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.
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.