By Fabrizio Panico
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Parts 73 to 75
After a short delay (sorry), here is the 25th part of my summary of 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. Here we’ll see another GM “New Look”, an interesting (but not very successful) Italian Fiat and an iconic Chausson.
No. 73 (no. 96 in the French collection) General Motors “New Look” TDH-5303 1965 – We have already seen the GM history and how the New Look bus (see part 20, no. 59) was introduced in 1959 to replace the previous transit buses, soon becoming an iconic North American sight, and gaining the “fishbowl” nickname after its six-piece rounded windscreen. The huge window surfaces, the higher and longer body and the more “dynamic” styling (a bit reminiscent of the Scenicruiser) made the New Look very welcome to the public, especially when compared to the slightly clumsy “Old Look”. The denomination (TDH-5303) says it all: a transit bus (T), diesel engined (D) and with a hydraulic transmission (H), a long chassis (53 for 12,20 metres), third series (03). Indeed the four series are all aesthetically very similar, only the GM monogram and the interior design underwent modifications.
This scale model sports the dark green and grey livery of the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, with a plastic body and metal baseplate, it is well detailed and has an added silver exhaust. It is a very large model, with a correct interior and driver’s area. Based on the previous model of the New Look TDH-5301 (no. 59) the only difference seems to be the addition of a box on the roof, very likely an air conditioning system, plus new rear lights and engine panel. A few reflectors have been added on the sides, but the chassis still indicates TDH 5301. The route is 41, from White Plains Road (Bronx) to 142nd Street (Upper Manhattan). There are no apparent differences to the French edition. Another smart re-use of a previous mould, but we would have preferred something new!
No. 74 (no. 97 in the French collection) FIAT 412 Aerfer 1961 – A double decker in Rome? Why not! In 1905 a Thornycroft 24 HP double decker bus was seen on Roman roads used bySocietà Romana Tramways Omnibus (SRTO), and in 1930 the Lancia Omicron Duplex was seen in Campidoglio Square, only to be surpassed in 1932 by a gargantuan “two deckers and a half” on the road from Rome to Tivoli. Beautiful pictures of them all can be found at the following web page. Established in 1909 as AATM, the Roman transport company changed its name almost immediately to ATM (Municipal Tramways Company) and started its commercial service in 1911. It then gradually absorbed SRTO‘s lines and rolling stock, which ran most of the urban tramways network. In 1926 the City of Rome was replaced by the Governorship of Rome, ATM changed its name to ATG, and two years later to ATAG (Bus and Tramways Company of the Governorship). In 1944, the city returned to its original status, so the ATAG became ATAC.
In the 1960s, following the withdrawal of the tramways network there was a drastic reduction of transport capacity, ATAC decided to try double deckers again, which had not been very successful in the 1930s. Two prototypes were tested in 1964, built on a Fiat 412 chassis, derived from the contemporary 410 and improved through a double skeleton of longitudinal and cross beams (for the Fiat history see part 8 no. 23). The bodywork was of aeronautical type, developed by AERFER of Naples using a stiffened shell structure in light aluminium alloy (Costruzioni Aeronautiche e Ferroviarie, Aeronautical and Railway Constructions, later merged in Aeritalia). The engine was a six cylinder diesel developing 176 HP, installed in a semi-horizontal position and placed transversely at the rear. The floor was partially lowered between the two axles, with three quadruple doors and two inside staircases to the upper floor, the front one for the ascent and the rear for the descent. But the 412 had been designed for characteristics entirely different from the Italian ones (a South American order, later cancelled), and soon the 412 revealed itself to be unsuitable for the road network of Rome. The people, fearful of being unable to get off at the desired stop, preferred to crowd the lower floor (which could contain 12 persons seated and 80 standing), leaving the 45 seats of the upper deck unused. Only 58 of these buses were used by ATAC, out of the ten years production total of only 127 units. Many large Italian towns tested the 412 (Bari, Bologna, Florence, Naples, Verona), but with poor results.
The scale model is based on a bus from Florence, route 17 from Viale Duse to Piazza Puccini (roughly from Coverciano to the Cascine park). The model is superb: made with a metal lower body and plastic upper body and chassis. It is well detailed and quite heavy. Livery is the typical green bicolour of Italian buses of the era, enhanced by an aluminium fascia, and the printed lettering is accurate. However, the interior is poor, spoiled by metal supports, and the staircases are only partially modelled. Good value for money despite this. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. Hachette must be congratulated for the choice of such a rare vehicle.
No. 75 (no. 98 in the French collection) Chausson APH 47 1947 – Nice to meet Chausson and its products again. After the 1950 APH (see part five, no. 14), the 1956 ANG coach (see part eighteen, no. 53) and the 1953 APU/53 (see part twenty two, no. 66), it is now the turn of the 1947 APH 47 to appear in the collection. Based in the Paris region from 1907, and a initially a supplier of components to the automotive industry, after the 1930s Chausson 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 bus related activities and Chausson left that market. After the Second World War the first Panhard engined buses were soon joined by a petrol Hotchkiss engined one, this choice needed to extend the bus front cover to accommodate it. So was born the “nez de cochon” or “pig’s nose”, which later became the standard design. In 1947, APH 47 was the new name of the previous APH2, powered by a four-in-line Panhard diesel engine, developing 100 HP. A light and efficient vehicle, it was constantly improved in the following years leading to strong sales. It was employed by the RATP mainly on suburban lines, but it was found everywhere else in France.
A plastic body and metal baseplate feature on this model sporting the classic RATP livery: dark green and cream. There is a well detailed baseplate, and the model has all the usual small added parts. Again this model has a poor interior, the seats seem to lack any space for the passengers legs. It is quite similar to the APU/53 (no. 66), but it is likely that they are from different moulds. The route shown is 297, from Porte d’Orléans to Chilly Mazarin, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, about 17 km from the centre of town, near Orly International Airport. The adverts on the side are very interesting: Dubonnet Quinquina was an aromatised wine-based aperitif, containing a small amount of quinine. It was created in 1846 in response to a competition run by the French Government to find a way of persuading French Foreign Legionnaires in North Africa to drink quinine (It is very bitter, but was needed to combat malaria). In the Italian partwork booklet the model is shown with a smaller decal, but the model sports the wider one, like the French model. On the rear of the bus there is an ad for the “Le Chat” soaps, cube-shaped soaps produced originally in Marseille, but now taken over by Henkel.
There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A model of a bus much loved by all the French.