By Fabrizio Panico
All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Another lovely triplet of models from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French series “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo. This time a real icon from Renault, an ex-pat from Leyland and an almost unknown Belgian one.
No. 34 (no. 29 in the French collection) Renault TN6-C2 1934 – We have already met Renault and its AGP Saharien (see seventh part, no. 19), but the TN is really a must for everyone, usually identified with Paris and seen in every black and white French movie. From 1931 Renault delivered its new TN chassis’s to many French towns, at first with an on-line four cylinders front engine (TN4), and with a six cylinders from 1932 (TN6A).
The Parisian buses were bodied by the STCRP (Société des Transport en Commun de la Région Parisienne), using aluminium sheets over a wood frame, with an open rear platform for the town, and a closed body for the suburbs (nicknamed “hen cage”). Much more comfortable than the previous Schneider or Renault, they were the first to use pneumatic tyres, with double wheels at the rear axle. But the engine was a bit too fragile, and it was soon replaced by a new six-in-line, powered by a ternary fuel made of a mixture of one-third of alcohol, 1/3 benzol and 1/3 petrol (TN6-C). The last version is the TN6-C2, but the difference with the first generation is above all aesthetic, with “artillery” wheels with star branches and an enlarged windscreen. They were retired in 1969, after a very long service.
The scale model is the faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the “AMTUIR” collection (Association du Musée des Transports Urbains, Interurbains et Ruraux), its museum is now located in Chelles, Seine-et-Marne, part of the Parisian Region (see www.amtuir.org).
As usual there is a plastic multi-part body and a metal chassis. Classic green and cream livery is well reproduced with a nice advert for Canigou (pet foods). There is a basic interior with a very nice drivers cab. Many separate small parts are fitted. This is a a beautiful model rich in old-world charm, it is a pity that they used an unrealistic shiny metal support inside the rear platform. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
No. 35 (no. 30 in the French collection) Leyland Victory Mark II 1979 – Leyland Motors Ltd was a British vehicle manufacturer of trucks, buses and trolleybuses, with a long history dating back to 1896 and the foundation of the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland in North West England, They were renamed Leyland Motors in 1907 when they took over Coulthards of Preston. Between the Great War and the Second World War Leyland produced many different vehicles, from luxury touring cars to light utility cars like the Trojan. During the Second World War Leyland was involved in war production, building the Cromwell tank as well as medium/large trucks such as the Leyland Hippo and Retriever. After the war the Centurion tank (of Dinky fame) was made. Many trucks companies were incorporated in Leyland, like AEC, Albion, and Scammel. It diversified into car manufacturing with its acquisitions of Triumph (1960) and Rover (1967). In 1968 it merged with British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation, to become British Leyland after being nationalised in 1975, then simply BL, and in 1986 changed its name to Rover Group. Leyland Trucks depended on British sales as well as on its established export markets, mainly centred on commonwealth and ex-commonwealth markets.
In the early 1980s export sales were drying up in many places. The business was broken up and while Leyland Bus was bought by Volvo Buses in 1988, the original Leyland Trucks business eventually became a subsidiary of PACCAR. The Leyland name and logo continues as a recognised and respected marque across India, the wider subcontinent and parts of Africa in the form of Ashok Leyland. Leyland Motors established a number of milestones that set bus industry rends, like being one of the first manufacturers to design chassis for buses that were different from trucks, with a lower chassis level to help passengers to board, They created the Titan and Tiger ranges in 1927 that revolutionised bus design, and the trend-setting Atlantean rear-engined, double-decker.
The Leyland Victory Mark II was a front-engined, double-decker bus chassis manufactured between 1978 and 1981, developed from the Guy Victory J, and specifically designed to operate in Hong Kong mainly by Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) and China Motor Bus (CMB). The body was designed by Alexander, with a narrow entrance door and a central larger one, while the engine was a Gardner six cylinders with 180 CV. The Victory had a notorious reputation as an unsafe bus, mainly due to its soft suspension and high centre of gravity, which makes it prone to overturning. It was very popular in Hong Kong and also known as “chicken” because its soft suspensions made it behave like a chicken when accelerating or decelerating. Some of the ex-CMB Victory Mark IIs have been saved for preservation, mainly in Hong Kong, while one was donated to the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum.
The scale model is very likely based on one of the preserved buses, with a nice CMB livery in light blue and cream. It has a metal lower body, plastic upper body and chassis. A basic interior is fitted with a red ticket machine, and unfortunately the realism is affected by the use of un-prototypical shiny metal supports inside the body. Many small separate items are used, like lights, grille, mirrors and wipers. It has very nice wheels and side windows, though the windows are lacking horizontal bars, needed for safety reasons because of the sliding windows. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.
No. 36 (no. 28 in the French collection) Brossel A92 DARL 1962 – The Belgian automotive industry is often overlooked, but it is a thriving and dynamic one. In the past it could offer many revered brands, like Minerva, Imperia, Nagant, FN, Metallurgique, and Vivinus . After the Second World War domestic producers soon disappeared, but at the end of the century Belgium was one of the largest European automakers with an annual output up to 1.2 million from the assembly plants of brands like Opel, Ford, Audi, and Volvo. Its export-oriented auto industry has shrunk by half in recent years (to 500 thousand units) due to strong competition with imports from near and far Eastern producers, but today more than 90% of the vehicles produced in Belgium are still intended for export.
Brossel Frères SA was an old manufacturer of trucks, buses and autorails, based in Brussels from 1912 until its demise in 1968, when it was bought by British Leyland and its name disappeared the following year. At the end of the 1950s Brossel developed with the coachbuilder Jonckheere a high capacity urban bus powered by a rear mounted Leyland diesel engine. The French town of Lille, near the Belgian border, favoured them to replace its old Isobloc buses. Saviem (then the owner of Isobloc) wasn’t interested in the contract and Brossel won the order for more than 150 buses.
The A92 DARL (Diesel ARrière Lille) chassis was similar to the Leyland Panther one, with a considerable front level difference to reduce the height of the floor as much as possible. The double wheels on the rear axle offered excellent driving characteristics. Typical of the last DARL produced was the spherical cylindrical windshield, which reduced the light reflections experienced by the driver.
The scale model has the usual plastic body and metal chassis with the exhaust is enhanced in silver. The destination board reads “Valenciennes” a town about 50 km from Lille, while the cream and olive green livery is that of the CGIT (Compagnie Générale Industrielle de Transports) of Lille. The registration plate is from Lille. Usual separate parts like mirrors, lights and bumpers. Very nice wheels, windows and doors. The interior is typical of the French standards in the 1960s, the few seats arranged like a sitting room, with almost all the platform left to the standing people. A nice addition of a not so common bus, only seen in France and Belgium. No apparent differences to the French edition.
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