N Scale Cars! Part 2!

Almost four years ago I wrote a blog post on my then collection of N Scale cars*, which just so happens to have been one of the most popular posts on all of Quinntopia!
              * "N Scale" being used loosely here as some of these are from Japan and are a slightly larger 1:150 or from the UK and 1:148 'scale', although I don't see a horrendous difference once on the layout.

So now that its 2013 I thought I would provide an update on some of my N Scale cars with the sole purpose of sharing information, opinions and thoughts about this fun and relatively inexpensive area of the hobby!

In fact, given how inexpensive these little cars are (usually, not always), its easy to assemble a nice little collection fairly easily, so I'll break this post up into two posts!

Also....remember that these cars are REALLY small and the photos of these vehicles are like 50 times larger than what your eye would normally see! So details look bad, tiny fibers look like cables, and bits of dust look like boulders!  Its like Fantastic Voyage all over again!

I.M.U. / Euro Modell
I.M.U. was a small European manufacturer that made an interesting range of vehicles based on European prototypes apparently based off old Wiking molds?  I first got exposed to these models a couple years ago when I bought a lot of used N scale cars off of eBay which include several I.M.U/Euro Modell and Marks cars I haven't seen before.  The problem with identifying these models is that they have no markings at all, so its a bit of a puzzle!  I think the company is now called Euro Modell, however all the packaging I've seen for these models still says I.M.U., so I don't know.

Below is an unidentified (Trabant maybe?) vehicle which may or may not be I.M.U. plus a Citroen DS (the sporty green car!) and a Citroen HY van.
One of the few Volvo's in N scale is also an I.M.U. model; the blue/purple vehicle on left is a Volvo "Buckel", while the vehicle on the right is the unmistakable Citroen 2CV.
But its not just plastic, IMU also makes several Ferrari models in die-cast metal!  Again, there are no markings on the cars, but as I ordered this one new, it came in an official I.M.U. case! 
In general, I.M.U models lack moving wheels and details and casting are fairly crude by today's standards, and window glass (for the most part, the die-cast Ferrari is the exception) doesn't sit flush at all.  They are not particularly cheap either (the die cast ones are fairly pricey

A definite step up in quality is Busch.  Windshields, finer printing and overall better appearance - although sadly no turning wheels!  Their range seems really focused on emergency or police vehicles, so they seem somewhat limited in terms of how much you could put on your layout (on the other hand, maybe Quinntopia is just the place where every private citizen drives around in their own little emergency vehicle?).

Below are two different Mercedes models, but they have some cool looking Opels, and a 1950 Buick and Chevy Pick Up that I think a lot of folks would be interested in.  Check out some of their current offerings here.
Taking a bit of a smaller step back we have a couple of sports cars from Fleischmann.  As may not be surprising from the quality of these cars, I suspect they go back to the 1980's or earlier as they are fairly crude.  But you can add a Porsche 911 or a Ford GT to your N scale layout...it'll give all of those people in their emergency vehicles something to chase!
One of my favorites lately are these NSW Sport Prinz models from Herpa!  Better known for their small airplane models, not surprisingly Herpa does a really nice, quality job with their cars.
Herpa has also in recent years taken ownership of Roco's famous Mini-Tanks line of plastic military vehicles (which was primarily an HO scale venture, although they had a few 1/160 items).  So you can now get this terrifically named and looking "UniMog" in a Herpa package (along with some Leopard tanks and M113 APC's if you need them).

Need some buses? Needs some buses for Tourists?  Surprisingly, there seems to be a disproportionate number of buses in N Gauge than cars (Check our the offerings from Mini's, Rietze and others), but a couple of my favorites are these die-cast metal and plastic buses from Kyosho from Japan.  If the name Kyosho sounds familiar is because they are probably better known for the Radio Control products than their N gauge models! 
If your road transportation needs are more from the 1950's-1960's era,  and you don't mind a preponderance of Mercedes and other European vehicles (along with primarily German advertising on the trailer sides), then Minis is a great brand to check out.  They make some really beautiful trucks with trailers as well as other commercial vehicles.
They are not limited to just commercial vehicles, as this really sharp, precise VW van demonstrates!

Marks is an interesting company.  Again, a focus on European prototypes, they have some of the most expensive cars in N scale available!  The one 'premium' version I have, is another Volvo. Amazingly similar in some aspects to the much cheaper and cruder plastic version from IMU.  Although the photo does not represent it well, the detail and printing on this rally car Volvo are really sharp.  It also cost me too!  I think this one car was the same price as 3 or 4 cars from other manufacturers.

That's if for "Part 2"!  Part 3 is coming! Thanks for reading!


  1. Interesting post. One of the hardest parts of modeling urban railroading in "contemporary" times in N is finding enough modern cars and trucks to fill out the streets (much of what's out there clearly fits 50s and 60s layouts better).

    I love the VW bus though. That's a timeless design, and would fit any layout.

  2. Great post, again. Your first post about cars steered me towards Mini Metals for my truck needs and some construction equipment. Also, I used your tip about making sure the roads don't go anywhere to keep passenger rail service high! I originally steered away from the pre-lit ebay cars, because they looked poorly lit and leaking light everywhere in the ebay photos, but after seeing them on your new backdrop road, I ordered ten of them. Hope you will "enlighten" us on your technique in part three!

  3. Very nice. With your permission, I'll take inspiration for a similar post - in Italian - on my blog.

  4. Thanks everyone!

    @ Michelle - Hi! Yes, will definitely post more on those cars soon! So far the only part where I have them wired up is on that backdrop section!

    @Scalaenne - I think that would be terrific! There is a lot more to say on this topic that I just don't have the time or resources to cover, plus I always enjoy your posts a lot!

  5. Hi Jerry,

    In your IMU pic, the one on the left is indeed a Trabant. Be aware, though, that IMU's concept of scale is all over the place, some cars are on the large side (Mercedes 280SL), others too small (Mini Cooper). They have nothing to do with Wiking, BTW. The Bettle and Citroen DS moulds are completely different from Wiking's.

    Speaking of IMU, the car on the right in your Fleischmann pic is actually a Ferrari F40 by IMU, not a Fleischmann vehicle. Fleischmann only ever made a small handful of cars (Golf I, Mercedes W201, W126, BMW E23, Audi 100 C2, Opel Rekord E1, Porsche 928, DKW F93, Citroen 2CV - that's it), all in the 80s and never updated their offerings since.

    What's most annoying to me is that everyone seems to like modeling luxury cars, so there is no shortage of Porsches and the like. But hardly anyone carries the most common vehicles on European streets. Try to find an Opel Kadett/Astra or Ford Escort/Focus of any generation (2nd amd 3rd best selling cars in Germany for decades). No French cars at all besides 2CV and DS. Or try to find a Mercedes W123. A 1980s taxi stand at a German railway station is unthinkable without this model.

    PS: You forgot Rietze. ;-)Some nice Audis, delivery vans, buses, etc. Not as pricey as Herpes.


  6. Hi MK! Great comment! A lot of great info there!

    I sort of suspected IMU was all over the place! I had a couple of their older versions of their Mini Cooper (at least that's what it looks like) and it looks more appropriate for Z scale than N! I also have what looks like a Messerschmitt micro car as well! I didn't include either of these in my photos as they are just a bit too weird!

    Thanks for the correction on the misidentified IMU Ford GT! Not sure why I mixed that up with Fleischmann!

    And I totally agree with you on the type of cars being offered! WAY too many luxury vehicles!

  7. Oh yeah, Rietz is coming! ;-)