What is this, a repost of last Tuesday’s TTT? Mais non! This was the French answer to the succes of the Unimog! And the Unimog 401 definitely was more “edged” than this but in 1965 the Unimog was in it’s 406 phase already: Also very “round”. So what is this: A Renault Estafette on steroids? Almost.
It’s a 1965 Sinpar Castor 1200D. And you might have heard of Sinpar before on a French Friday as I mentioned them for adding 4wd variants of the Renault Rodeo. But who, or what was Sinpar anyway?
La Société INdustrielle de Production et d’Adaption Rhodanienne. That was the abbreviation Pierre Demeester came up with when the brand revived in 1946. Pierre was son of Lèon Demeester, founder of Demeester & Lamberjack. A company building competition Voiturettes using DeDion engines. But that firmname was changed to Sinpar before WWI ended the company’s existence. And Sinpar was no abbreviation back then: It just was Latin for “Sans Pareil”. Without Equals.
After WWII the “new & improved” Sinpar became a 4x4 specialist. Mainly using Renault components. And the cooperation was that “close” Renault ended up selling Sinpar products as their own. Not just 4x4's: The reknown open-top R4 Plein Air was built at Sinpar’s Chassieu-factory as well.
The Castor however was a tractor. There were roadlegal versions as well (“MC”, for Mini Camion or, in English, “Mini Truck”) but the Castor really was meant for use off-road. The Estafette cabin came from Renault directly. But... Renault had used thicker steel for the panels. And therefor you still can find Castors in the wild intact where most Estafettes have rotted away.
Those cabins came by truck to Sinpar and were mounted on the chassis. Engine-wise there were 3 options, two diesels (55 or 75hp) and a gasoline (68hp) engine. Of course all kinds of coaches were offered and it was used by farmers, army and, like the Unimog, the local railservices. It could come with an extra porthole in the door. The list of options for such a coachbuild is endless of course.
It was produced from ‘65 to ‘77. And not nearly as successful as the Unimog (which already reached a productionnumber of over 100k in 1966). It really is l‘Unimog Francaise to me.
The model is a Universal Hobbies 1/43. It was part of a series of agricultural vehicles you could get at magazine stands. Quite popular in France, most were “sold out” quite quickly. This Castor is nr. 89 in this series and it’s slightly over 11 euros IIRC.
And the details are really good. The treaded tires. The differentials. The drifeshaft. I really wouldn’t know how these actually looked but it all seems pretty realistic to me! Nice detail is the “26" on that license plate: The last two characters of French license plates tell in which département, region, the car is registered. 26 if for the Drôme area, a region in the French Alps in which you can totally imagine someting like the Castor being used.
C’est ca! C’est mon anniversaire aujourd’hui. Une Vendredi Francaise extra-ordinaire! Bon Week-end! And I promise not to do an orange car/truck for a while ;-)