Diecast models of South-east Asian public transport vehicles

07 January 2011
imports_CCGB_dsc-3119_19938.jpg Diecast models of South-east Asian public transport vehicles
David Wright remembers the interesting vehicles and their diecast counterparts from his latest holiday. ...
Diecast models of South-east Asian public transport vehicles Images

Taxi, please! - Travelling South-east Asian style

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Do you know how it is for us model car enthusiasts as we tour around in countries and cities new to us? Well, we spot all the different cars that are not found in the UK! Sound familiar?

The Thai tuk tuk
On my recent visit to Thailand, both to Bangkok and other cities, I was warned off the tuk tuks as they were called a ‘rip off’.

So, intrigued, I avoided the ride, but began checking out the details, the background history and their modus operandi!

It seems that, collectively, they are part of the auto rickshaw family and are variously known as tuk tuk, trishaw, auto, rick, autorick or rickshaw according to which country you are visiting.

The tuk tuk gets its name from the rhythmic beat of its solid little two-stroke engine. It’s operated for both private use and as a vehicle for hire.

Auto rickshaws can be found in many Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand as well as some African countries such as Ethiopia and in some parts of Egypt.

An auto rickshaw is usually characterised by a sheet-metal body or open frame resting on three wheels, a canvas roof with drop-down sides, a small cabin in the front of the vehicle for the driver – sometimes called an ‘auto-wallah’ – and seating space for up to three passengers (in theory!) in the rear.

They are generally fitted with an air-cooled scooter version of a two-stroke engine, with handlebar controls instead of a steering wheel. Many auto rickshaws follow the original design of the Piaggio Ape C, from 1956, which was based on the Vespa.
In Thailand, as elsewhere, modern saloon cars perform taxi duties, yet it seems the tuk tuk has a special place for adventurous tourists.

*This is an excerpt of the article 'Taxi, please! - Travelling South-east Asian style' first published in Diecast Collector's February issue. To see which issues of Diecast Collector are available to buy online, click here.

*Diecast Collector is a monthly magazine which focuses on all types of diecast models from Dinky Toys to Oxford Diecast