By Fabrizio Panico
All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
Issues 28 to 30
Three more buses, each one from a manufacturer already previously met in this listing: Fiat, General Motors and Berliet, all 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. 28 (not yet issued in the French collection) Fiat 411/1 Cansa ATM 1962 – A typically urban bus, produced by the Italian Fiat Veicoli Industriali (see part 8 no. 23) from 1957 to 1970, replacing the 680RN. Adopted for mass transport in all large cities of Italy, it had a big commercial success : over 1,500 were produced and their legendary strength and reliability extended the working life until well after 1990.
The 411 represented a real revolution in public transport : despite having a front engine (and a large bonnet next to the driver) it had a very low floor, and it was the first to offer power steering and a semi-automatic gearbox. The usual body was by CaNSA (Carrozzerie Novaresi Società Anonima), an ex-aeronautical company, from 1936 in the Fiat Group, based in Cameri, near Novara, founded in 1913 as “Società Anonima Gabardinei” by Giuseppe Gabardinei, to promote and develop aeronautical activities (also a flight school), later CANSA (acronym for “Costruzioni Aeronautiche Novaresi Società Anonima“). In 1946 it started to produce coach bodies (becoming CaNSA or Cansa) as the official bodywork of the Fiat buses. In the late 1960s, the denomination Cansa was abandoned in favour of Fiat Cameri‘s bodywork. The 411 was also available with bodies by specialised bodybuilders like Menarini, Macchi, Piaggio, Portesi, Pistoiesi, Breda F.C., etc.
The first version had the Fiat 203 engine of 10.7 litres developing 150 hp (a diesel straight six, the same unit was also used in the 682 truck), in 1960 the second series, renamed Fiat 411/1, benefited from the Fiat engine 203A/61 of 11.5 litres developing 177 hp. At the same time there were some changes to the body, like the use of a three door front exit. On the same chassis Fiat produced the 2411, the most widely distributed trolleybus in Italy.
The scale model is a faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the ATM collection (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi). It has a plastic body and metal baseplate which has basic details of the chassis.
The livery and the registration plate are correct for the period. Nice doors and wheels and well modelled windows are evident. Small details like the roof exiting engine exhaust are captured as well. Two rear mirrors, front lights and bumpers are all made as separate parts. A scale model which represents this urban bus, so common everywhere in Italy, very well.
No. 29 (no. 22 in the French collection) General Motors TDH-3610 1955 – GMC (General Motors Truck Company) is a division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors, its production focuses nowadays on trucks and utility vehicles.
General Motors was founded by William C. Durant in 1908, as a holding company for Buick. In 1909 GM purchased the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, then the Reliance Motor Car Company was also purchased by GM, merged in 1911 with Rapid, and in 1912 the marque “GMC Truck” first appeared at the New York International Auto Show. In 1925 GM purchased a controlling interest in Yellow Coach, a bus manufacturer founded in 1923 by John D. Hertz as a subsidiary of his Yellow Cab Company. After purchasing the remaining portion in 1943 and merging it into their GM Truck Division, GM renamed it GM Truck and Coach Division. Although GM continued with the Yellow Coach product line, the Yellow Coach badge gave way to the GM Coach or just GM nameplate in 1944, while GMC badges did not appear until 1968. GM withdrew from the bus and coach market because of increased competition in the late 1970s and 1980s.
The GM “Old-look” transit bus was introduced in 1940 by Yellow Coach beginning with the production of the model TG-3201 (Transit Gasoline – 32 seats, 1st series). Production of most “Old-look” models was stopped upon the release of the GM New-Look bus in 1959, however some shorter models continued to be built until 1969. About 38,000 “Old-look” buses were built during the 29-year production run, their name is an unofficial term applied after the release of the GM New-Look, this time an official term used by GM to describe their new line of buses.
The GM “Old-look” bus was somewhat streamlined in appearance, had small windows (often with additional windows below the roof), and was built using a monocoque bodywork with steel frame covered with riveted sheet metal panels, rather than the old body-on-frame design. Most “Old-look” buses were powered by the Detroit Diesel 6-71 inline six-cylinder diesel engine, while the shorter models were powered by the four-cylinder version of the same diesel engine, but it was possible to choose a gasoline engine. Manual and automatic transmissions were available, while in 1940 and 1942 a few buses were built with electric propulsion systems instead of a transmission. It was available in several lengths and widths according to local legislations.
In 1946 GM began offering its Thermo-matic heating and ventilation system, in 1953 air-ride suspension became standard on all but the smallest model buses, and in 1958 air conditioning was added as an available option. Following WW2 an agreement was reached to build GM’s model TDH-3610 under license in Soviet Union (but with diesel-electric propulsion, similar to that used for the TDE-40xx models), and production was assigned to ZiS (Zavod imeni Stalina) as model number 154 (we’ll see it later on, as no. 37 in this series). The ZiS-154 at first used a Yaroslavl YAZ-204 diesel, but supply problems forced a switch to the Detroit Diesel 6-71, also built under license. Problems with the reliability of the drive-train components resulted in the ZiS-154 being discontinued after only four years of production and 1,165 units.
The scale model represents a famous bus : the “Rosa Parks” bus, a TDH-3610 (Transit bus Diesel with automatic transmission – 40 seats, 10th series) of the Montgomery (Alabama) City Lines.
The legal autonomy granted to the southern states after the Secession War led to a series of laws aimed at the reduction of the civil rights of the people of colour. The segregation imposed in private and public places was intended to prevent the creation of a multiracial society. In 1955 a woman, Rosa Parks, refused to surrender her place on the bus to a white. The arrest and subsequent condemnation pushed the then unknown Martin Luther King Jr to launch a protest campaign and boycott against Montgomery bus companies, lasting more than a year. The parallel domestic and international reactions resulted in a first reduction in segregation in 1956, but its abolition took place only in 1964.
The model is quite heavy as it has a metal body and a plastic baseplate. The baseplate is not very detailed and the rear exhaust is only highlighted by silver paint. The baseplate shows the model as “TDH 3714”, which is quite strange. Front and rear bumpers are chromed and separate parts like front and rear lights, front grilles and wipers are used. Well detailed wheels are fitted but only one rear view mirror and a rather basic interior. A nice “GM coach” badge is fitted. The adverts are interesting period items: Hanna Paints at the rear, and the side ones say “Why fight traffic ? Go by bus” and that was in 1955! There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
No. 30 (no. 23 in the French collection) Berliet PHL 10 Grand Raid 1966 – We have already seen the Berliet history and its Cruisair range (see part 8, no. 22), 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 PLR8, a very powerful bus, but already old-fashioned. Then in 1956 it launched the PLH, with innovative styling and a beam frame with a base of square section steel tubes and a round tubular body skeleton. The squared body allowed maximum interior space, large windows, a light and practical driving position, and excellent soundproofing. The engine, an in-line five cylinder diesel with 150 CV, was placed horizontally amidship on the right side. To follow the evolving legislation Berliet presented in 1959 an evolution of the PLH, the PHN or “Randonnèe” with an extended wheelbase and an optimised structure, while the old PLH was renamed PHC or “Escapade”. The mechanical components were maintained, with the option of a 6 cylinder engine with 180 CV. The PHN underwent an endurance test from November 1960 to March 1961 at the Autodrome of Miramas : 200 000 km were travelled in 97 days with an 85.86 km/h average. From 1960 the Randonnèe was updated stylistically, and in 1964 to the PH range was added the PHL or “Grand Raid”, an extended version, derived from the PH100, an urban bus for mass transport. During the fifties Berliet was highly successful, but in the sixties the competition with Saviem, Magirus, Mercedes, Scania, Volvo and Fiat was very tough : it was necessary to innovate continuously, but once again resources were lacking and in 1967 Berliet was acquired by Citroen. Between the PLH and PH range, more than 6,000 units were produced.
The scale model has the usual plastic body and metal baseplate, with basic details of the chassis.
Quite a bright livery and superb visibility thanks to the large windows, which are nicely black framed.
The registration plate is from the department of the Alps of Haute-Provence, while Reillanne is a small town in the Luberon regional natural park.
Nice wheels and a well detailed interior are fitted. The seating features nice split individual coach seats with high backrests. The driver’s cab is well detailed. As usual many separate parts are fitted: front and rear chromed bumpers, lights, wipers and front grille. A nice model. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
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