By Fabrizio Panico
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Parts 79 and 80
Here is the 27th and last 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 two more French buses, a Berliet and a Chausson, but on the other hand we must remember that it is basically a collection of French origins. As an add-on we’ll also see a Fiat 418 Cameri, a model Italian Hachette offered only to the subscribers to the whole Italian collection, but which was available as a standard issue in the French collection.
No. 79 (no. 102 in the French collection) Berliet PCS 10 RATP 1960 – We have already seen the Berliet Crusair 3 (see part 8, no. 22), the PHL 10 (see part 10, no. 30), the PR100 range (Jelcz version, see part 14, no. 40), the PLR 10 (see part sixteen, no. 47), the original 1969 Crusair (see part twenty-one, no. 62) and the 1956 PLR 8 MU (see part twenty-three, no. 69). Berliet is one of the oldest automobile manufacturer, part of Citroën from 1967, then acquired by Renault in 1974 and merged with Saviem into the new RVI in 1978. Berliet produced many different vehicles, but after the Second World War only commercial vehicle production was resumed, and Berliet had to face strong competition from Chausson and Renault. Indeed Berliet had no experience outside the field of heavy commercial vehicles, and choose then to buy Rochet-Schneider for its capacity and it’s ‘know-how’. In 1951 it launched the PLR 8, a very powerful bus, but already dated. It was only in 1955 with the PCP 10 that Berliet was able to enter the profitable Parisian transport fleet, until then dominated by Renault. After the Second World War the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) had expanded its suppliers list, and from 1950 started to use the Somua OP5 (see part seven, no. 20), an innovative bus with an almost all-steel closed body by Million-Guiet-Tubauto (MGT), which was more comfortable for driver and passengers. A very reliable bus, the OP5 modernised the Parisian fleet, slowly replacing the old open platform buses, which had been a real Parisian trademark. In 1955 the RATP choose to try the Berliet PCP10, using the same body of the OP5-3 by MGT (only the front grille was different), and ordered 100 buses, with a diesel Berliet six-in-line engine developing 145 CV placed longitudinally in the front of the chassis, and fitted with a Wilson pre-selector gearbox. In 1960 a further 50 buses were supplied by Berliet, named PCS10 and using a Somua chassis, easily identified by a more prominent front grille, a reduced front overhang and some minor details. More liked than the Somua, the Berliets were phased out in 1972.
The scale model sports the classic dark green and cream livery of the RATP. It is quite a large model with a plastic body, a metal chassis and the usual plastic added parts. Underside details are present, the exhaust is silver painted and there is a rear tow hitch. On both sides there are “Conord” ads, while in the rear there is a “Chantelle” one, all very agreeable.
The destination plate reads “#73 – Puteaux – Louis Blanc”, the route starting at the Paris Hotel de Ville and ending at Puteaux, a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, located in the heart of the Hauts-de-Seine department. It is host to La Défense, Paris’ business district with the tallest buildings in the metropolitan area. There isn’t a standard registration plate, because until March 2003 RATP buses used special registration plates with their own serial number. The interior is fairly detailed and it is fitted with nice four-leaf doors and large windows. No apparent differences to the French edition exist. Indeed another beautiful model, very likely a smart re-use of a previous mould (no. 20, Somua OP5).
No. 80 (no. 103 in the French collection) Saviem E7 1970 – We have already seen the 1965 Saviem SC10 U (see part thirteen, no. 39) and the 1960 SC1 (see part twenty-four, no. 71), and how at the end of 1955 Renault, facing strong competition from Berliet and lacking factory capacity decided to unify its forces with Somua and Latil creating LRS Saviem (Latil-Renault-Somua Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d’Equipments Mécaniques), later incorporating Isobloc and Chausson. But during the 1960s the competition was changing, and the ‘battlefield’ was now the whole of Europe. The innovative products from Setra and Van Hool were international successes and both Berliet and Saviem soon realised the urgent need for a rear engined vehicle, with sufficient power, large luggage spaces beneath the floor, large windows and, very important, a higher level of passenger comfort. Berliet’s prompt answer was the Crusair range (see part eight, no. 22, and part twenty-one, no. 62), but Saviem was seriously disadvantaged : it was lacking the ‘know-how’ (Isoblocs were its last rear engined buses), had to build a new assembly line and was forced to launch the new bus if possible at the same time as Berliet. The result was the E7, presented in May 1969, a bus with a modern angular shape, a modular body for different versions, large windows and symmetrical front and rear sides, excellent comfort, a powerful longitudinal rear engine by MAN, but …. the vehicle suffered from the hasty development. Problems quickly appeared in service: with the electrical system, the heating system, and even the body structure itself. Disappointed users’ complaints soon became public and, despite making changes to resolve the problems, market confidence evaporated. Less than 3,500 units were produced, with many exported to Africa.
The quite large scale model shows faithfully the E7L‘s angular shape. As usual there is a plastic body and metal chassis, and it is finished in a cream and gold livery. The interior is basic though there is a nicely detailed driver’s cockpit. There are very detailed side windows and roof lights. Many separate small plastic parts are used, and excellent decoration, even the small details between the side windows are captured.
However, the Saviem logo is difficult to read (silver print on gold paint). It is a replica of a bus of the Société des Transports Allauzen, based in Joyeuse, a commune in the Ardèche department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southern France. Voyages Sotra are now part of Voyages Ginhoux, a family business founded in 1830 to transport goods and passengers in the Ardèche region. It is fitted with a correct “07” registration plate. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. It is a worthy reproduction of an “unlucky” bus.
Unnumbered (no. 53 in the French collection) Fiat 418 AC Cameri 1972 – As already stated in part five, Italian Hachette offered its subscribers a model of a Fiat 418, a 1972 Cameri from the AMT of Genova, (no. 53 in the French collection). I did not qualify to receive one as I prefer to buy collections at a news stand in order to avoid delays, or problem with the mail. Luckily it was quite easy to find the 418 Cameri on eBay to complete the collection.
We have already met the Fiat products and in particular the 418 (see part five, no. 13), a typical urban bus adopted in all the large cities of Italy to replace the ageing 409 and 410. It was of the same general design, a separate chassis fitted with a longitudinal engine placed centrally under the floor. The usual body was by Cameri, already absorbed into Fiat Group in 1936 and operating under the CANSA name (see part 10, no. 28), but the chassis was also made available to outside specialised bodywork manufacturers like Portesi, Pistoiesi, Breda, Dalla Via, Padane and Menarini. The 418 was equipped with the Fiat 8200.12 diesel engine, a flat straight six, of 9,819CC developing 143 kw of power. Some versions had an automatic gearbox, but a manual gearbox was also available.
The scale model, based on a preserved vehicle, has a plastic body and a metal baseplate with little detail. It is finished in an orange and grey livery, typical of Genoa (Genova) in the North of Italy, one of the most important ports on the Mediterranean. The shape is well reproduced, with nice details, but inside the seats are poorly coloured (it could be specific to this example). It has very nice front and rear ends, and the rear lights are excellent.
The destination plate reads “Brignole – San Nicolò”, where Brignole is the main railway station and San Nicolò is a village belonging to the municipality of Genova, on its west side. A correct registration plate is featured. A good choice, a bus warmly remembered.
The collection has now ended and it is time to draw some conclusions. The choice of subjects was quite interesting and rightly included all the Italian buses from the French collection and a selection of all the others. Though it must be said that after the decision to extend the partwork from sixty to eighty models, it then copied the French one, offering the same models issued in France a couple of weeks later. It is very likely that Italian collectors might have preferred some of the previous models from the larger French collection whichdid not appeared in the first 60 of the Italian collection, like the Hispano Suiza or the Floirat.
It is possible to see the whole French collection on the web on a very interesting site. All the models have been of really high quality and have been excellent value for money. Packaging was quite basic, but was effective at avoiding any damage, but due to the wildly different sizes and shapes no clear plastic box was provided. If the collection had one problem it is the sheer size of the collection’s models. You need a very large space to display or even just to store them! A problem well known to a lot of collectors. Happy collecting!
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page, or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.