Category Archives: Skoda

Abrex Skoda 136 Rapid

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of the Author unless otherwise acknowledged.

Abrex are a Czech firm who have models diecast in China to 1:43 scale.  Their models have previously been cast by Hongwell and the latest model looks like a Hongwell production as well. The focus of the Abrex range in recent years has been Skoda cars and in particular the later releases produced after they were taken over by Volkswagen. But in between the new cars they have produced models of the older cars produced when they were behind the iron curtain.

In recent times Abrex output had slowed down and the retail model shop associated with them in Prague stopped trading.  Just a few months before that they had announced an intention to make the 136 Rapid but when contacted on Facebook they said that it was unlikely to be released. Turn the clock forward a couple of years and to my surprise an Italian model shop trading on eBay advertised Abrex Skoda 136 Rapid models in various colours and in right and left hand drive. Since then I have also seen the models listed by UK importers.

Skoda publicity shot as shown on AROnline..co.uk

So why all the interest? I owned two Skoda Estelles, a 120 and a 130. I found them comfortable, quick enough to keep up and reliable. The jokes about Skodas were commonplace, but Skoda owners had the last laugh as the contemporary UK built cars were not noted for reliability or build quality but cost a lot more. What is more Skodas were fun to drive once you got used to the tail heavy handling and light steering. The interior plastics were crude but they stood up to kids and life in general. I always hankered after a 136 Rapid after the famous Autocar review proclaiming it to be “As Much Fun as a 911” , see cover reproduced below. But two door cars and young children did not mix so I never had the chance to buy one.

Autocar front cover image as shown on AROnline.co.uk

 

So to the Abrex model. This captures the lines of the original vehicles very well. To my eyes the 136 was quite a balanced design and the model catches the fact that the car has a complex series of curved surfaces – no box shapes here.

The black paint is not as even as it could be, though it appears to have a clear acrylic coat over the top to give it a nice shine. This is quite appropriate as Skoda black paint often showed an ‘orange peel’ texture.

The wheels are not bad replicas of the original ones which were British. The empty containers going back to Skoda from the UK were full of Goodyear tyres, UK sourced sun roof mechanisms, and UK sourced alloy wheels. In return most cars sold in the UK were fitted with those items which added to the showroom appeal.

The rear of the car with the badging and large rear lights as well as the exhaust pipe and the matt bumpers is all very well modelled. Underneath the base plate has been given some detail and the spare wheel which sat at the front under the luggage space has also been modelled in showing above the front cross member.

Inside the car is all black but that is exactly what the real one was often like. The door cards and dashboard are neatly moulded with quite a bit of detail. The instruments are also moulded in though none are highlighted in any way. The steering wheel looks accurate too.

There are a few minor issues with the car in RHD form. Firstly, the sunroof should have been scribed on this car as to my memory this model was always fitted with a sun roof. Secondly, the Czech number plates need swapping for UK ones. something I may do later.

All in all though a good model of a largely forgotten car of which only a handful remain in the UK, and for me a reminder of reading that particular edition of Autocar and wishing I could own the real thing.


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News from the Continent July 2018 – Herpa

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

All text and photographs are by, and copyright of, the Author.

This article looks at a selection of the models released during the second quarter of 2018 and the re-issue of an older moulding too. All the Herpa models shown in this article are moulded in plastic in Europe for Herpa of Germany to 1:87 scale.

 

028820 Skoda 110L 4-door saloon 1969-1976

The rear mounted engine of 1108 cc gave a top speed of 138 km/h.

 

308601 Scania CS HD heavy-duty four axle articulated tractor unit – red

 

308816 Scania CR 20 HD 6×2 articulated tractor unit – light beige

 

746298 Volkswagen T6 bus “Feldjäger” – From the Military Range

Liveried for the military police of the German Army. The body is moulded in white and then over printed in olive and yellow.

 

028998/038997 Opel Senator saloon 1978-1982

This model is released in white or gold metallic as shown here.

This model was originally issued by Herpa in 1979. Now they have released it again as a special edition using today’s techniques to include improved wheel rims and a higher level of printed details.

 

308922 MAN TGX XLX Euro 6c Tandem trailer drawbar “Forwarder Wandt”

Tandem trailer trucks are operated on a daily basis by the Brunswick-based forwarder Wandt. Herpa  releases the MAN TGX XLX with replaceable bodies in the forwarder´s familiar design.


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Hachette Italy World Buses Part 16

By Fabrizio Panico

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Nos. 46  to 48

This time we visit fabulous India with a Tata bus, France again with another Berliet and step behind the Iron Curtain with a postwar Skoda. All of them are from the Italian Hachette partwork ‘Autobus dal mondo’, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French partwork ‘Autobus et autocars du monde’, produced in Bangladesh by Ixo. At the time of writing Italian Hachette has announced that the partwork will be extended to eighty models (the French one is marching towards 120), but the first two models (nos. 61 and 62) are nothing more than new liveries on old castings: not a good start, let’s hope we see something new.

No. 46 (no. 45 in the French collection) Tata LPO 1512 1990 – The origins of Tata can be traced to a company founded in 1868 by Jamshedji Tata : today Tata Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate holding company, headquartered in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), and owned by Tata Sons, a registered charity. One of its members is Tata Motors Limited (formerly TELCO, short for Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company) a multinational automotive manufacturing company producing passenger cars, trucks, vans, coaches, buses, sports cars, construction equipment and military vehicles,. The group includes Jaguar Land Rover, with manufacturing and assembly plants in India, as well as in Argentina, South Africa, Great Britain and Thailand.

Founded in 1945 to produce locomotives, the company manufactured its first commercial vehicle in 1954 in a collaboration with Daimler-Benz AG (which ended in 1969): the chassis was a copy of the Mercedes L 3500, and from it was derived a whole series of bus and truck chassis, like the Tata 1210 and then the 1510, and its more modern variant the 1512. The Tata 1510/1512 was the largest selling bus in India and neighbouring countries, combining good features and low ownership cost. Built on a sturdy frame with parallel side members, suited to the difficult local conditions, and equipped from 1993 with a Cummins straight six diesel engine (previously with a Tata-Mercedes Benz 697 engine), the 1512 was usually bodied by contracted suppliers to customer requirements. Alas in later years its reliability was often hindered by poor maintenance causing frequent accidents, notwithstanding a legal maximum speed of 40 km/h.

The scale model represents a 1990 large capacity long distance bus where, lacking any air conditioning, the side doors (obviously on the left side) have been deleted, at the expense of safety. There is the usual combination of a plastic body and a metal baseplate, which is well detailed. It is painted in a bright livery in white, yellow and light green. On the sides there is the “Stage Carriage” writing, meaning it is a vehicle stopping at designated places, plus others printed in Indian characters, which the Author cannot decipher. The registration plate is one from the Delhi Regional Transport Office, correctly printed in black over yellow, as required for a public use. The prefix DL-1P is specifically allocated to Delhi commercial buses.

The angular shape of the bus is well reproduced, with large windows and many separate plastic parts, like lights, bumpers, mirrors and wipers, plus a chromed side exhaust. Very nice wheels and driver’s ‘cab’ area. The seats are only basic. Note the shadows on the windows representing the safety bars on their lower side. No apparent differences to the French edition. A nice model of an almost unknown bus, at least in Europe.


 

No. 47 (no. 36 in the French collection) Berliet PLR 10 1955 – We have already seen the Berliet history and its Crusair (see part 8, no. 22), PHL 10 (see part 10, no. 30) and PR100 ranges (Jelcz version, see part 14, no. 40) and how after the Second World War only commercial vehicle production was resumed, but that Chausson, Isobloc and Renault buses were much more innovative. In 1951 Berliet launched the PLR 8, a very powerful bus, but old fashioned even before it was launched: its heavy welded box frame, its dual rear wheels and horizontal engine meant high costs, both to buy, to use and to maintain. The PLR 8, an urban bus, was equipped with a 125 CV five cylinders MDUH diesel engine, while the PLR 10, an intercity bus, had a 150 CV six cylinders MDZH diesel, later used also on the urban version of the PLR 10. In 1958 a new generation of very low consumption engines was developed thanks to the MAN injection system, but this evolution did not save the model from its fate, as it was not the commercial success the new engine deserved.

With the cooperation of Vétra for the electric systems, Berliet produced a trolleybus version of the PLR 10, named ELR, a variant appreciated in Nice and Marseille.

The scale model represents an urban version (the correct name should be PLR 10 U) of the Monegasque CAM (Compagnie des Autobus de Monaco) with only 20 seated places and large central and rear platform for 70 standing places. The model is in a very elegant white livery with the coat of arms of the Principality on the roof. There is the usual plastic body with metal baseplate, and the exhaust is enhanced in silver.

The red circle on the front means that the vehicle runs a regular service, but it is in contrast with the “Special” in the destination board. The registration plate is not correct for the year, it should be white on blue, the blue on white was released only from 1978. Very likely it is a copy of a preserved and re-registered bus.

A nice front grille is provided, suitably pierced, and good wheels. A well reproduced driver’s cockpit is present as well as a basic interior. Usual added parts like lights, bumpers, mirrors and wipers are fitted. No apparent differences to the French edition. A good choice, fifties buses are the most loved.


 

No. 48 (no. 37 in the French collection) Skoda 706 RO 1947 – In 1859, Count Wallenstein-Vartenberk, owner of an already established foundry and engineering work, set up a branch in Pilsen, then in the Kingdom of Bohemia, part of the Austrian Empire. In 1869, the plant was taken over by Emil Škoda, who soon expanded the firm, and in the 1880s founded what was then a very modern steelwork, which was a leader in arms manufacturing. Exports included heavy castings, such as parts for the Niagara Falls power plant and for the Suez Canal sluices. In 1924, Škoda Works acquired the Laurin-Klement car manufacturer, later known as Škoda Auto.

The companies were separated after 1945, when the whole Czechoslovak economy came under government control : the car works in Mladá Boleslav became AZNP (Automobilové závody národní podnik or National Automobile Manufacturing Industry) today’s Škoda Auto, while the truck plant became part of a conglomerate of nine truck producers headquartered in Liberec as LIAZ (Liberecké automobilové závody), although the trucks and buses were still marketed as Škodas. Later, Škoda became well known in the USSR and other countries as a trolleybus manufacturer, but when in late 1989 the company was privatised very soon mismanagement, and the loss of guaranteed access to the East-European market, led to a collapse. In 1991 the Czech government sought a foreign partner for the passenger car works, choosing Volkswagen with a 30% initial stake, rising to 100% ownership by 1999.

The Škoda 706 RO is an urban bus produced from 1947 on the frame of the 706 R truck, and bodied by Sodomka (from 1948 named Karosa). In 1896 Josef Sodomka founded a manufacturing plant for coaches, and producing automobile bodywork of its own design from 1925, designed to be mounted on automobile chassis produced by Praga. In 1948, the company was nationalised and incorporated into a ‘National Enterprise’, which was then given the name Karosa (acronym for “Factory for carriages, cars, rotors, machine tools, cutting machines and buses”). Karosa become the sole manufacturer of buses in Czechoslovakia, but in 1989, after the fall of the communist regime, Karosa had to reduce its production. Help came from Renault, Karosa later becoming part of Irisbus and then of Iveco Bus. At the time the RO was a modern high capacity bus and was exported to many countries within the communist block, China included. The engine, a Skoda straight six diesel engine with 145 CV, was placed in front next to driver, and the rear axle was propelled by a long driveshaft. The body presented a very long rear overhang. Its heir, the RTO (quite similar, but much more comfortable with a lowered frame), was presented in 1958 and continued serial production until 1972, while it was produced under licence until 1977 by Jelcz (see part 14, no. 40) in Poland.

The scale model represents quite accurately a bus exported to China, with a red and white livery, and a dark grey roof. The Author apologises but he is unable to translate the Chinese characters. At the time China encouraged the workforce to live close to work to limit need for transport to work. Nowadays their cities are blocked by traffic like ours, and worse.

The bus has the usual form of construction with a plastic body and metal baseplate, which is well detailed. A side exhaust is added, as are front and rear tow hooks. Very nice doors and the wheels are fitted. Among the added plastic parts are the usual lights, bumpers, mirrors (five of them) and wipers. On the roof a triangle is fitted, very likely to be used to indicate the presence of a trailer. Another nice reproduction of a bus almost unknown in Western Europe.


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Anonymous Alloy models from China

By Maz Woolley

 

Every now and again eBay throws up some curiosities as we have seen with the recent articles on GFCC Jaguar and Pontiac models in MAR Online. Indeed GFCC has come up with another US model recently, a Studebaker Speedster Coupé , which the Author has ordered and will review when it arrives. A photograph from the eBay listing is shown below.

 

At the moment there are a number of sellers of models described as “alloy classic models” which do not appear to have originated from Part Works or other known model ranges . Four seem to be available and photographs from eBay listings are shown below.

 

Austin Seven


Skoda Hispano


 

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost


 

Ford Model T


 

All the models appeared to be finished in a “Yesteryear” style with no window glazing but as the models were being offered very cheaply with no postage charges I decided to buy the Austin Seven to see what it was like.

The model is marked C.I.L. on the base but I seem to be unable to find any details of this company on the web. If readers have any details please let me know. As I expected the model is like a later “Model of Yesteryear“. It has a plastic roof but diecast body.

The wheels are one piece plastic affairs but as can be seen they have excellent spokes and rims and if they had been fitted with rubber tyres I would rate them as better than the wheels on Oxford’s equivalent model. The front lights are picked out but the rear ones though moulded in are not printed.

The body casting has been neatly detailed with handles, flaps and coachwork lines but none are printed. Underneath the chassis is made in plastic in some detail.  All in all this is quite a nice basic model but the one thing that lets it down is the paintwork this is far from smooth and the model really would benefit from taking the model apart and treating it like a kit.


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Auto Cult final releases of 2017

By Maz Woolley

All photographs provided by, and copyright of, Auto Cult.

Auto Cult Set of the Year

Auto Cult have made their final release for 2017.  This is their set of the year which features a book and a 1:43 scale model of a Porsche-Auto Union type 52 Sportlimousine. The book is also available as a separate item. The set is made in limited numbers.

Two versions of the book are available, one written in English and the other German. It is 184 pages long and looks at the stories of the often rare and strange vehicles modelled by Auto Cult in 2017. It features pictures of both the models and the real vehicles.

This design for a super car was penned in the offices of  Ferdinand Porsche but the exact details have been lost in history.  Based on the Typ 22 – a racing car concept, commissioned by the company Wanderer but never built – they created a design for a super car that was allocated Typ 52 according to the in-house numbering sequence. Josef Kales was responsible for the engine and Erwin Komenda drew the body. Both created an ambitious design  with a sixteen-cylinder V-engine of 4.4 litres with forced induction from a Roots-type supercharger and an estimated output of over 200 hp.

The sketched blueprints showed a low car body with a central driving position with passenger seats on either side offset to the rear. The designers were apparently divided on whether to built in a rear bench seat or not, since the sketches of both layouts exist. The V-16 engine was a mid-engined arrangement as the gearbox needed to be accommodated ahead of the rear axle.

 

The rear end of the car body with its great number of air outlets harmoniously curved around the engine. The front of the car in the design sketches had a large upright radiator grille, which probably carried the airstream via inner ducts to the engine. Externally fitted mudguards that followed the general silhouette of the car completed the harmonious overall look.

Unfortunately the super car never progressed beyond the design stage. Why there was not even a prototype built remains unclear.

Dubonnet Dolphin

Also released this month is the Dubonnet Dolphin to 1:18 scale. This was developed in France in the early 1930s by André Dubonnet and called the Dolphin to go with its aerodynamic shape.

Dubonnet had been a pilot during the First World War and then a racing driver in Bugatti and Sunbeam cars and dreamt of creating a streamlined car for mass production With the Engineer Chedru, he  created a car body powered by a 3.6 litre Ford V8 engine. The tear drop shape was rounded and an unconventional solution had to be found for the doors. At the front only the right half next to the steering wheel could be opened and two further doors were fitted further back on both sides which also provided access to the front area.

The engine was positioned directly behind the back seat and at the  rear axle point Dubonnet was provided an upright tail unit influenced by aircraft to stabilise the car at high speed. So that the sophisticated aerodynamics would not be marred by external influences Dubonnet provided complete cladding for all four wheels.  In the case of the steerable front wheels the cladding was fixed directly onto the axle and followed the steering movement.

 

Compared to a conventional Ford car the performance was considerably better, with the prototype reaching a maximum speed of 173 km/h (108 mph), when the standard Ford was only reached 131 km/h (82 mph). But this performance failed to convince any company to put the car into mass-production so André Dubonnet moved on to other projects and the car was lost to history.

For collectors of larger scale models Auto Cult has announced their next 1:18 scale model which is to be a Skoda 935 which will be released in 2018.


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