25 October 2021
Never lost for things to talk about, Rick Wilson delves into his stash of collectables.
Hachette’s superb Autobus & Autocars du Monde partwork series has certainly brought us some excellent models, and this has to be one of my favourites – the Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama tourist coach. At 1/43 scale, it is rather sizeable, but it definitely deserves its place in my display cabinet.
Commissioned by Paris sightseeing company, Cityrama, it was conceived and built by French coachbuilding company, Currus, in the late 1950s. Using the basic Citroën U55 truck chassis as a starting point, the styling of incredible body was clearly influenced by science fiction comic books of the era – and it is so outrageous that it works perfectly! The large glass areas are perfect for maximising viewing opportunities, and the top of the upper deck retracts in sections, being stored underneath the striking red rear ‘wing’. Each seat had its own integrated speaker system to play pre-recorded commentary in several languages.
These amazing coaches proved to be hugely popular, and regularly appeared in movies that were made in Paris during the 1960s – Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le Métro (1960), Gérard Oury's Le Corniaud (1965), and Shakti Samanta’s An Evening in Paris (1967) being three good examples of the coach’s stardom.
As you can imagine at this scale, it makes for an impressively large model. Released as No 9 in the series by Hachette, the body is largely plastic, due to the expanse of window area, and is fixed to a sturdy diecast chassis.
Hachette still has many of the back issues of the series for sale, but No 9 sold out some time ago. Do not despair, though, as these regularly appear on ebay. Most are based in France, where the partwork was sold, but several have made it to these shores. Expect to pay between £30 and £40, if this French beauty tickles your fancy.