Norev Mini-Jets - Diecast with a French Flair

Posted by: Doug in Member Blogs

The Norev story is primarily one of 1:43 scale plastic and diecast vehicles. The Norev Mini-Jets represent a small part of Norev production offered in 1:64-1:66 scale. It is the story of these small-scale Norev miniatures that is told here.

Norev began in 1953 and was founded by M. Veron, who simply spelled his name backwards to choose a name. Located in Villeurbane, France, near Lyon, Norev always focused on French vehicles. It was not until the late 1970's that the first small-scale cars appeared. According to Dr. Edward Force in his Classic Miniature Vehicles Made in France, 1991, "In the late seventies a number of 1:66 scale Schuco diecast models appeared in France under the Norev name, still bearing their 800 series Schuco numbers. By 1982, the survivors among them had been re-numbered as pare of a 400 series of "Matchbox-size" models." The box art for the Mini-Jets is represented in the four examples shown here (top-left, clockwise: Porsche 911S, Porsche 917, Alfa 6 and 1979 Ford Mustang). The early Norev boxes state that Norev "c'est le champion des voitures miniature."

There were 24 of the Schuco-based Norev models according to Dr. Force. Many were issued as 'fast-wheel' with a 301 prefix before the 800 number. These were:

#809 BMW 2002, 1:66, 1975-82 - #813 Porsche 911S, 1:66, 1975-82 - #816 Ford Capri 1700 GT, 1:66, 1975 - #839 Opel Manta, 1:66 1975 -
#854 Porsche 917, 1:66, 1975 - #861 Renault 17 Coupe, 1:66, 1975 - #871 Renault 5, 1:66, 1975-79 - #878 Matra Simca Bagheera, 1:66, 1975 -
#882 Citroen GS, 1:66, 1975-82 - #883 Citroen DS21, 1:66, 1975-82 - #884 Peugeot 504, 1:66, 1975-82 - #885 Citroen Dyane, 1:66, 1975-82 -
#886 Renault 12, 1:66, 1975-82 - #887 Ligier JS2, 1:66, 1975-82 - #890 Peugeot 604, 1:66, 1975-82 - #891 Citroen CX, 1:66, 1975-82 -
#894 Renault 4L, 1:66, 1975-82 - #895 Renault 30TS, 1:66, 1975-82 - #896 Peugeot 604, 1:66, 1975-82 - #975 Maserati Boomerang, 1:66, 1975 -
#977 Mercedes-Benz Ambulance, 1:66, 1975-82 - #? Porsche 914, 1:66, 1975 - #? Renault 4L fire, 1:66, 1975 - #? Simca 1308 GT, 1:66, 1975

...
Left to right: Ligier JS2, Citroen GS, Bertone Trapeze and BMW 633CSi

The 400 series Mini-Jets number from 400 to 468 and include many of the earlier 800 series. One unique characteristic of these later Mini-Jets is that the base-plate data often (not always) reads from the front to the rear of the car, rather than from side-to-side. Most are 1:66 scale although some of the newer models are closer to 1:64 scale. The 400 series includes:

#400 Citroen BX - #401 Ligier JS2 - #402 Matra Bagheera - #404 Citroen GS - #405 Peugeot 504 - #406 Citroen CX - #407 Renault 12 -
#408 Citroen Dyane - #409 Renault 4L - #410 Mercedes-Benz Ambulance - #412 Bertone Trapeze - #413 Renault 30TS - #414 Peugeot 604 -
#415 Simca 1308GT - #416 BMW 633CSi - #417 Fiat 1315 - #418 Porsche Turbo - #419 Renault 14 - #420 Peugeot 305SR -
#421 Simca/Talbot Horizon - #422 Renault 18GS - #423 Volvo 264 - #424 Ford Mustang - #425 Mercedes-Benz 280SE - #428 Citroen Visa -
#429 VW Golf - #430 Alfa Romeo 6 - #431 Peugeot 505 - #432 Fiat Ritmo - #437 Renault Fuego - #438 Ford Escort - #439 Talbot Solara -
#450 Renault 9, #451 Citroen BX
Numbers 433-36 and the remaining numbers through 468 are trucks and commercial vehicles (with the exceptions of #450 and #451). Dr. Force's book provides an excellent description of these vehicles.

...
Left to right: Citroen BX, Renault Fuego, Renault 9 (AMC Alliance) and Citroen Visa

What if anything sets the Norev Mini-jets apart from other European small-scale diecast? There are some cars rarely done in this scale offered as Mini-Jets. The Ligier JS2 is one of my favorites as it is powered by the same Maserati 4-cam V6 that is in my real Citroen SM. This car was a top-ten finisher at Le Mans in 1974. The Alfa Romeo 6 is also rarely seen in any scale. One Swede, the Volvo 264 and one American, the 1979 Ford Mustang are offered. The Renault 9 was also offered as the AMC Alliance in the U.S. and the Porsche 917 is actually stamped as 'Champion du Monde 1971' on the base.

Some good news is that Norev is still active, producing a range of 1:43 scale cars. A Norev Web site is at this time under construction <http://www.Norev.fr>. According to one of TofTC's French readers, Frederic Robert, "Yes Norev still exists, The company is now managed by a young man who has decided to re-master many old Norev models. Many French models in 1:43 scale from the 60's and 70's are manufactured . They are a little bit expensive (price range is $30-50 US) but they are real miniatures not children's toys like before." Frederic goes on to note that a Norev Collector Club is active. Interested collectors may contact Herve GROSS president of the Club Norev at: <[email protected]>. Perhaps the new managers at Norev will bring back the Mini-Jets too. For now we will have to search out older Mini-Jets, which certainly offer the collector enough of interest to make their finding worth the effort.

Tags: Vehicles, Tales of Toy Cars

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