruiser, was made up of steel profiles covered with steel panels combined with corrugated sheets of light alloy. The roof was made entirely of light alloy. All of them were structurally important parts. Highly though of because of its safety, comfort and passenger amenities, like radio, bar and even a bookcase, 50 vehicles it were produced in Barcelona. Primary customers were Iberia and Aviaco airlines and Atesa tour operator. No survivors are known to exist.
A very interesting model, beautifully reproduced, with many details that add to its value. Metal body and plastic baseplate, with a silver exhaust system. On the baseplate the model is correctly called “Monocasco”, the Spanish word for a monocoque body. The silver and white livery has a red streak along its sides and front. ENASA title and logo on the sides. Two “metal bars” protect the upper deck windscreens from tree branches, whilst the inside luggage racks are well represented. Licence plate says “1950” while the bus is reported being 1951, very likely a manufacturer test plate. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
No. 9 (no. 9 in the French collection) Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama 1955
Creativity, technology. audacity : three words that well represent André Citroën adventure from 1919. A pioneer not only in the automotive field, but also in advertising, sales and even toys, obviously he couldn’t ignore commercial vehicles. The Citroën truck type 55 launched in 1953, remaining in production until 1965, was available with either a petrol or diesel engine inherited from the Type 45. It had a payload in the order of 5 tonnes and was available in three wheelbases and in 2 x 4 and 4 x 4 versions. An economical and robust chassis, with easy maintenance and a straight six petrol engine: the ideal choice for Jean-Louis Dubreuil, the founder of Cityrama, when he decided to modernise its open top bus fleet. For his futurist project the company Currus would build a double-decker bus with stylishly curved, wrap-around windows, like the famous “bateaux-mouches”. Currus was a company founded in 1900, buying and then renaming the old carriage manufacturer Perrotin and Bollinger (Currus is the latin for carriage), and then in 1906 buying Chastel and David, another carriage manufacturer founded in 1805. By becoming their successor Currus could proclaim itself the oldest body maker in France!
Currus had to overcome many technical problems : the structure had to be as light as possible and visibility at a maximum. Steel profiles and panels were used for the body; curved glass was still in its infancy and plexiglass was often used in its place. The roof was transparent, and could be removed so the upper deck could be used for open air touring in the summer months. Two more buses were built in 1957, and the previous one was facelifted to their shape. Later on four more were produced using a chassis by Saviem. They were retired at the end of the 80s.
Wow, this is really quite a strange model, but it well represents the original vehicle. Due to its complicated shape the body is part metal, part plastic, while the chassis is plastic. The silver livery has the Cityrama logo and red and blue accents. Nice details are included like the open top of the upper deck and the green windows to reduce solar radiation. The interior is basic though the driver’s area is a bit more detailed. Correctly the upper deck seats are in rows of two (right side) plus one (left side), but they are of the new simpler type, without the integrated individual speakers. The lower deck seats are arranged in rows of two plus two, but all the pictures showing the older seats have them in rows of two plus one. Is it possible that the new seats allowed an increased capacity? Maybe a reader can answer the question?
The body represents the vehicle after the 1957 “update” with three front grilles to help prevent the radiator overheating in the heavy Parisian traffic. The licence plate is from the Paris department, and is the plate on the first 1955 Cityrama Currus. The frontal “rostrum” sports the “Ville de Paris” shield, with the legendary Isis boat. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
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