Wonders from Wendelstein

04 January 2023
An update on the recently released 1/43 wonders from AutoCult
Wonders from Wendelstein Images

It never ceases to amaze me how diverse and fascinating the monthly roll-out of highly-detailed, resincast models from AutoCult is, and indeed how fresh and appealing the subjects modelled are. So much so that I only have space to take a selective dip into the list of recent models and ones that are perhaps not so well-known because of the limited Swiss market they are made for.

The class of 2022

I find it very hard to pick out particular examples from both the AutoCult and Avenue 43 2022 releases to highlight, just because there are so many and with such a variety of reasons why they attract. We start with the last quarter of the year.

From September, the Porsche 917/20 Designstudie - 1969 (#07025) and the Willys FC-150 PTT - 1956 (#08019). Models of Swiss PTT post vehicles have long been a favourite with diecast model collectors, yet so many have been issues exclusively for sale only in Switzerland. Refreshing then is that this is the second PTT model from AutoCult on general release and both of which are of previously unmodelled Swiss postal vehicles. The first release having been the delightfully modelled Tatra 57B PTT - 1947 (#08017) in October 2021.

From October, two models have fascinating backstories. The classic embodiment of Italian in the Lancia Aprilia Sport Zagato - 1937 (#04036) and, similarly, in quintessentially British way, Frazer Nash Targa Florio - 1952 (#05040). After researching the history of this Frazer Nash, in British Racing Green, it has certainly won a place in my heart as one of my all-time favourite AutoCult models.

From November the interesting, little known,  Wendax WS 750 - 1950, from West Germany (#02029) in the ‘Brands of the Past’ catalogue theme, and the Bayer K 67 – 1967, also from West Germany (#06053), modelling BMWs work with Bayer on a prototype concept of building a car wholly made of plastic.

From December comes the Sir Vival from the USA - 1958 (#06054), designed by Engineer Walter C. Jerome, with some very forward thinking, if oft impractical features. Also the Renault 4 Bertin - 1969 (#03023) designed by Frenchman Jean Bertin and another forward thinking design that was effectively a Smart Car concept ahead of its time. The crowning glory, though, comes in the ‘Set of the Year 2022’ (#99122) with its now traditional coupling of a unique model and the ‘Book of the Year’. The model itself is a car so many readers will recognise as having seen somewhere or other in the past in books and magazines as the Anycar designed by the renowned New York based customiser, Gene Winfield, for Manufactures Hanover Trust Company’s 1971 advertising campaign.

Deliberately missed out of those four months highlights are a small group of commercial vehicles that I think are just outstanding. From back in July, the Swiss Tribelhorn 3to Kettenwagen - 1918 (#11015). From August, two loosely bus-themed releases - the fabulously and intricately-detailed Daimler Dernburg-Wagen - 1907 (#0101) and amazing Renault Type MH 6 Roues - 1924 (#11016). This second model instantly evokes the image and spirit of the French North African expeditions of the 1920s and the rivalry between Renault and Citröen in their battle for the “conquest of the desert”. It is also one of those must-have models, not just because of its historical charisma, but that fact that it is just such a superb replica. Finally, to December, with the equally impressive Tatra T82 Bus - 1937 (#10011) and yet another must-have, thanks to its charm and extensive detailing.

Releases from the Avenue 43 catalogue mustn’t be overlooked – the gorgeous Fiat 2300 S Coupe Speciale Pininfarina - 1964 (#60091) reminds us that there are so many beautiful car designs that never made it to production. The pair of Renault 16 Projet 114 - 1961 (#60088 white / #60089 blue) remind us of how prototype developments are often stepping stone models between existing ranges and those that replaced them. And finally, reaching back to last April,  the Talbot Lago T 150 C Roadster Pourtout - 1937 (#60076).

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Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Binder - 1930 (#05041)

One of the less imposing or immediately eye-catching releases of the year, this French-bodied version typifies the full intention of the lighter weight, shortened-wheelbase, ‘Continental’ derivation of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II. As was the practice of the era, rolling chassis were supplied by Rolls-Royce to approved coachbuilders for completion - in this case the Parisian carrossier Henri Binder, who had a very long association with Rolls-Royce delivering bespoke body styles on chassis as far afield as the USA.

I admit to being slightly biased in favour of sports-bodied Rolls-Royces of this era, with the classic pair of 1/43 Rio #39 and #40 models of the 1931 Phantom II having been amongst my favourite models now for over 50 years. Like those models, and bettering them now in contemporary modelling skills, the AutoCult Binder has such a charismatic front end with that unmistakable bonnet line supporting the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. Detailing of the radiator and its Rolls-Royce emblem, the surround lighting, horns and bumpers are all typical of the finesse of detail AutoCult achieve on its models.

Swiss exclusives

Less well-known are the AutoCult models sold exclusively in Switzerland by Arwico AG under its ACE Collectors Edition branding. As with the AutoCult models made for the the Austrian Car Collection (ACC), the ACE Editions feature vehicle types having distinct local market associations and include an extremely impressive back catalogue of unique 4x4 Swiss lorry types including Saurer, Berna or FBW. These are in addition to the predictable much-favoured local use of Unimogs, together with the similarly favoured Steyr-Puch G-wagens and Pinzgauers. Many, but not all, are offered in Swiss military service guise, including some particularly impressive snow plough versions. My particular favourites of recent releases including a Pinzgauer  710M in this guise - “mit Räumschild” (85.005542), another representing  one used by Feuerwehr Davos (85.005543) and the latest version on the Steyr-Puch GE 230 theme with soft top (85.005539).

For me a very significant additional attraction of AutoCult is the extensive library of PDF leaflets and background information available on its website together with illustrations of many of the models it makes in the Exclusive ranges, including those for Arwico AG. AutoCult aren’t listed as a brand on the Swiss website, its products being hidden under ACE labels, but the packaging boxes are a dead giveaway as to the model's origins.