Basic Motoring in Small-Scale
by Doug Breithaupt

Kubelwagen by Playart

VW 181 by Siku #1032

Honda Vamos by Tomica #55
No frills motoring has been a basic component of military transportation for the past 80 years. True, 'Black Jack' Pershing pursued Poncho Villa in a 1912 Cadillac but he was a general. Regular soldiers needed transport that was strong, simple and easy to replace.

World War II saw the use of two such vehicles. The Kubelwagen was a military version of the new 'Volks' wagen car designed by Hitler and Dr. Porsche. The Willys Jeep was the American counterpart. Playart did the Kubelwagen and more recently, Johnny Lightning has done an excellent WWII Jeep, complete with 50 caliber gun.

Following the war, many former soldiers and weekend warriors found the surplus of these basic vehicles to their liking, Anyone who worked in the outdoors saw the utility of these ' go anywhere' vehicles. Doors and top were not essential and forget about most other creature comforts as well.

The Jeep went into civilian clothes in short order. Willys, AMC and now Chrysler have offered their versions of this war-bred workhorse. One of my favorite toy versions is the regular-wheel Matchbox model shown here.

In the 1960's, VW revived the Kubelwagen as the VW 181. In North America it was known as the 'Thing'. While it did not challenge the Jeep for sales volume, it had modest success worldwide due to a low price and good utility. Siku did the VW 181 and even matched the colors of the Matchbox Jeep.

Other countries have offer basic transportation. The Honda Vamos makes the VW 181 and Jeep look like luxo-cruisers. The built in roll-bar is a nice touch. Tomica provides us with the Vamos. Renault took the doors and top off the 4CL and created the JP4 while it looks sporty, this is no hot rod. You can figure 0-60 mph in all these models with a minute hand. Majorette offered the JP4, with a surf board (removed here for a better view). Too bad no one did the Fiat Jolly with it's wicker seats. The Mini Moke or Citroen Mehari would be other nice additions to this 1:64 scale basic motoring brigade.

Willys Jeep by Johnny Lightning #065

Willys Jeep by Matchbox #72

Renault JP4 by Majorette #252