Volume VIII, Number 5

by Dave Weber and Christian Falkensteiner Images by Doug Breithaupt

During the whole history of motor cars, only very few brand names have ever started with the letter "U". We have been lucky to find one "U" brand which is indeed represented in small scale, but of course this is not enough to fill an article of its own. Therefore this article combines the letters "U" and "V".


This factory located in the city of Ulyanovsk started in 1941 by producing trucks under license from GAZ. It then also produced licensed copies of the GAZ 69 off-road vehicle (the Russian "Jeep"). During the 1960s it developed its own unique off-road vehicle, the UAZ 469, which eventually went into production in 1972. It was mainly made for the army, but civilian versions were also produced, and some were exported to western markets as well. Some descendants of this vehicle are still produced nowadays, alongside a new generation of off-roaders introduced in 1998.

ADP of Germany and Trident of Austria have produced 1:87 scale resin models of the UAZ 469, mostly in military liveries.

VALIANT (US and other countries) 1960-1980

The compact sized Valiant ( A Body) was introduced by Chrysler Corp in the US as a less expensive companion brand name in the Plymouth Division. Although some people may not consider this car to be a separate marque, we place it in this category since the car was made available internationally in many countries throughout the world where Plymouths were not marketed. Instead, some of these cars used the Chrysler identity.

The first Valiants used a boxy "European" style with a semi fastback. The rear trunk lid contained the shape of a spare tire and the automatic transmission was pushbutton controlled. The first cars were all 4 door sedans or station wagons. Later on in the US the well known Barracuda was developed from this marque. The Valiant was dropped in the US in 1976 with the introduction of the Volare model in the Plymouth line. Valiants were also reportedly prominent in New Zealand from 1963-1979 where they were called Chrysler Valiant Chargers, in Australia from 1962-1980, in Argentina from 1962 to approximately 1969, in Brazil in the mid 1970s , in Spain in 1973, in Canada approximately the same period of time as the US and in S Africa where the cars were imported from Canada for a 5 year span. Models produced in small scale consist of only plastic models produced at the onset of toy model manufacturing by Buby in Argentina in 1/64 scale and by Revell in 1/87 scale. Models of other cars originating from the "A Body" have been produced but not as Valiants.

1965 Plymouth Barracuda (Valiant chassis) - Racing Champions


Vauxhall began as Alex Wilson & Company (Steam Engineers) in London in 1857. In 1894 they became the Vauxhall Iron Works. The company moved to Luton in Bedfordshire in 1905. The first Vauxhall car was a single-cylinder 5 hp car with tiller steering, but soon thereafter the company turned to building expensive cars for the wealthy end of the market. After WW I selling its products became increasingly difficult. Its weak financial position led to a takeover by General Motors in 1925. From then on Vauxhall concentrated on cheaper mass-produced cars similar to the products of its German sister company Opel. During the 1960s and 1970s Vauxhall cars for the European market were also made in Belgium, but eventually Vauxhall lost its brand identity as all individual Vauxhall models were gradually replaced by Opel designs. Nowadays the brand continues to be available in the UK, but offers only badge-engineered Opel models.

Small-scale diecast models of Vauxhall cars have never been very prolific. The most eminent examples are by Matchbox. Other Vauxhall models were made by Zylmex, Corgi Juniors, Lone Star Flyers and Yat Ming.

1914 Vauxhall Prince Henry - Zylmex

VECTOR (US) 1979-1999

Vector Aeromotive Corp was founded by Gerald Wiegert in Venice Calif. . He introduced his first show car in 1972 but did not begin limited production until 7 years later. His product was known as the ultimate supercar and was the epitome of the luxury sports car. The cars were very expensive and featured low to the ground styling similar to the Lamborghini from Italy. Vector headquarters later were resettled in Florida before the firm experienced severe financial difficulties. Hot Wheels produced a model of the Avtech WX-3 in their regular series in 1993.

Vector Avtech WX-3 - Hot Wheels

VELAM (FR) 1955-1959

Velam (short for "véhicule léger à moteur" - light vehicle with an engine) was a French company which manufactured microcars licensed from the Iso Isetta in a part of the Talbot factory at Suresnes. Mechanical components of the Italian original were used, but the body design differed in several respects. Success was limited because "real" cars such as the Citroën 2CV were available at about the same cost.

A 1:43 scale diecast model of the Velam Isetta was made by Quiralu of France. Due to the small size of the real vehicle it would fit well in a small-scale diecast collection. A replica of this model was issued in the 1990s.

VELOREX (CS) 1952-1973

The Velorex company of Solnice is mainly known for its motorcycle sidecars, which are still made nowadays. Besides the same company also produced a very simple three-wheeled microcar mainly intended to be used by disabled persons, powered by a Jawa motorcycle engine. In the early 1970s it was replaced by a new design featuring four wheels, which turned out to be a failure and led to the end of Velorex car production.

The Czech company Artapo produces a resin model of a Velorex three-wheeler in 1:87 scale.

VESPA (FR) 1957-1961

Although developed by Piaggio, the famous Italian producer of motorscooters, the Vespa 400 microcar was built by the French company ACMA in Fourchambault. Perhaps it was assumed that the vehicle would not be able to compete against the ubiquitous small Fiats on the Italian market. In France it enjoyed some success for a while, but eventually sales dropped and production ceased.

The French Dinky branch and Quiralu both made 1:43 scale diecast models of the Vespa 400, and Norev made a plastic version. Again these are suitable for a small-scale diecast collection due to the small size of the real vehicle. The Quiralu model was reissued in the 1990s.


Volvo was founded in Gothenburg by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson as a subsidiary of the Swedish bearings company SKF, from which it was separated later on. Their aim was to build cars as well as trucks more suited to the Scandinavian climate than were US imports. While sales of Volvo cars were mainly restricted to the domestic market through the 1930s, things changed after WW II with the introduction of the PV444, which became a success all over Europe and in the USA. Volvo gained an image of reliability and security by incorporating safety features in their cars ahead of the competition. In 1975 they took over the passenger car division of the Dutch DAF company, which brought them a range of smaller cars as well as an additional factory in the Netherlands. Later on the Dutch factory was run in cooperation with Mitsubishi. Volvo cars were also made in Belgium and Canada. Economical difficulties led to negotiations with Renault which eventually did not result in a merger. Instead the Volvo passenger car division was swallowed by Ford in 1999, who passed on their share of the Dutch factory to DaimlerChrysler.

Small-scale models of Volvo cars have been mainly made by Corgi Juniors, Lone Star Impy, Majorette and Matchbox (plus some far-east copies) and more recently by Hongwell.

Volvo P1800 - Impy Flyer


The original Volkswagen (people's car) was conceived by Ferdinand Porsche in response to the German government's request for a car which should be affordable for everyone. A special factory was erected in the town of Wolfsburg, but just when it was getting ready to start mass production, war broke out, and instead of passenger cars off-road and amphibious vehicles were made for the German army. The proper VW Beetle was put into production after the war and became a huge success worldwide, although its layout involving an air-cooled rear engine seemed somewhat unusual. It continued to be made with little changes into the 1970s, when it was gradually replaced by a range of more modern front-wheel drive cars, most notably the VW Golf.

VW continues to be one of the world's foremost producers of mass-market cars. Over the years VWs have been manufactured in many different countries including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Uruguay, the USA, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. In addition VW gained control of many other car companies, starting with Audi and NSU in the 1960s and continuing with Seat and Skoda in the 1990s. In order to gain a foothold in the prestige car market, VW also purchased the exclusive brands of Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.

Due to their immense popularity, models of VW cars, particularly the Beetle, have been made by almost every model manufacturer, and there are many model car collectors specializing in this one brand alone.

VW Beetle Cabriolet - Tomica

VW-PORSCHE (GE) 1969-1975

The VW-Porsche 914 was a sports car which came into being as a joint effort of VW, Porsche and Karmann. It was available with either a VW or Porsche engine fitted in front of the rear axle. The bodies were produced by Karmann. As most sports car fans did not like the design which was radically different from other Porsche models, success of this car was somewhat limited.

Small-scale models of the VW-Porsche 914 were made by Faller in plastic and by Schuco, Playart and Siku in diecast.

VW-Porsche 914-6 - Playart