Tag Archives: Bus

Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 8

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

This months issues brings us one more French bus, an Italian one, and a German one, but “made in Spain” : as usual an interesting mix 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. 22 (no. 15 in the French collection) Berliet Crusair 3 1969 – Like Renault, Berliet is one of the oldest automobile manufacturer : founded in 1899 by Marius Berliet, it was in private ownership until 1967 when it became part of Citroën, then acquired by Renault in 1974 and merged with Saviem into the new Renault Trucks company (RVI) in 1978. Its name was phased out by 1980. Based in Vénissieux, near Lyon, Berliet contributed highly to the motorsport and economic development of France. After a first small vis-à-vis (1895) the first real Berliet was the 22 CV in 1902, and the success was at the door. Already in 1905 Berliet could sell to the American company ALCO (American Locomotive Corporation) the rights for the overseas production of models 22, 40 and 60 CV. That’s the origin of the locomotive in the Berliet logo. At the outbreak of the First World War its production was converted to military purposes. Its trucks were well thought of, and it assembled the famous Renault tanks.

After the war 4 and 6 cylinders models were produced, as wel as trucks and autocars. But the appearance of the Citroën Traction put rivals several years behind in technological terms. As money to innovate was lacking at Berliet an agreement with Peugeot allowed them to use the 402 body, a modern line to conceal their old fashioned technology. It was the last Berliet car, after World War Two only commercial vehicle production was resumed. During the fifties Berliet was highly successful, but in the sixties the competition with Magirus, Mercedes, Scania, Volvo and Fiat was very tough. It was necessary to innovate continuously. Once again resources were lacking and in 1967 it was acquired by Citroen. The Cruisair range, developed from 1966, offered innovative technical solutions and a new aesthetic.

The Cruisair 2 and 3 were 10 and 11 metres long, and were marketed in 1968 equipped with a 2-stroke V-6 GM Detroit Diesel engine, fragile if not correctly used, and, starting from 1970, with the V-8 Berliet, less powerful, but more reliable. Comfortable, reliable and profitable the Crusair was built on a straight frame with two U-rails, braced by central X-riveted cross-rails. Airlam suspensions, consisting of pneumatic cushions and leaf springs associated with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers, assured comfort and stability. But it was not free of defects, such as corrosion, poor driving position or poor technical solutions for belts and brakes. The Crusair was replaced by the PR14 in 1975, in effect an evolution of a 12 meters long Crusair 4 never produced, equipped with a turbo engine and sold, under the Renault brand, until 1989.

The scale model has a plastic body and a metal chassis with the rear exhaust highlighted by silver paint. The bright livery is yellow with a lower green stripe, a silver stripe below the windows and a black roof. The registration plate is from Toulouse in Haute Garonne, in the South of France. Nice modelling of the engine ventilation grilles and the front itself as well as the driver’s “cab”. The front and rear bumper separate fixings like the wipers. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. This is a nice model of a bus that boldly showed the image of the French coach in the last twenty years of the twentieth century.


No. 23 (no. 67 in the French collection) FIAT 309/1 SDM Menarini 1966 – Fiat is another of the oldest automobile manufacturers. Founded in 1899 its first truck was the 24 HP in 1903. Like many other companies Fiat commercial vehicles had a strong growth during the war years, starting in 1911 with the Libyan war (type 15 and then type 18). In 1925 Fiat bought SPA (Società Piemontese Automobili) and in 1929 created Fiat Veicoli Industriali, a consortium grouping Fiat V.I., SPA and Scat-Ceirano that in 1933 integrated OM (Officine Meccaniche ex Züst). In 1966 Fiat V.I. absorbed its French subsidiary UNIC (bought in 1949 by Fiat-Simca), in 1966 Lancia Industrial Vehicles, and in 1973 part of FNM (Fàbrica Nacional de Motores), the Brazilian subsidiary of Alfa Romeo. From 1975 all the activities were grouped with Magirus in a new company (IVECO), and from now on it started the slow disappearance of the specific products of each brand. In 1915, Gianni Agnelli, founder of Fiat, created the S.I.T.A. (Società Italiana Trasporti Automobilistici) to ensure the transport of people and goods, and clearly to develop its commercial vehicles production (S.I.T.A. was part of Fiat up to 1987).

We have already seen (see 5th part, no. 13) that Menarini was established in Bologna in 1919 building horse drawn carriages, car components and later buses and trucks bodies for Fiat chassis. After the Second World War there was a great growth, but in the 1980s an excess of prudence by the ownership made the company weaker in the face of competition, leading to its acquisition by Breda, later to be integrated in Finmeccanica in 2001, and to be sold in 2015 to the new company IAA (Industria Italiana Autobus), owner of Menarini and Padane brands.

The Fiat 309 was a bus produced by Fiat V.I. from 1958 to replace the 642RN, which had been derived from a truck. This vehicle was designed from the beginning as a bus. Its production ceased in 1970, when replaced by the 308. It was available in the 9-metre version, with line and Gran Turismo versions, designed by Cansa of Cameri but it was also available as a chassis destined for external body builders, especially Carrozzeria Orlandi, Dalla Via, Portese, Bianchi and above all Menarini. The first 309’s mechanics, placed in the middle of the chassis, derived from the truck 642, but in 1963 they derived from the 643 and the denomination became 309/1 (a flat 6 in line, delivering 153 hp  with a 5-speed gearbox). The 309 saw widespread operation in Italy but also sold well in export markets, both in the long-distance version and in the Gran Turismo version. The SDM in the name is typical of Menarini products, it stands for “Sintesi Del Meglio” (Summary of the Best), the name given to their new projects, aiming at optimising construction techniques.



The scale model is a faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the “Il Capolinea” fleet (The Terminal), a private Italian association (see www.associazioneilcapolinea.it). The registration plate, from Benevento, is the original one when it was part of the Autolinee Lisella. As usual there is a plastic body and a metal chassis, the rear exhaust highlighted by silver paint. Many items are small separate parts like the front and rear lights, wipers and the rear compartment doors. A nice front grille is provided complete with the Menarini and Fiat logos. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 24 (no. 31 in the French collection) Setra-Seida S14 1966 – The Setra brand was born in 1951, but its origins are from the Wagenfabrik Kässbohrer, founded in 1893 in Ulm, and whose products were buses, coaches, vehicle transporters, trailers and special vehicles like snow groomers. After the destruction of World War Two they had to start from scratch and it was decided to create a new company dedicated only to buses. It was named Setra, short for “selbsttragend” (self supporting), referring to the integral nature of the construction, when competitor vehicles still featured a separate chassis and body. Until 1995 the firm operated under the name Kässbohrer-Setra, but in that year economic difficulties forced its sale to Daimler Benz, and to operate as a division of EvoBus GmbH, one of its subsidiaries. The first Setra buses were named according to the number of the rows of seats, like S8, S10, S14. To locate the engine behind the rear axle was another innovation, which subsequently became mainstream. The modular system (same structure’s elements and same cockpit) allowed to change only the wheelbase, the engine power and the interior fittings. Usually the engine was a diesel six by Henschel, delivering 170 CV.


The model is a bus born of an agreement between Setra and Seida (Sociedad Española de Importación y Distribución de Automóviles) a Spanish car and truck dealer and coachbuilder that later evolved into makers of integral chassisless motorcoaches, and  in 1998 merged into EvoBus. Seida was incorporated in 1925, and began as the dealer for Spain of all the brands of Chrysler Corporation, starting to assemble Dodge trucks in 1935. In the 1940s, after the Spanish Civil War, Seida switched to coachbuilding, soon leading the Spanish market of coach bodies, having patented, as Metalbloc, an all-metal body structure. By then Seida became the preferred bodybuilder for Pegaso buses and trucks, Hispano-Suiza trolleybuses, double-deck Guy and Dodge coaches. In 1963 an agreement with Kässbohrer allowed to license-build Setra chassisless coaches. These were equipped with Pegaso engines and were marketed with simultaneous double badge as Setra Seida and Pegaso. The S14, a full-length 12-meter 55 seat vehicle, was the most in demand. Despite being rather expensive, these coaches were very successful in the Spanish market. In the 1970s MAN, Mercedes-Benz or Cummins engines were offered as alternative power units to the Pegaso ones, and the Setra Seida and Pegaso badging was replaced by just Setra.

The scale model is again a faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, owned by the “La Pamplonesa”, a Spanish family business dedicated to renting coaches and minibuses in Pamplona (Navarra) (see www.lapamplonesa.com). As usual there is a plastic body and a metal chassis, the body is quite bright, helped by the blue and light blue livery and plenty of windows. The windows on the roof would have meant that during summer it would be very hot inside. Perhaps because of its length the model seems to be a bit flimsy, too flexible. The registration plate is from Donostia-San Sebastián, a coastal city located in the Basque Autonomous Community.

The small “SP” plate doesn’t mean “Spain” but “Servicio Públicos”. it is a compulsory plate to indicates that the vehicle is dedicated to providing public services: taxis, buses, etc. There are two plates one at the front and the other in the rear of the vehicle, this last one should incorporate a light that complies with the same conditions as for the rear registration plate. The interior is quite basic and is in a strange purple-pink colour. There are many small added items such as front and rear bumpers, wipers and rear view mirrors. The Pegaso logo is modelled correctly on the front grille and on the hubcaps. There is no apparent differences to the French edition.

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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 7

By Fabrizio Panico

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Two more French buses and an interesting one from Hungary, 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 by Ixo.

No. 19 (no. 32 in the French collection) Renault AGP Saharien 1937 – Renault is one of the oldest automobile manufacturer : established in 1899, already in 1903 began to manufacture its own engines and introduced in 1906 its first commercial truck. During the Great War they produced munitions, military aircraft engines and the revolutionary FT tank. A range of light/medium/heavy trucks named AGx was produced between 1937 and 1941, it included both conventional (AGC, AGT) and forward control (AGK, AGP, AGR) trucks. The AGP was a front engined, rear-wheel drive truck, with a 4-speed manual gearbox, assembled in Boulogne-Billancourt. The engine could be a 4-litre inline-four petrol unit or a 4.7-litre inline-four diesel (AGPD in this case), both with a 65 hp power output. In 1937, the Société Algérienne des Transports Tropicaux (SATT) commissioned a local coachbuilder to build a new AGP-based coach for its trans-Sahara passenger service to replace the heavier Renaults it was using before.

The van-like streamlined steel bodywork was insulated inside with cork, with a total length a little more of 7 metres. Usually it included seven seats for passengers in the front compartment, plus four more in the central one. At the rear there was space for goods and mail bags. More baggage could be stored in a compartment on the roof, covered by a simple tarpaulin, in this case they worked as a further insulator from the Sahara sun. Its could carry 400 litres of fuel, but on the desert trails it could need around 40 litres every 100 km. Each coach received its own number and name.

The scale model reproduces the SATT “Ligne du Hoggar” coach no. 64 “Guêpe” (Wasp) in its silver livery. The body is plastic, and the chassis is of diecast metal. Underneath, engine, rear axle and springs are all modelled in a basic manner, whilst the exhaust is an extra component like the front grille.

The two ladders needed to reach the luggage area on the roof are nicely modelled, as is the brown tarpaulin to cover the luggage area. There are no wipers, it never rains in the Sahara. On the sides of the vehicle the names of the main stops and the “Pullman” logo are printed. A correct registration plate is printed with the two letters code “AL” as Algeria was part of France until 1952.

There are no apparent differences to the French edition. This is quite a small vehicle, but is an interesting addition to the collection.


No. 20 (no. 12 in the French collection) SOMUA OP5-3 RATP 1955 – The origins of the French manufacturer Somua (Société d’Outillage Mécanique et d’Usinage d’Artillerie) date back to 1861, when Ethienne Bouhey started producing machine tools, very well regarded in France and abroad. Based in Saint-Ouen, a suburb of Paris, the company later was renamed Somua and during the Great War it became a subsidiary of Schneider-Creusot, already one of the companies providing buses to the Parisian STCRP. But between The Great War and the Second World War Renault became the exclusive supplier of Parisian buses, and Somua went back to producing trucks and military vehicles, like the S35 and S40 tanks. In 1946 the company presented the JL12, a truck equipped with a flex-fuel four cylinder engine under license from the Swedish Hesselman company. But the “Commission des plans de modernisation de l’automobile” (the famous “Plan Pons”) decided to merge Somua with Willème and Panhard to form a new company, the Union Française de l’Automobile (UFA).

Panhard directed UFA and only its engines could be used in trucks or buses, like the OP5. In the 50s, after leaving UFA, Somua suffered from a reduction in military orders and was forced to join Latil and the trucks division of Renault to counter Berliet : in 1955 LRS Saviem was born : Latil-Renault-Somua Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d’Equipments Mécaniques. Somua went on supplying the OP5 to the RATP for some more years, while Saviem was the brand for the new models.

The OP5 was the result of the project for a new generation of post-war Parisian buses, as requested by the CMP (Compagnie du Métropolitain, the future RATP): specifications required a closed body bus, with more comfort and a fixed place for the conductor. Somua produced the chassis and the engine/transmission unit, the bodies were assembled as a wooden frame covered with panels in Duralinox directly by the RATP for the first 100 “1950 Paris type” buses, while the 200 more “Banlieue type” buses were build as entirely metal structure in welded tubes by MGT (Million Guiet Tubauto). The diesel engine was in front of the chassis, with the batteries and fuel tank in the middle. But the presence of only two doors was an obstacle to the passengers movement and in 1955 the RATP ordered the new OP5-3, slightly longer than the OP5 to allow a third central door and with an all metal body by MGT. A very reliable bus, the OP5 modernised the Parisian fleet, slowly replacing the old open platform buses, and becoming a real Paris trademark.

The scale model of the OP5-3 is quite large, with a plastic body, a metal chassis and the classic green and cream livery. Underside details are sufficient, the exhaust is silver painted and there is a rear tow hitch. The destination plate reads “#56 – Pte de Clignancourt” and on both sides there are “Larousse” ads, while in the rear there is a “Chantelle” one, all very agreeable. Inside the seats are quite basic and there is the conductor’s place. The four-leaf doors are modelled well. Indeed it is a beautiful model. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 21 (no. 17 in the French collection) Ikarus type 66 1955 – In 1895, when Budapest was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Imre Uhri established a company focused on horse carriages. Later on it started producing bodies for buses, but the 1929 crisis forced its closure. In 1935 the company resumed production, building bodies for the MAVAG vehicles. After the Second World War it was nationalised and joined to Ikarus, an aircraft maker, and charged to build coaches and buses. These were widely used throughout the Comecon bloc, even in the Soviet Union. They were also exported to countries in Asia and Africa aligned with the Soviet Union.

Sales increased year-by-year and in 1971 over 100,000 buses were manufactured, and Ikarus was the largest bus builder in the Eastern Bloc. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the loss of Comecon caused a collapse of orders. The company was privatised, and then sold to Irisbus which ceased vehicle production in 2003. An Hungarian entrepreneur re-started bus and trolleybus production in 2006, planning a second bus factory in the USA, while a third one is planned in Turkey.

The Ikarus 66 (and the 55, its Gran Turismo version) was a successful monocoque bus with a rear engine. This reduced noise levels, meant that no long drive shaft was needed, and maximized the interior space. The straight six diesel engine was a 145 HP Hungarian Csepel, at the start with a pneumatic clutch, but later on with a dry monodisc one. The presence of power steering was a plus and being a robust and powerful bus it was used in many countries. Over 16,700 Ikarus 55/66 were assembled, with over 8,500 going to  the DDR (German Democratic Republic), one of the most important trading partners for Ikarus.

The scale model has a plastic body and metal chassis, with a good level of detail. Many parts are added, like three rear view mirrors, the wipers, front and rear lights, front bumper, luggage rack and exhaust system. A correct registration plate for Dresden, the first letter “R” indicating the Dresden district, whilst on the sides there is the City’s Coat of Arms. Well reproduced interior features a well modelled drivers area complete with a nice dashboard. The cream livery is a bit dull but authentic. There are no apparent differences to the French edition. A nice big model, very well executed.


The Fiat 418 AC/M Menarini 1975 (Trieste) which featured in  Part 5 of the Italian series has now been seen in the French collection as no. 68.

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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part 6

By Fabrizio Panico

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

This time we have one more British bus, a French one and an Italian one, all from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French collection “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.


No. 16 (no. 16 also in the French collection) AEC Regal III by Harrington 1950 – The Associated Equipment Company, or AEC, built buses and lorries from 1912 until 1979, when it was taken over by Leyland and its name disappeared. Indeed its origins are connected to the LGOC (London General Omnibus Company) which started producing its own motor omnibuses in 1909, the X-type and then the famous B-type : in 1912 LGOC was taken over by the Underground Group of companies, and as part of the reorganisation a separate concern was set up for the bus manufacturing, named Associated Equipment Company. During the First World War its assembly lines methods helped in producing large numbers of lorries. Easily associated with London’s Routemaster, AEC gained a high reputation for quality and reliability, supplying commercial vehicles around the world. From 1929, all the names of lorries began with “M” (Majestic, Mammoth, and so on), and all those of buses began with “R” (Regent, Regal, and so on). The AEC Regent III was a double-decker bus chassis manufactured by AEC, usually fitted with AEC’s 9.6-litre diesel engine at the front, ‘Wilson‘ preselective gearbox and air-pressure operated brakes, and available with bodies from Park Royal, Metro Cammell Weymann and so on. From the Regent, indeed only a development of a 30s chassis, AEC developed a single-decker one, named Regal, for use in the suburbs and in the country. Thomas Harrington & Sons Ltd was a coachbuilder from 1897 until 1966, beginning with the construction of horse-drawn carriages, then specialising in commercial vehicles, buses and coaches, and after the First World War concentrating on luxury coaches plus some single-decker bus bodies and other general coachbuilding activity.

After the Second World War demand for new buses and coaches was somewhat pent-up and Harrington was able to build a satisfactory export trade, particularly to South America and British colonies. Production ceased in 1966 and spares, stock and goodwill were purchased by Plaxton. Following its introduction in 1935, the ‘dorsal fin’ (no aerodynamic function, in reality it housed the air ventilation system) was available on many different coaches and became a real trademark of Harrington.

The scale model, metal diecast body and plastic chassis, is the faithful reproduction of one of only two known survivors : run by the Bevan Brothers of Soudley Valley (Gloucestershire), it sports an elegant red and bordeaux livery. Registered KDD38, it is a Regal III type 9621A and it has a Harrington FC33F body, complete with the famous dorsal fin.

Very nice wheels with the AEC logo, and neat shades over the side windows too. The driver’s area is separated from the passenger seats, all being well reproduced.

Nice front grille with the AEC logo. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 17 (no. 2 in the French collection) Isobloc 648 DP 1955Joseph Besset, a coachbuilder in Annonay (Ardèche), was one of the many specialised in buses and coaches, but was unsatisfied by the truck chassis then available : he acquired in 1937 a license from the American Gar Wood based on the principle of a welded tubes structure, which was rigid enough to avoid the use of a separate chassis, and founded Isobloc in Lyon to become a full manufacturer . To avoid the conflict of interest which would arise if his coaches competed with coaches from chassis makers using his bodybuilding facilities bodywork was no longer built for others.

The prototype was a success and in the post-war period it was so popular it reached almost 20% of the registrations in its class. The rear overhung engine, a petrol from Ford, was thirsty, and it was quickly replaced by a Panhard diesel. But Besset no longer had the means to develop his business and Isobloc was taken over by Saca and then by Saviem.

From 1959 there were no more Isobloc buses. The 648 DP was the final evolution of the Isobloc coach, powered by a Panhard 6.8-litre diesel engine, and fitted with a five speed gearbox, and air brakes. It was liked by the drivers as it was a real Gran Turismo coach, with plexiglass roof windows and lots of chrome.

The scale model has a metal body and a plastic chassis with basic details. It is finished in a cream and brown livery. It has no destination plate, but the registration is from the La Manche (English Channel) department. The seats and the driver area are well modelled. At the rear the luggage ladder is modelled, as is the luggage area on the roof, where trunks and suitcases have been included. Lights and bumpers are separate items as is the exhaust system. The large area of windows have been well modelled capturing the Isobloc look well. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.



No. 18 (no. 62 in the French collection) Fiat 626 RNL 1948 – The Fiat 626 was a medium truck built to the specifications of the Italian army and air force for military operations prior to the Second World War. It was the first Fiat truck with the advanced cabin and it replaced the models 621 and 633. The 626 N (N for nafta, Italian for diesel fuel) was the initial civilian version, followed by the NL (Nafta Lungo, or diesel long) with a longer wheelbase and the NLM (Nafta Lungo Militare) for the army. Production finished in 1948, after 10,000 Fiat 626 had been built.

In addition to the standard ones, Fiat put into production one more chassis, the 626 RNL (Ribassato Nafta Lungo, lowered long diesel) for the bus version, which was very common even in the postwar period. The engine was a 5.7-litre diesel six, a bit under-powered with only 70 hp, but it had the advantage of being easy to maintain. The bus version was adopted by the Italian air force, and often it is called “Aeronautica Italiana” type. The structure is typically pre-war, with a wooden roof covered by a waterproof canvas. It was homologated for 27 seats, plus 32 if drawing a special trailer.

The scale model is the faithful reproduction of a restored vehicle, part of the Politi collection, very likely one of the largest in Italy (see www.collezionepoliti.it), more than 600 buses, lorries and cars, many of which may be hired.  The registration plate, from Udine, is the original one, but the 626 was first painted in the classic medium blue-dark blue livery, but is now painted red and dark red.

As usual the model has a plastic body and metal chassis. The chassis is good and is fitted with nicely rendered classic “Trilex” wheels. Correctly a different type on front and rear.  The interior is rather basic but that reflects the fact that the original vehicle was very basic. Many separate items are fitted like the front and rear lights, both bumpers and the rear spare wheel door. A ladder is provided to the rear to reach the luggage area on the roof, but no baggage is fitted.

A neat front grille complete with the period Fiat logo finishes the model well. Again there are no apparent differences to the French edition.

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Aussie Buses and other thoughts

By Mick Haven

During my first trip to Australia back in 1997, I paid little attention to their buses, although buses had played a major part in my life for at least the first third of it. Whilst it’s true that I would have seen plenty of them down there within the first day or two of my arrival, there are two which linger in the memory. The first one is the ‘Surfside’ Leyland National LWB on route number 1, showing the destination, Tweed Heads, a town in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast. This is on the border with neighbouring New South Wales, a place where you can straddle the state border line, with one foot in Queensland and one in New South Wales. Why does the Surfside stand out? In reality it was no different to any other Leyland National, basically a long rattling tin box with very basic fixtures and fittings, not a patch on the old solid L.T.s, Leyland PDs and Bristols. Maybe it was because it was my first ride on an Aussie bus. Maybe it was due to the novelty of seeing and riding on a ‘British’ bus, one so familiar back home, yet eleven thousand miles away in a foreign town. I would ride the same service the following year. During those first trips down there, I had little or no knowledge of Australian models either, Elle MacPherson aside. I certainly had never heard of Trax or of its parent company, Top Gear Models. Once I did become aware of them, via computer and consequently, the internet, I began collecting models of the ubiquitous ‘Ute’, which is to Australians what pick-up trucks are to Americans. Over a period of time, about a dozen of them made their way north, not only by Trax but by Biante and Classic Carlectables, two other unfamiliar names back then. I was also fascinated by Trax commercial vehicles brand, Trux. In amongst them, all in 1/76th scale, was the Surfside, and I think also there was the same bus, but in the livery of buses plying their trade in Canberra and Tasmania. There were also double deck and single deck buses of a much older vintage. I began getting Trax new and current releases literature by post, and keeping up with them on the ‘net. This would have been around the end of the last century at a guess. I still get regular updates from them in both forms.

My collection of British bus models isn’t extensive, no more than in the low twenties. As, if for no other reason, I don’t see the point in having models of buses which have no relevance to me. Even that is only partially true because as well as buses, I grew up with many of the country’s well known national coach companies, e.g. East Kent, Southdown, Ribble, Royal Blue, Midland Red and so many others, long before they fell under the ‘National’ umbrella that we know today. For a coach spotter in the 1950s, London’s Victoria Coach Station was Mecca. To get models of them would run into hundreds. Consequently, I wouldn’t have the space to display them. So I only collect or have collected, models of buses I grew up with, I rode on or drove for a living, i.e. London Transports and Green Lines on Essex routes, Eastern Nationals and Southdowns.

I digress. Seeing the Surfside in updates from Trax meant that having ridden on one, I had to have the model, so one was ordered. An altogether far more satisfying purchase was to follow. During that same trip down under, I left the Gold Coast and went to Sydney for a couple of days. From there I had to get to Melbourne, where I had arranged to stay with friends. I had three choices of travel, train, plane or long distance bus. The first two were out of the question financially. I opted to go by road, and the method of transport I chose was operated by the ‘Firefly Express’ company who ran a twice daily service between Sydney and Melbourne, and a service between Melbourne and Adelaide. The Sydney/Melbourne service departed at 07:00 and 19:30. It took 12 hours! On arrival at the departure point, there was this splendid double deck bus, or is it a double deck coach? Whatever, it was a super vehicle. I used it there and back.

I had been back home awhile, and looked in on Trax on a regular basis. I had never forgotten the Firefly and thought that it would make an excellent model, so I e-mailed them to ask if they had plans to make one, and if not, could they consider it. An e-mail arrived within a day or so, advising me that by sheer coincidence, the release of one was imminent. It was. I ordered one straightaway, and it arrived within two weeks. My timing was perfect, because the production run was short lived. If ever there was a case of ‘now you see it, now you don’t’, this was it. I got lucky. There were one or two other models sharing the same body, but in the livery of other operators. The vehicle is a ‘Landseer’, by Australian coach builder, Denning, and has the almost mandatory ‘roo bars across the front, very necessary when crossing the outback in the middle of the night. This is a bus model I treasure. The Denning company also produced single deck interstate coaches, not dissimilar to classic American Greyhounds. These too were replicated by Trux. Pictures of many Australian buses and coaches, including Firefly’s, can be found on the Showbus Australia web site.

The Surfside model was cast for Trax by EFE The Firefly chassis has no manufacturers name. Was this a special commission by E.F.E. for the Australian market? That I don’t know, but like far too many EFE.s, neither of them have mirrors. However, I believe the giveaway is in the absence of them. I have never seen or heard it explained why so many EFEs didn’t have mirrors. What doesn’t make sense is that for all those that didn’t, many others did? No bus ever leaves the garage without mirrors, I know, I drove them for a living. The real Firefly had those long protruding affairs, seen on the vast majority of long distance coaches.

The third bus shown is of one operated by Sydney State Transit, and is by C.M.N.L. Northcord. For realism and minor details, including mirrors, it surpasses the other two by some distance. The bus featured is on a Volvo B12BLE CB60 chassis, on route 438 to Parramatta, one of many of the type in service at the time. While the models may look out of place with the London Transports, the Eastern Nationals and the Southdowns, they are nevertheless fine models in a small collection.

Two others which I would like to get my hands on, are a Sydney State Transit Mercedes on route 311 to Bondi, and a little twenty something seater? in service with the Sunbus company in and around Cairns in Far North Queensland. The latter was on a Mercedes chassis. There is a similar Mercedes model in the colours of Surfside, which is probably based on an EFE but that model has a folding door at the front only, where the Sunbus has a longer chassis, with one folding door at the front and one in the middle, so a conversion would only be for the very experienced modeller.

I seem to recall that C.M.N.L. may have produced the other Sydney bus, or one like it, but I can’t find either one anywhere, not even on eBay Australia. As the Firefly and the 311, if indeed one does exist, both date back nearly twenty years, finding a model of either is highly unlikely.

MAR contributors interested in unusual or ‘worldwide’ bus models may like to look in on eBay under ‘Australian buses’. There are a number of classic buses from Trux to be found, Leyland Atlanteans for example, and some even older. At the time of writing, I’ve recently received my regular Trax special offers literature. They are running a ‘Super Sale’, offering classic Holdens, Australian Fords and Chryslers, including some Utes at $23 each, reduced further if ordering more than one, and Trux buses at $30 each, also reduced further for multiple buys. One of those which made me smile was a half cab double decker 1949 AEC Regent. Why? Because the bus has folding doors at the front and an open platform at the rear. Yes, and? Much fuss was made with the introduction of the new ‘Bus for London’, ‘The New Routemaster‘, or even ‘ the Boris Bus’, as it was dubbed. This ‘new’ bus, shares the same configuration as a 1949 A.E.C. Information on the Firefly web site leads me to believe that the Landseer has long been phased out in favour of a single deck coach. Finding a model of one would seem to be harder than finding the real thing.

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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part Five

By Fabrizio Panico


This time we have one more bus from Italy and two from France. All from the Italian Hachette partwork “Autobus dal mondo”, a collection of sixty 1:43 scale bus models, very similar to the French  “Autobus et autocars du monde”, produced in Bangladesh for Ixo.

No. 13 (not in the French collection, at least for the moment) Fiat 418 AC/M Menarini 1975 – A typically urban bus, produced by the Italian Fiat bus manufacturer from 1972 onwards. Adopted in all the large cities of Italy, this urban bus has had an unprecedented commercial success: over 6,000 were produced and its legendary strength and mechanical characteristics of reliability and low consumption extended its working life well after the year 2000. Beside the standard Fiat body, as usual named “Cameri” from the site of the plant near Novara, two 418 chassises (AC and AM, short and long version) were available to outside specialised bodywork manufacturers like Portesi, Pistoiesi, Breda, Dalla Via, Padane and Menarini.

Menarini was established in Bologna in 1919 building horse drawn carriages and car components. From 1925 it started producing buses and trucks bodies for Fiat chassis. After the war the transition from wood to metal for interiors allowed a great growth, but in the 1980s an excess of prudence by ownership (favouring self-financing over a bank loan) slowed the expansion and made the company weaker in the face of competition, especially foreign competition, leading to its acquisition by Breda.

An articulated version was produced by Macchi and Viberti. The 418 was equipped with the Fiat 8200.12 diesel engine, a flat straight six, placed centrally under the floor, of 9,819cc developing 143 kw of power. Some versions had an automatic gearbox, but a manual gearbox was available.

The model has a plastic body and a very light metal baseplate, with few details. The livery is dark green and light green, typical of the period, and the logos are of the ACNA of Trieste. It has quite nice wheels, and a well detailed the driver area, with a full dashboard and levers. The interior is quite basic (but it was indeed a very “Spartan” bus), note the presence of the conductors seat with its tickets machine. The doors and the windows are well executed as are the two rear mirrors and the wipers.

In the French collection (no. 53) there is another Fiat 418, a 1972 Cameri from the AMT of Genova, the body is a bit different (doors, front lights and windscreen), the livery is orange and grey. It will be used as a gift to the subscribers to the Italian collection. We’ll see it later on.

No. 14 (no. 7 in the French collection) Chausson APH 1950 – Société des usines Chausson was a French manufacturing company, based in the Paris region from 1907, supplier of components to the automotive industry, like radiators, tanks and exhaust systems. Chausson added car bodies to its range of specialities after the 1930s when, following the acquisition of Chenard & Walcker and a Budd licence, focused its attention on unitary bus bodies.

During the post war boom, by now with Peugeot and Renault its principal shareholders, and merged with Brissonneau and Lotz, Chausson also produced bodies for light commercial vehicles and smaller volumes coupés such as the Renault Floride/Caravelle, the Opel GT and the Citroën SM. Chausson closed in 2000.

The use of a self-supporting metal bodywork instead of the traditional use of a separate chassis lightened the weight of the vehicle and made it more efficient at constant engine power.

According to the directives of the “Pons Plan” for the modernisation and reconstruction of the industry, Chausson started producing buses and coaches derived from its first 1942 prototype, the KOM, at first named APE (petrol Panhard engine), and then followed by the APH (diesel Panhard engine) and the AH (petrol Hotchkiss engine). To accommodate the longer Hotchkiss engine it was necessary to extend its front cover, and to standardise it: it created the “nez de cochon” or “pig nose”. It was a wide success, but already by 1952 the AP52 had a new body style, with a flat front. But the thousands of buses supplied to many French cities during the first 1950s allowed for a long lasting memory of the “nez de cochon”, much loved by all the French. Then in 1959 Saviem acquired all their buses activities and Chausson left that market.

Plastic body and metal baseplate for a quite heavy model with a bland livery, light green and cream.

No indications of a transport company, only the Chausson logos, but the registration plate is from the Isère department, very likely Grenoble (in southeastern France) and the destination plate says Vienne, a commune of the same department, 20 mi south of Lyon, once a major center of the Roman empire. The front lights, rear mirrors and the “nez de cochon” are all nicely reproduced, but the wipers are only engravings on the screen. The drivers area is well reproduced with the typical engine cover, and the windows. There is a nice luggage rack on the roof complete with a small folded ladder at the back. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.

No. 15 (no. 11 in the French collection) Citroen type 23R series U Chassaing 1947 – The Citroen type 23 was presented at the 1935 Paris Motor Show as a light truck with a payload of only 1,500 kg. Powered by the 1911 cc petrol engine of the “Traction” mounted in reverse (driving the rear wheels through a specially developed gearbox) and with an inverted direction of rotation.

It had a maximum speed of 70 km/h. In 1936, the company offered a diesel version, in 1940 its chassis was extended by 37 cm in wheelbase and named 23L, to became 23R the following year with hydraulic braking and a reinforced chassis. It was a very basic truck, but here simplicity equalled reliability, and that’s what users need. In 1953 it was equipped with a new monocoque cabin, its production lasted until the late 1960s, and over 120,000 were sold.

A very small model, if compared to the previous ones, but of extreme elegance in its dark green and white livery. Metal body and plastic chassis, with double rear wheels and a spare wheel under the chassis. It is a torpedo body, with four rows of seats, each with its own windscreen, and it is very well detailed. The drivers area is well reproduced, with even the pedals reproduced. The radiator grille and the front lights are very nice. Even the folding top fittings are modelled on the body sides. There are  no apparent differences to the French edition.

It is the reproduction of one of two petrol type 23R ordered, in bare chassis form, by the company of coaches Rocamadour-Georges du Tarn in 1947 and bodied as sixteen seater torpedos by Chassaing, in Martel, Lot department. It was used until 1964 on the line Rocamadour-Aurillac-Cahors and the Gorges of the Tarn, the second torpedo having been destroyed in an accident. This company was mainly concerned with tourist traffic: pilgrimages, excursions to the sea, weddings and the like. A tour like that could last a whole week and in that case a baggage trailer would be towed. The vehicle modelled has survived and has been restored in the original colours by a local enthusiasts club.

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Oxford Beadle Integral East Kent

By Maz Woolley

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

Oxford Diecast continue to catch up with their release program. This article looks at the new 1:76 scale Beadle Integral 76BI001 which has just arrived in the shops. The first thing to note is that Oxford has made the whole bodyshell in plastic. Many recent Oxford coach/bus models had plastic uppers and metal lower sections but here only the base plate is diecast. I know that this will not please some collectors but when one sees the fine detail that has been incorporated and the absolutely flush glazing it offers in a thin walled bodyshell I am sure that most collectors will be happy for Oxford to continue down this path.

This coach dates back to the “make do and mend” period after the Second World War when new buses and coaches were a scarce commodity. During this time many coachbuilders built new bodies getting rid of the old-fashioned half-cabs and giving them up to date looks. J C Beadle of Dartford in Kent were such a company taking Leyland and AEC chassis and adding modern bodies. East Kent were one of several companies that were customers. The vehicle modelled by Oxford started life as a Leyland TD5 double decker and was rebodied in 1951 as a 35 seat coach. It was withdrawn from service in 1964 and after being in private hands it was acquired for preservation in 1972. At some point during its working life it had a white roof added offering Oxford the option to do another version of this vehicle.

I admire Oxford for making this unusual and attractive vehicle. Options for endless recolours are limited as Beadle seem to have changed the front end styling frequently so I hope that this model sells well to encourage Oxford to make more unusual models. A version in East Yorkshire colours is planned for later in 2017.

As to the model itself it is excellent. Comparison with the archive photographs available show it to be an accurate replica with all the salient styling features well captured. Some simplification has been made, the grille area is painted black whereas pictures show it to be textured and probably in body colour, and the destination, number, and fleet boards should all be slightly recessed. These minor points do not spoil the overall effect of the model.

Printing of the body mouldings with chrome surrounding cream centres of the body mouldings has been done accurately and gives an excellent appearance. The tiny operators script and passenger emergency door markings are all there and difficult to read even with a magnifying glass as they are to scale. The lighting and chrome front decoration is all very neatly moulded and highlighted. The rear small lower red lights could have been better centred when printing but as everything else is spot on it is acceptable. I am impressed with the number plates with the silver on black printing and the realistic size and spacing of the letters and numbers .

Most of my previous Oxford buses/coaches have had poorly aligned rear wheel sets but I have either been luck this time or Oxford are improving the quality of their fitting.

All in all an excellent model and great value for money at the price it sells for in the UK.

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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part Four

By Fabrizio Panico

Three more models 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.

At last a Japanese bus, very ”American” indeed, plus a “classic” from Italy and a “streamliner” from Germany.

No. 10 (no. 56 in the French collection) Lancia Esatau P Bianchi & Co 1953 – Lancia produced a wide range of vans, trucks, buses and military vehicles from the very beginning, forming Lancia Veicoli Industriali in 1912. After Fiat‘s takeover of the company production of commercial vehicles ended in the early 1970s, with some models rebadged as Iveco. The Esatau is a famous series of truck and bus chassis produced from 1947 to 1980, the first trucks were of the bonneted type (nicknamed “musone”, big snout or nose).

They were fitted with an inline six cylinder diesel engine, later on switching to a cab over engine. In 1949 the first buses were of the “underfloor” type, the engine was laid on its side, in front of the front axle. The buses were bodied by the most important coachbuilders, among them the Bianchi & C. of Varese, like the Gran Turismo model presented. The city bus version remained in production from 1948 through 1973, and was used in Rome, Milan and Turin. Trolley bus and articulated versions were also made, like the trolleys used in Athens.

A large model of a big vehicle, actually an Esatau V11, as can be read on the model’s front. The body is plastic, while the metal baseplate is well detailed. Light blue and dark blue livery, with poor definition where the masking  has not created a crisp edge to the over painted area. The twin front grilles are very nice: very “fifties”. A fragile front antenna is fitted and a sunshade can be seen on the windscreen.

There is a small ladder at the rear and a luggage rack on the roof. Interiors and driver area are a bit basic, but the fitting of the inserted windows is very good. There is a “trailer” signal on the roof, but due to the fact there is no trailer it should be reclined. Indeed, the driver of this splendid vehicle would have been penalised by the police: the signal (yellow triangle on a black background) had to be in an upright position, clearly visible, only when towing and had to be folded in an horizontal position when there was no trailer. The licence plate is from Milan, and is marked December 1954. No apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 11 (no. 13 in the French collection) Mercedes Benz LO3100 1936 – Karl Benz built the world’s first motorised bus in 1895, and by 1898 both Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, then rivals, were already exporting their buses to Europe. Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie merged into one company in 1926: Daimler-Benz AG (also known as Mercedes-Benz) was formed. The following year the company presented its first combined bus range. During the thirties the development of the Autobahn network forced vehicle manufacturers to improve their products, mechanically and aerodynamically.

In 1935 Mercedes presented the Lo 3100 Stromlinien-omnibus: an aerodynamic small bus derived from the Lo 3100 standard bus. A light vehicle, with a very smoothly  profiled body, and fitted with a 90 CV six cylinder diesel engine, it was able to reach a 115 km/h top speed, but only carried 22 passengers. The driver’s area was separated from the passengers one.

Operated by the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft, in a cream and red livery, it was not as successful as hoped: the cheaper railways were still preferred by the public. After a few years the war put an end to such experiments. Only in 1951 did Mercedes-Benz presented its first bus specifically designed for passenger transport, and not derived from a truck, as were the buses produced until then. Since 1995 Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches have been under the umbrella of EvoBus GmbH, belonging to Daimler AG.

A nice model of a really “compact” small bus. Plastic body and a detailed metal chassis. The roof has a plastic insert to represent the opening top. The window inserts are very well executed. Its aerodynamic shape is enhanced by the white and silver livery. Quite a nice front radiator grille, another plastic insert. It has a basic interior, but the driver area is nicely detailed, with the presence of the gear and brake levers, and a dashboard with instruments. No licence plates, only the model denomination (a works presentation model ?). No apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 12 (no. 14 in the French collection) Isuzu BXD 30 1962 – Isuzu Motors’ history began in 1916, when Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. started a cooperation with the Tokyo Gas and Electric Industrial Co. to build automobiles. A technical cooperation with Wolseley Motors Ltd generated in 1922 the first domestically produced car, the Wolseley A-9. In 1933, Ishikawajima Automotive Works merged with DAT Automobile Manufacturing Inc. and changed its name to Automobile Industries Co., the following year their products were renamed Isuzu (after the river near the famous Ise Grand Shrine), that translated into English means “fifty bells”. More mergers and renaming followed and in 1953 the Hillman Minx was produced under license of Rootes Group. The 1961 introduction of Isuzu’s first own car, the Bellel, didn’t put an end to Isuzu’s never ending search for a commercial partner : Subaru, Mitsubishi and Nissan came and went, a more durable agreement was at last signed with General Motors. In the late 1990s Isuzu dropped all sales of cars and is today mostly known as a commercial vehicles and diesel engines manufacturing company.

In Japan the BXD30 is considered a real national monument : it draws its origins from the pre-war bonneted TX trucks and adopts a lowered frame behind the driver’s seat facilitating a very low step to give easy passenger boarding.

The engine is a direct injection 130 CV straight six diesel, famous for its good performance and reasonable consumption. Different bodies and interiors were available, depending upon its use. It was used as both an urban bus and a medium distance one. Like all Japanese vehicles the driver seat is on the right and the passenger access is on the left,

The model sports an orange and yellow livery, with many logos and Japanese characters, but there is also a logo in European characters : Tokai Bus Co. is a company owned by the JR (Japan Railways Group) providing regional, long distance, and chartered bus services) and operating in the Tokai region, connecting Nagoya with other major cities in Japan.

The model is quite heavy, very likely due to the metal body and plastic chassis, both of them well detailed. Front and rear white bumpers are plastic inserts. The correct green licence plate with white lettering is a nice touch.

No apparent differences to the French edition, aside perhaps from the yellow paint’s shade, here it seems to be a darker one, but it could depend on the production batch.

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The ZIU-683 Articulated Trolleybus in 1/43 Scale

By John-William Greenbaum

Although uncommon in the United States, perhaps you’ve gone to Canada (or the former East Bloc, France, UK, Greece, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, or Mexico City) and noticed that, in certain cities, the buses will run not off diesel fuel, gasoline, or compressed natural gas, but rather via electricity from overhead lines collected via two pantographs on top of the bus. These type of vehicles are called trolleybuses, and perhaps their largest use has been in the East Bloc.

Start Scale Models has made this 1/43 Russian trolleybus in Russia!  On this model, the pantographs are shown in the down position, not touching electrical wires from which they would ordinarily draw electric current.

This one, which took eight solid years to design, began life as the ZIU-10 and ultimately entered production in 1986 as the ZIU-683 Articulated Trolleybus. At the time it was released, it was the longest trolleybus in the world. Indeed, it could carry 164 people! Designed at the Zavod Imeini Uritskogo (“Factory Named for [Moisei] Uritskiy” as the ZIU-10 in 1978, the factory was located in Saratov and is currently known as “Trolza”.

Despite its enormous length, three axles, and flexible rear portion, like most Soviet trolleybuses, the ZIU-683 was specifically designed not only to function more or less like a typical city bus, but also to look like one. For example, it has the headlights, turn signals, rear lights, and even front fascia typical of a Soviet city bus.  Many features were also copied from West German MAN buses, such as the axles. It also featured a pneumatic suspension system that lacked springs, making for a much more comfortable ride.

An arguable issue was the trolleybus’s triple braking system: electric, pneumatic, and mechanical. Although this made it possible to stop runaway trolleybuses under almost any circumstances, it was also extremely complex and somewhat difficult to service. Still, it’s generally seen as worth the hassle. Indeed, it’s still featured on the currently-manufactured ZIU-6205/TrolZa-6205-series trolleybus, which is still common in Russia.

You might be wondering something: how do you store a ZIU-683 away from overhead lines? The answer is actually quite simple. See those two hooks on the front of the trolleybus? Just take a truck, hook two chains up to it, and pull. Although production only lasted from 1986-2002, surprisingly large amounts of ZIU-683’s were manufactured. So great was the number manufactured, in fact, that not only do many survive as museum pieces, but there are even examples in regular passenger service to this day!

To solve the issue of the electric doors (in an electric bus!) not working after a crash, virtually all have been refitted with pneumatic doors, and examples in production after about 1989 actually did receive them from the factory. Further, exportation of the design has flourished. Although the variants are in some cases radically different, the ZIU-682 series was exported to Yugoslavia, Poland, Greece, Ukraine, Argentina, and Bulgaria. All in all, despite its defects and extreme complexity, the ZIU-683 Trolleybus was and is generally a well-liked vehicle that was surprisingly reliable given the nature of Soviet vehicles in general.

ZIU-683 Articulated Trolleybus
Model by Start Scale Models, w/ operating pantographs 
Figure by Replicars
Years Built: 1986-2002
Engine: 170 Kilowatt (228 HP) Electric Traction Motor
Fuel Type: Electricity (Direct Current) collected,  via Twin Overhead Pantographs
Top Speed: 43.5 mph

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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part Three

By Fabrizio Panico


Three more models 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.

In this third part we are back with buses from France and USA, then a new country : Spain, but all of them quite distinctive.

No. 7 (no. 10 in the French collection) GMC 6000 School bus 1989

Since the second half of the 19th century, in many rural areas of the United States and Canada there was clear the need of a transportation system for those students who lived beyond practical walking distance from school. From farm wagons to horse-drawn carriages, switching then to horseless vehicles, upgrading the body design as long as time and requirements advanced, up to 1939 when the design and production of school buses were “standardised” in a set of rules to be adopted by all body manufacturers.

Those standards were then upgraded, but one of them remains a key part of every school bus in North America today : the adoption of a standard paint colour for all school buses, named National School Bus Glossy Yellow, considered easiest to see in dawn and dusk. Another North American icon was born. GMC, the commercial vehicles division of General Motors since 1912, developed from 1940 a series of dedicated chassis for school duty : the baby boom of the 50s validated this choice, the demand from the school districts growing without end. Today almost half a million school buses are in constant use. GMC based the following B-series on its medium-duty trucks series 6000 : a cowled ladder chassis produced in three separate generations; introduced in 1966, the B-series was redesigned in 1984 and 1993. A strong and reliable chassis, with a wide range of engines : gasoline and diesel, and then alternative fuels like LPG (propane) and CNG (compressed natural gas). The body was usually produced by local suppliers, according to the national standards.

Quite an heavy model, metal body and plastic chassis. Dashboard and seats are a bit basic, but the exterior is really beautiful : it well represents the sturdiness of a vehicle found almost in every town of the States. The classic “yellow” livery is beautifully reproduced, rich with tampo printings. There is  nice modelling of all the different mirrors, flashing lights and the swinging (alas not operative) STOP sign on the left side. The front grille is very well represented with the GMC logo behind it.

Licence plates are from Pennsylvania, Loysville School District, oddly an area rich in Amish communities.. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.

No. 8 (no. 6 in the French collection) Pegaso Z-403 Monoscocca 1951

Pegaso was a Spanish manufacturer of industrial vehicles and, for a short while, sports cars. Its parent company, ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.), was created in 1946, based on the nationalization of the Hispano-Suiza Spanish assets, under the direction of automotive engineer Wifred Ricart, of Alfa Romeo fame. ENASA belonged to the state-owned INI (Instituto Nacional de Industria) industrial holding, established in 1941 to promote the development of Spanish industry and economy. INI included a broad range of companies, including SEAT, later on sold to VW. IVECO took over ENASA in 1990, and the Pegaso name disappeared in 1994 after building more than 350,000 vehicles.

The Z-403 Monocasco was a two-level monocoque (chassis-less) coach, fitted with a 125 hp diesel engine asymmetrically mounted amidships, and built between 1951 and 1957. For maximum comfort, independent front-wheel suspension was used, with transverse arms and torsion bars. The Z-403 structure allowed a better use of space, with all the mechanical units located on the underside of the vehicle, isolated from the passenger compartment, allowing great comfort, good weight distribution and high stability. Its structure, which later on inspired the Scenicruiser, was made up of steel profiles covered with steel panels combined with corrugated sheets of light alloy. The roof was made entirely of light alloy. All of them were structurally important parts. Highly though of because of its safety, comfort and passenger amenities, like radio, bar and even a bookcase, 50 vehicles it were produced in Barcelona. Primary customers were Iberia and Aviaco airlines and Atesa tour operator. No survivors are known to exist.

A very interesting model, beautifully reproduced, with many details that add to its value. Metal body and plastic baseplate, with a silver exhaust system. On the baseplate the model is correctly called “Monocasco”, the Spanish word for a monocoque body. The silver and white livery has a red streak along its sides and front. ENASA title and logo on the sides. Two “metal bars” protect the upper deck windscreens from tree branches, whilst the inside luggage racks are well represented. Licence plate says “1950” while the bus is reported being 1951, very likely a manufacturer test plate. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 9 (no. 9 in the French collection) Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama 1955

Creativity, technology. audacity : three words that well represent André Citroën adventure from 1919. A pioneer not only in the automotive field, but also in advertising, sales and even toys, obviously he couldn’t ignore commercial vehicles. The Citroën truck type 55 launched in 1953, remaining in production until 1965, was available with either a petrol or diesel engine inherited from the Type 45. It had a payload in the order of 5 tonnes and was available in three wheelbases and in 2 x 4 and 4 x 4 versions. An economical and robust chassis, with easy maintenance and a straight six petrol engine: the ideal choice for Jean-Louis Dubreuil, the founder of Cityrama, when he decided to modernise its open top bus fleet. For his futurist project the company Currus would build a double-decker bus with stylishly curved, wrap-around windows, like the famous “bateaux-mouches”. Currus was a company founded in 1900, buying and then renaming the old carriage manufacturer Perrotin and Bollinger (Currus is the latin for carriage), and then in 1906 buying Chastel and David, another carriage manufacturer founded in 1805. By becoming their successor Currus could proclaim itself the oldest body maker in France!

Currus had to overcome many technical problems : the structure had to be as light as possible and visibility at a maximum. Steel profiles and panels were used for the body; curved glass was still in its infancy and plexiglass was often used in its place. The roof was transparent, and could be removed so the upper deck could be used for open air touring in the summer months. Two more buses were built in 1957, and the previous one was facelifted to their shape. Later on four more were produced using a chassis by Saviem. They were retired at the end of the 80s.

Wow, this is really quite a strange model, but it well represents the original vehicle. Due to its complicated shape the body is part metal, part plastic, while the chassis is plastic. The silver livery has the Cityrama logo and red and blue accents. Nice details are included like the open top of the upper deck and the green windows to reduce solar radiation. The interior is basic though the driver’s area is a bit more detailed. Correctly the upper deck seats are in rows of two (right side) plus one (left side), but they are of the new simpler type, without the integrated individual speakers. The lower deck seats are arranged in rows of two plus two, but all the pictures showing the older seats have them in rows of two plus one. Is it possible that the new seats allowed an increased capacity? Maybe a reader can answer the question?

The body represents the vehicle after the 1957 “update” with three front grilles to help prevent the radiator overheating in the heavy Parisian traffic. The licence plate is from the Paris department, and is the plate on the first 1955 Cityrama Currus. The frontal “rostrum” sports the “Ville de Paris” shield, with the legendary Isis boat. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.

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Hachette Italy – World Buses Part Two

By Fabrizio Panico

Here are three more models 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”. The models are produced in Bangladesh by Ixo for Hachette.

After an Italian, a German and an English bus, it is now time to explore three more countries : USA, Switzerland and France.

No. 4 (no. 3 in the French collection) Greyhound Scenicruiser 1956 – A real North American icon : the symbol of a different way to travel the highways. Produced by General Motors after a special order from Greyhound, it was styled by Raymond Loewy. Since the nineteen-fifties it has been the iconic image associated with long distance bus journeys across America.

Development began in 1947 and a series of prototypes were made culminating in 1954 with the first mass produced Scenicruiser. It had a unitary body with aluminium panels, pneumatic suspension, and three axles.

At the rear there were two diesel engines with a torque converter and an electrically controlled hydraulic clutch. But what is really special is the presence of a panoramic upper floor and the luxurious appointments like air conditioning, reclining seats, and a washroom. After the first 1,001 units a high rate of mechanical problems forced a change to a single V8 diesel engine, a mechanical four-speed transmission and some structural reinforcements : the new coach was called the Super Scenicruiser.

Actually the model represents a Super Scenicruiser, not a Scenicruiser. The classic “silver” livery is beautifully reproduced, complete with all the Greyhound decorations. A nice feature is the presence of the licence plates of all the states crossed during the trip, as required by the law. The body is plastic, while the metal baseplate adds “substance” to the model. Drivers seat and dash board  and the interiors are well reproduced. A really imposing model, like the Mercedes already seen. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 5 (no. 8 in the French collection) Saurer L4C 1949 – A real “PostAuto”, owned by the Swiss Post Office (see the P licence plate), used to transport passengers and mail between the towns and villages of the Swiss mountains. With a double side member frame and a longitudinal front engine, this bus is quite similar to a contemporary truck. The engine, a diesel straight six with 125 Horsepower, was particularly brilliant, resilient and inexpensive, thanks to a Saurer own system of direct injection with dual turbulence that improved the combustion and increasing performance.

The closed body, usually by Ramseier & Jenzer, sports a panoramic transparent roof, which must have made the bus very hot during summer. The steering wheel on the right side helps the driver along the Alps hairpins and to distribute the mail at the frequent stops.

Before World War Two Saurer purchased its Swiss competitor Berna, but continued to use the Berna brand. From 1951 Saurer distributed OM medium weight trucks and buses in Switzerland under licence from the Italian Company. In the early 1980s declining sales forced Saurer to join FBW, forming NAW. Later on Daimler Benz took full control dropping all the historic brands.

The model has the classic “yellow post” livery, with black front fenders and silver upper body. It has a plastic body and a metal baseplate. A nice touch is the presence of the spare wheel under the chassis. The interior is quite basic but an accurate representation of the real one. Near the radiator there is a  “mail horn” logo which is the symbol of the Swiss Post Office. A fresh air intake is sited above the windscreen which must have been needed to cool the bus and undo some of the effects of the transparent roof. There are no apparent differences to the French edition.


No. 6 (no. 1 in the French collection) Citroen type T45 1934 – Another national icon : more than 70.000 were produced before and after World War Two travelling all over France. Based on a truck derived chassis it had an engine designed specifically for it instead of using one already fitted to car. It had a petrol powered straight six of 4,600 cc and 73 Horsepower coupled to a four speed transmission.

Not a brilliant vehicle, but a robust one which you could rely on. In 1934 a T45 bus starting from Warsaw covered the 2,456 km of the 13th Monte Carlo Rally in 59 hours and 30 minutes.  After World War Two many old T45s were re-bodied with more up-to-date shapes and refitted with more comfortable seating. These bodies often located the cab over the engine. Many ran side by side with the newer T55 from 1953. The T45 lived through all the financial problems of Citroen, the takeover by Michelin, new laws controlling road transport, the impact of the nationalisation of the railways. It was even seen outside France in Africa and Asia.

The model sports a blue and cream livery, with black fenders. The model is quite heavy due to the metal body (like the AEC London bus), though it has a plastic baseplate. Two spare wheels are fitted at the rear of the body and a ladder to reach the luggage area on the roof. On the substantial luggage rack there are trunks and suitcases, some of which are also used on the Mercedes seen in Part One. There are no fleet markings or destination boards present.

The licence plate is from the Rhone region. The radiator is well done with the “double chevron” nicely modelled. An accurate interior is also fitted. Again there are no apparent differences to the French edition.

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