21 July 2020
Solido 1969 Citroën Type HY - Vespa
Introduced in 1947, Citroën's simple workhorse was produced, largely unchanged, right up until production finally ceased in 1981. A change to a square rear wheel panel design in 1969 is modelled here.
Official figures state that 473,289 left the European factories during the 34 year run. A small number of right-hand-drive versions were produced at Slough in the UK.
Called "H" because it was the eighth type being evaluated for the project, it had a unitary body with no separate frame, front independent suspension, and front-wheel drive. For a
commercial van, this particular combination provided unique benefits – a flat floor very close to the ground, and a 6 ft standing height inside. The HY designation was quickly adopted for standard production to differentiate from other body variants.
The distinctive corrugated bodywork used throughout the period of production was inspired by German Junkers aircraft - Henry Ford also adopted this construction for the Ford Tri-Motor passenger aircraft. The ribs added strength without adding weight, and required only simple, low-cost press tools. The flat body panels were braced on the inside by box sections, at right angles to the ribs.
Solido's casting is a faithful replication of this most iconic of French commercial vehicles. The diecast body panels are almost a work of art in themselves, with those corrugated lines looking absolutely spot on. Both cab doors and the rear tail hatch open - if only the side door could slide and the lower rear doors did too, but then the price point would have been significantly higher as a result, no doubt, so this is a very good compromise.
The paint finish is excellent and the Vespa logos are beautifully printed. The application of the lower lettering to the corrugated panels on the sides is by way of a vinyl sticker.
At 1/18 scale, it's a large model and it represents amazing value, especially with the opening features. Being a self-confessed Francophile and a bit of a Citroënista, the editor just had to buy this one, and two same-scaled Maisto Vespa scooters to go with it, as you can see below.