Category Archives: BMC

BMC outside the UK

By John F. Quilter

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Editors Note: John wrote this in response to the recent article posted on the Siam Di Tella which was a BMC hybrid made in Argentina. The article can be found here.

Here’s a little info on two BL products not made in the UK.

British Leyland and its predecessor BMC had many overseas operations over the decades. Here are two products of their overseas affiliates. The BMC J4 van, which was also badged as a Morris and Austin in the UK, was made in Spain by their operation there known as Sava.

This operation also made many of Leyland larger trucks as well. The J4 van, and there was a pickup and mini bus versions as well came after the J2 and before the Sherpa. Much of the sheet metal on the Sherpa was carried over but the engine was moved forward under a short bonnet rather than being between the seats as it was in the J4. The engine was BMC’s 1622cc petrol engine or a 1500cc diesel. Both part of BMC’s “B” series four cylinder engine range. This van is apparently made by Ixo and mine is done in a BMC service livery from a dealer in France. There are other liveries showing up on eBay as well. The J4 makes a good shelf item along with my Sherpa van (plus pickup and mini bus custom creations) and J2 by Oxford Diecast.

The second vehicle is from TRAX in Australia, a Morris Major Elite. This unique to Australia car, was essentially the centre section of a Riley 1.5 or Wolseley 1500 but Leyland Australia added a longer boot for more capacity and a longer front clip perhaps to balance off the look. It also used the 1622cc engine which was a step up from the UK produced Riley and Wolseley. The model is in TRAX’s limited range and is in resin. Available in two colours, the blue and white being one often seen back when the cars were new. The photo below shows the Elite along with its cousins the Wolseley and Riley both done in Brooklin’s Lansdowne range.


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Siam Di Tella 1500

By Maz Woolley

Text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

BMC (British Motor Corporation) made their cars at plants around the world, particularly in the English speaking countries with close ties like Australia. They also licensed makers in other countries to produce vehicles using their body shells and components.

We are all familiar with Australian cars like the Morris Major that were based on BMC vehicles sold in the UK but heavily changed to suit local tastes.  Less familiar are the cars made by  Siam Di Tella in the Argentine.  A pickup based upon the Austin A50 (Pre-Farina) called the Argenta seems to have been made initially and was followed by the 1500 series which include a car, traveller and pickup (again called the Argenta) which combined a Farina Riley 4/72 front end with an Austin A55 rear and was fitted with a 1500cc B series engine later uprated to 1600cc in line with UK production.

Initially cars were made from knocked down kits but local production soon replaced that.  In the later years of production a Magnette was offered with an MG style front and rear end, a unique bonnet ornament. A stylised ‘S’ badge was fitted where an MG badge would have been  on the radiator but in later years an MG badge was used.

Given that we have yet to see a budget diecast Riley 4/72 it is amazing that Ixo/DeAgostini has created a Siam Di Tella 1500 Saloon and Taxi in their partworks series. We have of course had a lovely 4/72 from Silas Models but this is rather more fragile and expensive.

I read a review of the model that suggested that the Austin A55 mould used by Altaya may have been the basis for this model but a close examination shows that this casting is different in particular it is correctly narrower than the A55 which was too wide.

Group shots of the Altaya A55 [right], Silas 4/72 [left] and Siam Di Tella [middle] cars show the differences between the models.

The model of the Siam Di Tella looks good when compared to photographs which can be viewed on the web. The shape is convincing as are the front and back ends with all their inserted parts. Unique Siam Di Tella badging is printed neatly.

Inside the black moulding has full door car details and a really nice moulded dashboard and the large steering wheel is excellently modelled with the chrome horn ring included. No details are picked out which is a shame as this means most people will never appreciate the detail which is there.

The model leads me to musing on what might be. The 1:43 Vanguards range included excellent Austin Cambridge A60 saloon and its equivalent Morris Oxford. And since then Oxford Diecast has produced an Austin A60 to 1:76 scale. This leaves an opportunity for Oxford Diecast or Corgi to make the Riley, MG, and Traveller versions which would be very popular in 1:43 as well as 1:76. Or do we have to wait for someone to commission PCT Industries to create them?


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