Volume VIII, Number 1

by Dave Weber and Christian Falkensteiner, images by Doug Breithaupt

Surprisingly, there are only a few "R" marques that have been made available in small scale! This study is developing some interesting trivia. For example, the family trees in the history of the automobile appear from time to time. Rambler existed off and on for over 50 years and can now be recognized as being a predecessor to DaimlerChrysler after many mergers and buyouts over the years! Other marques have similar histories.

RAMBLER (US) 1902- 1913, 1950-1970

During the late 1800s, partners Thomas Jeffery and R P Gormally manufactured Rambler bicycles. Their company was the second largest US bicycle producer. Car manufacturing interest developed in 1900 to produce a motorized 4 wheel vehicle. And by 1902, the efforts led to introduction of their first car; sometimes called the Rambler or "G +J " car. The Rambler name was accepted as the correct marque and production began in Kenosha Wisconsin. This vehicle was advertised as "The right car for the right price" and sales continued to increase up until the marque name change in 1914 . The Thomas B Jeffery Co decided to rename their product as the Jeffery which later became the Nash . In 1950 Nash resurrected the Rambler name to use for their newly announced economical compact car line. This new Rambler continued in production during the merger of Nash and Hudson . Both of these name badges were used on the Ramblers that were produced during the establishment of the emerging American Motors Corp. Thus there were many new Hudson Ramblers in addition the the existing Nash Ramblers.

But after 1957, AMC dropped the Nash and Hudson monikers and all products were called Ramblers until 1970. Even the top of the line Ambassador model carried the Rambler badge!

But in 1970 the AMC cars were assigned new names such as AMX, Javelin and Hornet and the Rambler marque was finally put to rest! Since then, AMC was purchased by Chrysler Corp which then merged with Mercedes- Benz to become DaimlerChrysler. Models of this marque in small scale sizes were made by Johnny Lightning, Tootsietoy and Widea, plus plastic models by Minix.

1960 Rambler Rebel Wagon by Tootsietoy


The Land Rover division of British Leyland introduced the Range Rover as a new kind of off-road vehicle with an emphasis on luxury. This formula has remained successful for more than thirty years and three generations of vehicles, the outward appearance of which has changed only very little. As a section of the Land Rover company, Range Rover has survived several bankruptcies and mergers, finally separated from the Rover passenger car company in 2000 and nowadays belonging to Ford.

Small-scale models of the first generation Range Rover have been made by Matchbox, Corgi, Hot Wheels and Siku in diecast and Herpa in plastic, whereas models of the more recent types are available from Hongwell.

Range Rover - Siku

RELIANT (GB) 1953-2001

Reliant Engineering was founded in 1934 by Tom Lawrence Williams (from the bicycle and motorcycle company Raleigh) in the town of Tamworth. The firm started out making light three-wheeled vans, to which passenger car versions were added after WW II. With the plastic-bodied Regal, Reliant became the most important producer of three-wheeled cars in Europe. From 1964 onward four-wheeled cars were added to the range, including the Scimitar sports wagon. In addition Reliant developed various cars to be produced in other countries, such as Greece, India (Sipani, San), Israel (Sabra, Rom) and Turkey (Anadol). In 1969 Reliant took over its main competitor Bond. During the 1990s the company suffered a series of bankruptcies, which led to the end of the four-wheeled sports cars in 1995, followed by the end of three-wheeler production in 2001. Nowadays the company acts as the UK distributor of microcars by Ligier and Piaggio.

The Corgi Juniors range included a model of a Reliant Scimitar concept car designed by Ogle. While Corgi also made a model of the Reliant TW9 pick-up truck, no small-scale models of three-wheeled Reliant passenger cars are known.

Reliant Ogle Scimitar - Corgi


The company founded by Marcel, Fernand and Louis Renault in Billancourt concentrated on light cars (voiturettes) originally, but quickly diversified into various classes of motor vehicles, including successful racing cars. Eventually it became one of the most prolific French producers of mid-sized cars for the masses. After WW II Renault became a state-owned company, which it remained until 1994. It enjoyed continuous success with a series of popular small cars such as the 4CV, R4 and R5. Over the years Renault cars have been made by subsidiary companies or under license in many different countries such as Argentina (IKA), Australia, Belgium, Brazil (Willys-Overland), Bulgaria, Canada, India, Iran, Ireland, Japan (Hino), Mexico, Portugal, Romania (Dacia), South Africa, Spain (FASA), Turkey (Oyak) and the USA. In the USA Renault controlled the AMC company from 1979 to 1987, at which date it sold out to Chrysler and retired from the North American market while continuing to compete elsewhere. In 1999 Renault took an important step to reinforce its position in the world market by merging with Nissan.

As with the other French brands, the biggest variety of small-scale Renaults is provided by Majorette and Norev, but many other producers have occasionally made Renault models, e.g. Matchbox, Corgi, Hot Wheels, Guisval, Giodi, Polistil and Universal Hobbies.

Renault 17TS - Majorette

REO (US) 1904-1936

This firm was originally called the R E Olds Co and was located in Lansing Michigan. It was founded by Ransom E Olds who had just left the Oldsmobile firm he had previously established. The company name for this new marque was officially changed to REO Car Co later the same year! This name is derived from the founder?s initials! These cars were successfully produced up until the Great Depression. In 1928 a companion less expensive make was also offered. It was called the Wolverine but did not succeed and production ceased the following year. But the REO continued to be manufactured into the mid 1930s. Their final offering featured bodywork from Graham. Although automobile production ceased that same year, the company continued to produce buses and large trucks for many years. In 1957, REO was purchased by White Corp. And in 1967, REO was amalgamated with competitor Diamond T Trucks and the new company became known as Diamond - REO . In 1971 this company was sold and again became an independent truck manufacturer for a number of years. In 1975 the firm was reported to have entered bankruptcy, but trucks made as late as 1988 are shown for sale on different Internet sites. In 1996 at least part of the company was sold by Osterlund of Harrisburg PA to a parts dealer trading as Bill Snyder in Somerset PA. It appears that this firm met a very slow and depressing demise. The only known model of this marque in small scale was made by High Speed with model # 210. It was offered by Readers Digest as a promotional , but unfortunately is no longer in stock at the present time.

RILEY (GB) 1899-1969

Riley started with bicycles in 1890 and moved then on to three-wheeled motor vehicles. In 1902 the first four-wheeled Riley car was made. The company concentrated on light cars including sports versions which enjoyed some success in racing. In 1939 it went into receivership and became a part of the Nuffield group, which in turn became a part of BMC in 1952. During the following years Riley was gradually reduced to just another badge-engineering brand under which the same cars were marketed which were also available from Morris and Wolseley. Soon after the big merger of 1968 which created British Leyland, the new group stopped using the Riley name.

The German company Lion Models produces handmade pewter models of the Mini-based Riley Elf in H0 scale. The only other small-scale Riley we are aware of is a plastic model of the 1930s MPH sports car found in Kinder Surprise eggs, which is apparently a downsized copy of the larger Matchbox Yesteryear model


Car salesman Charles Stewart Rolls and engineer Henry Royce founded their company in the town of Derby with the aim of producing cars to the very highest standards. The famous Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost became known as the "best car in the world" and created a unique reputation which lasts to this day. From WW I onward the company also made aircraft engines, and this part of the business was to overshadow car production most of the time. From 1921 to 1931 Rolls-Royce operated an American car factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, the products of which did not differ much from those made in England. In 1931 Rolls-Royce took over the Bentley brand, and from 1933 onward cars made under both brands were very similar. After WW II production moved from Derby to Crewe. The aircraft engine and car businesses were separated in 1973, with the car business eventually being taken over by the aircraft company Vickers in 1980. In 1998 the company was sold on and split between the new owners VW and BMW. VW took control of the Bentley brand and the factory at Crewe, whereas the Rolls-Royce brand went to BMW, who started producing the new Rolls-Royce Phantom in a new factory at Goodwood in 2003.

Small-scale diecast models of Rolls-Royce cars have mainly been made by Matchbox, with others coming from Impy, Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning, Lintoy, Tomica etc.

1964 Silver Cloud III by Impy

ROSENGART (FR) 1928-1955

This firm was founded at Neuilly-sur-Seine by Lucien Rosengart (who had been associated with both Citroën and Peugeot before) to produce the Austin Seven under license. This was only the starting point for independent developments, and from 1933 onward a line of larger front-wheel drive cars was added which were first based on the Adler Trumpf, later on the Citroën 11CV. Production of outwardly modernized versions of these cars was resumed after WW II, but the quantities made turned out to be too small for production to remain profitable. The last vehicle made at the Rosengart factory was a microcar branded Marathon, which was not very successful either.

Matchbox made a model of an early Rosengart in 1992 as part of a three-piece Models of Yesteryear set containing variations of the Austin Seven. Although in 1:43 scale, these models are small enough to be regarded as small-scale diecasts.


First established in 1861 at Coventry, this company originally made sewing machines and bicycles. As a car producer, Rover made small and mid-sized models with a focus on better quality yet higher prices and smaller quantities compared with the competition. After WW II production was moved to Solihull. In 1948 Rover broke away from its rather conservative image by introducing the P4 series with drastically redesigned modern bodywork. At the same time the Land Rover line of off-road vehicles came into being. Experiments with gas turbine engines did not lead to production cars eventually. Another radically new design was the P6 series introduced in 1964. After taking over Alvis in 1966, Rover became a part of the newly formed British Leyland group in 1968. Thanks to its quality image, Rover was the brand chosen to eventually survive among many other formerly independent brands which were by and by discontinued during the 1970s and 1980s. Thus the former Austin factory at Longbridge turned into the main Rover factory. From 1982 onward Rover collaborated with Honda but was taken over by BMW in 1994. Suffering heavy losses, BMW gave up Rover in 2000. While the Land Rover section was sold to Ford, the passenger car section became British-owned again for a while and was eventually purchased by the Chinese Shanghai group in 2004. While in the meantime cars made by Tata in India are sold under the Rover brand in Europe, it is expected that these will be replaced by Chinese cars in the future.

Small-scale diecast models of Rover cars have been made by Matchbox, Corgi, Budgie, Playart, Giodi and others. However, this does not include any models of cars from the post-Honda era, which are totally neglected by the model manufacturers.

Rover P6 by Playart