By Maz Woolley
All text copyright of the Author and photographs provided by Autocult.
It is some time since we last looked at Autocult whose releases have continued through the year. Here we look at some of the curious vehicles from releases 6 and 7. All the models shown are resin cast to 1:43 scale in China for Germany.
#04017 Arzens La Baleine
Paul Arzens (1903–1990) was a Paris born French industrial designer of railway locomotives and motor cars. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and was able to live reasonably well on the sales of his paintings. This gave him time to pursue an interest in engineering and design.
In 1935 Arzens became involved in the production of cars. He designed and constructed a six-speed automatic transmission which he installed in an old Chrysler and proved to work. Robert Peugeot tried the car and was impressed, although hopes that the system might be adopted for the Peugeot 402 came to nothing, possibly because Peugeot had recently signed a deal with Cotal involving their pre-selector transmission.
Two years later Arzens came up with an eye-catching and streamlined two seater cabriolet prototype built on the chassis of an old Buick. The car was christened “La Baleine” (the whale). With its integrated headlights, panoramic curved windscreen (of ‘plexiglas’) and ‘ponton’ format styling the design anticipated sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s. The car subsequently joined the Bugattis of the Schlumpf Collection at what has become the National Motor Museum in Mulhouse.
#05021 Fiat 2100 Berlina Speciale
The Fiat 1800 and 2100 were six-cylinder saloons produced by Fiat between 1959 and 1968. Both six-cylinder models appeared in 1959 and in 1963, a four-cylinder 1500 cc version was added to the range. The 1800/2100 were designed in-house by Dante Giacosa famous for designing the Cisitalia as well as many cars produced during his time as Lead Engineer for Fiat.
The 2100 was Fiat’s flagship car much used by officials and industrialists. It introduced the crisp three box formula that was to serve Fiat well when used for the smaller Fiat 1500 and then 124/125 and 128 saloons. The 2100 had a 2054 cc six-cylinder engine and a simple but stylish interior with the instruments clustered on the then fashionable single panel in front of the steering wheel with a ribbon speedometer. In autumn 1959, the 2100 Speciale, as modelled here by Autocult, was introduced. It had a lengthened wheelbase and different front grille. The Speciale was used by diplomats and officials. The 2100 was discontinued in Italy during 1961, when the Fiat 2300 became available.
#06027 Monteverdi Palm Beach
The Monteverdi Palm Beach was a concept car built by Swiss manufacturer Monteverdi in 1975. It was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1975. The car never went into production and remained a one-off. It was built on a shortened Monteverdi High Speed 375C chassis and was painted copper with an interior made of cream-coloured leather. The purchase price of the Palm Beach was given as 124,000 Swiss francs.
The outside of the Palm Beach was influenced by the Montiverdi Berlinetta coupe particularly its low front end with the striking narrow radiator grille and the square twin headlamps. To the rear the tail lights were from a Triumph TR6 were used. Underneath the Palm Beach used the 375C chassis and drive train as well as the conventional 7.2 litre Chrysler V8 .
#07010 Moskvich G2
Every now and then the Soviet Union allowed its designers to develop something which was ‘fun’ rather than solely utilitarian. Though often, as here, the underpinnings were fairly basic. The Moskvitch G2 was a sports car derived from the earlier Moskvitch G1. Instead of an open wheel car it was now fitted with an aerodynamic body (spider or hard-top) and was capable of a top speed of 139 mph. This was a very credible speed given that the mid-mounted 70 hp 1,074 cc inline 4-cylinder flathead engine was derived from an engine developed for the pre-war Opel Kadett.
The G2 broke several speed records in the USSR in 1956. In 1959, the engine was replaced with a unit based on the engine from the Moskvitch 407 and a rollbar was installed above the driver’s seat. The G2 was decommissioned in late 1963.
#09006 Mercedes-Benz G bimobil Husky 235
The bimobile is a German demountable camper system similar to those commonly fitted to US pickups though in this case it is designed to directly attach to the host vehicles chassis. Obviously the key sales point is that you may use the host vehicle for other uses when not going camping and you may replace the host vehicle and fit it to the new one in turn. You may even by a small crane to help you take the unit off the chassis and to re-attach it. The unit is fitted with jacks so can even be lived in when it is not mounted on the chassis.
The bimobil started with a unit fitted to a Peugeot 504 but has been fitted to a wide range of chassis since including the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen as modelled by Autocult which gave it a real ‘go anywhere’ capability.
#10003 Opel Blitz Ludewig Aero
Germany in the 1930s was the home to a wide range of new vehicles and a strong trend towards aerodynamic solutions inspired by the new Autobahn network. The small bodybuilders Ludewig Brothers of Essen bagan a fruitful collaboration with Opel from the early 1930s. After the launch of the Opel Blitz three ton truck the Ludewig Brothers workshop developed some prototype bodies for this vehicle, one of them was a bus with a new body of streamlined and rounded form.
The style of the radiator grille was unusual – the Ludewig studio designers deviated from the traditional Opel shape, as generally seen on trucks and other buses, and created a new, rounded form for the front of the body. The engine cowling was rather elegantly combined with the rounded-off wings over the front wheels. To the rear of the body there was an aerodynamic crest reminiscent of the fin of a huge fish. Two interior styles were seen: in the first the passenger seats were arranged at an angle of 45 degrees to the windows for the optimum view; and in the second the passengers sat on sofa-like chairs.
This bus was coachbuilt by the Ludewig Brothers in very small numbers to order because a mass produced version would have cost more than the market would pay. About seven or eight are known to have been built and many were used to ferry foreign visitors to the 1936 Olympics around as part of the Nazi propaganda effort. They were briefly in service with OBI, an Essen based tour operator after the Olympics. The fate of these vehicles was to be commandeered for use as military transport at the onset of the Second World War.
Autocult act as distributors for this range of vehicles.
#60012 Dodge Charger III
This was a concept car widely shown in the late 1960s but never turned into a road going car. Indeed the shape seems to owe much to the Chevrolet Corvette. The prototype was created for the US national auto show circuit in 1968 and was designed by the staff at Chrysler’s advanced styling studios. The construction of the show car was sub-contracted to the Detroit based fabrication team of Vince Gardner and Paul Shedlik. An automotive prodigy, Gardner was barely out of his teens when he helped Gordon Buehrig craft the original clay model for the Cord 810, while his own designs included the Ford Vega sports car and the Studebaker Gardner Special. The Charger III was one of many projects Gardner and Shedlik tackled for the bigger car makers. The two-man team personally crafted the fibreglass body shell for the Chrysler show car, which was 74 inches wide, only 42 inches tall, and had a 100-inch wheelbase.
The prototype had no engine or drivetrain installed. However, the automaker’s press materials suggested that a Dodge 426 Street Hemi could be installed under the low-profile hood. As there was no engine fitted the power required to operate the Charger III’s numerous display functions, including the clamshell-style cockpit canopy, was actually provided by a 120-volt electrical cable. Photos indicate that the Charger III had at least two different paint finishes: the gold featured at the Chicago Auto Show, and the brilliant Candy Apple Red as shown on the Avenue 43 model.
Like so many show cars it is thought the original was broken up at some point though some more fibreglass bodies found their way into the world of drag racing so the shape lived on.
#60013 Porsche 645 Spyder “Mickymaus”
Developed from the 550 A and 1500 RS Porsche this 1956 prototype nicknamed “Mickey Mouse” had a wheelbase of 2,000 mm and a reduced track width. This change allowed a smaller front profile and higher top speed. The central tail section was raised to house a cooling fan as well as housing two rear facing openings for the air intakes for carburettor and cooling system. The vehicle was powered by an air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine with four camshafts (two on each side), which were powered by vertical shafts. It had dual ignition with two separate ignition manifolds, two ignition coils and two twin choke Weber 40 DCM carbs.
At a race on the AVUS course on September 16, 1956, Richard von Frankenberg had an accident with the Mickey Mouse. The car crashed over the north curve’s steep slope into the paddock, about fifteen feet below, and burned; Frankenberg, who had been thrown out, remained almost unhurt. The 645 project ceased and work was devoted to the Porsche 718 1500 RSK Spyder which appeared in the middle of 1957.
Matrix new Announcement
This Matrix model is resin cast in China for the Netherlands to 1:43 scale.
MX20301-183 Cadillac Superior Funeral car 1970
Matrix has just announced a ‘surprise model’ which had not been previously announced but which will ship soon. This Cadillac Funeral Car looks to be a nice model of a classic Cadillac.
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