I’ve been keen to get the ball rolling with this article for a while as I firmly believe Norev haven’t had anywhere near the coverage they are due for their small scale catalogue. Already well established with their larger scale models, they have managed to bring some unique subjects to the (roughly) 1/64 world. Being a French company there’s a lean towards French vehicles which is totally no bad thing! And for those of you who have searched eBay listings or online retailers for Norevs in this scale you’ll know there’s a startling array of vehicles to choose from; from classics to concept cars, Renault 5 Turbos to Citroën 2CVs. Today I’ll be sharing with you some of their classic vehicles that made their way into my collection.
First of all we’re going to look at a personal favourite of mine, the Citroën HY.
The HY was introduced in 1947 and became the first mass produced van to use monocoque construction. It featured technology that at the time was rather pioneering, especially compared to similar vehicles of the era. It had rack and pinion steering, front wheel drive and torsion bar suspension which are all features we take for granted these days, but at the time were unheard of for a commercial vehicle. It was a great sales success especially in mainland Europe and over 470,000 were sold before production ended in 1981. HY vans have had somewhat of a renaissance over the last decade or so, being a cheaper and more unique alternative to the Volkswagen T1/T2, and many small businesses have bought HYs to use as mobile coffee shops and food stalls.
The version Norev have replicated is in the livery of the former French post and telecom administration Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones, PTT. And it’s a cracker of a diecast. Simple, nicely detailed and the PTT livery is perfect for it.
Another vehicle that’s in a fantastically period French livery is this Renault 4, finished in the colours of Berger Syrups, a drinks company. This casting of the Renault 4 is more accurate to the 1/64 scale than Welly’s version that featured in my very first post for Lamley, however I think it’s still a touch to the larger side, probably 1/60 scale. But nevertheless it’s a brilliant representation of the real thing.
Sadly mine came with a bent front axle (an error of an eBay seller more than an error of quality control) so it sits a little funny at the front. But regardless, I love it.
Next, the other Citroëns in my collection, the SM and the fanatastic Mehari.
The SM was a beautifully stylish grand tourer born out of a project to make a sports version of the DS. Citroën’s purchase of Maserati in 1968 coupled their work with the Italian firm’s engine technology to create a car that was highly praised by the motoring press for it’s speed and comfort. Norev’s version is, like the real thing, gorgeous.
I’m a big believer that colour makes all the difference in diecast and this very 70s gold/brown is perfect for the SM.
And now we’re onto a car that’s been a favourite of mine since I was a small child, the Citroën Mehari.
A lightweight off road vehicle designed by a World War 2 fighter ace, the Mehari was named after a breed of camel used by African Nomads. I first encountered one in Northern Spain when I was younger and was fixated. I bought home a 1/43 diecast that has long since been lost but this Norev more than makes up for it. The Mehari is a brilliantly basic vehicle in the flesh and this is an unfussy, simple diecast. It’s not overly detailed but loses nothing despite that. The wheels are perfect and the body moulding is a perfect replica of the corrugate construction of the real thing. Attempting to mirror the sort of dramatic Mediterranean coastal environment that a Mehari may be used to, I took mine for a little stroll up to a nearby beach. The weather conditions couldn’t have been more far removed from the Costa Brava or Cote d’Azur. It was one of the windiest days of a storm that hit the UK named Storm Dennis, but regardless I managed to give the Mehari a fitting backdrop.
Another of France’s car manufacturers to feature in the Norev line up is Simca with their 1000 Rallye.
Simca introduced the 1000 Rallye in 1970 in a clever move designed to plug the gap left behind by the recently departed Renault 8 Gordini. Buyers wanting a bit more fun were left with the heavier, front engined Renault 12 Gordini as a replacement and were left wanting for the rear engined fun the old 8 gave them. Step forward the Rallye. With a rear mounted 1294cc inline 4 with twin Solex carburettors pushing out 82 bhp, the Rallye 2 is often thought of by enthusiasts as the ultimate version of the model. This version is the one replicated by Norev. Mine is finished in this brilliantly period bright green with matt black bonnet. A dark orange and 2 different rally liveries are also available but to me this is the best colourway. It’s a really attractive little model.
I’ll finish with one of the best jewels in Norev’s range. We’re straying away from French vehicles to look at a set of German vehicles that, considering the cost (I paid £14 for mine via eBay), offers cracking value for money.
The 1954 Mercedes Renntransporter, complete with Mercedes W196R “Stromlinie”.
The Renntransporter was an excercise in budgetary excess and marketing designed to get Mercedes’ F1 cars as fast (and and as stylishly) as possible from HQ in Stuttgart to the race tracks of Europe. Created under the leadership of designer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the Renntransporter used the engine and gearbox from the famed 300SL “Gullwing”. Often called the “Blue Wonder”, it was capable of speeds in excess of 100mph. Fitting transport then for the legendary W196R, an F1 car that took advantage of a loophole in the rules and featured enclosed bodwork. The streamlining was a huge success on fast tracks but not so good on the more technical circuits meaning Mercedes alternated over the 1954 and 1955 seaons between use of the streamlined “Monza” body and the more conventional open wheel version of the W196.
After the horrific disaster at the 1955 Le Mans 24 hours, both the Renntransporter and the W196 would disappear for good when Mercedes quit competitive racing. But both remained engrained in motorsport folklore.
Norev have done a brilliant job of modelling both, the W196R is simple but effective. The Renntransporter suffers a slight case of Greenlight style “truck wheel” but really, the cool factor outweighs any negatives. This is a casting that came along before any Hot Wheels Team Transport and is easily as desirable.
It’s also a great base for any other classic Mercedes models in your collection, case in point this 300SL from the UCC Coffee Mercedes set. It’s a replica of the car that finished 5th in the 1955 Mille Miglia and it’s my favourite car out of the 5 car collection.
Norev’s models should be a welcome addition to anyone’s collection, especially if you lean towards European cars. There’s a large range of well finished models out there at affordable prices. Needless to say I have a lot more of their diecast on my wish list, and I hope to be able to share their work with you more in the future.