Category Archives: BMC

Retromobile 2019

By Fabrizio Panico

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

Once again February brings us back to Paris, both for Retromobile, and for the traditional auctions of Artcurial, RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams, a visual overdose enriched by a certain elegance, even if you start to perceive some slight fogging due to the changing tastes of the public. On the other hand it is for the market to dictate the show and not our personal interests.

This year Paris greeted us with windy days, but fortunately without the snow of last year. Alas the defections of the big automakers continue from their previous showcase of the Champs Elysées. First Citroen, Mercedes and Toyota left, now Peugeot has left its showroom too, leaving only Renault in the place that was a symbol of French motoring. How much longer before there are no showrooms on the Champs Elysées?

As usual, the Parisian show has attracted fans from all over the world. It is rich in novelties, celebrations of anniversaries, and exhibitions dedicated to specific brands. Even here there were alternate presences and absences: FCA is back, the absence of Mercedes-Benz is alas confirmed. Brand and/or model clubs attend in abundance, although their grouping together in Hall 3 reduces their presence a little.

Big celebrations took place of the centenary of Citroen with a great review of cars and prototypes, unfortunately narrow corridors meant the exhibits were difficult to walk around. Peugeot was a little poorly represented , maybe we had become used to better shows in previous years, whilst Renault chose to devote itself entirely to the ‘Turbo Years’, with the result of a series of cars of relative ‘aesthetic’ interest.

The general impression was of a reduced presence of real “vintage” cars in flavor of newer ‘classics’, which are evidently the most requested by the public today. This is the market! Fortunately the Teuf Teuf Club and the Compiègne Museum exhibited a rich collection of De Dion Bouton vehicles, while a specific exhibition was dedicated to the Bédélia, a classic of French cyclecars.

Another ‘gem’ on show was the monstrous Berliet T100, a giant destined for the African deserts and whose journey from Lyon to Paris constituted an adventure, considering its dimensions are ‘out of the norm’.

A rich collection of motorcycles from Gnome & Rhone was on show, as well as a display of the Citroen DS Chapron, in all their variants. Honda was celebrating the twenty years of the S2000 (too new in the Author’s opinion to be at such a show). The long suspension bridge between Hall 1 and 2 housed the Mini exhibition, celebrating their 60 years. There was an interesting cutaway Mini, but perhaps they could have included more variants : the Moke and the Mini Marcos appeared a bit lonely. As usual, the Saumur museum presented two tanks, a Sherman and a Panzer IV.

After lookinmg at all the displays there were plenty of opportunities to spend your money. There were many Dealers with their “jewels” and of course scale models, spare parts, books, and accessories. Add to that the wide range of goods from the many artists and artisans.

Again a show not to be missed where there is so much on offer that everyone can find lots of interest. The photographs below show some of the highlights of the show.

Citroën – 100 Years Display


Citroen GS Camargue Bertone 1972


Renault 1000kg Voltigeur 1956


Delahaye 135 M Figoni Falaschi 1946


BMW 320 Group 5 Junior Team 1977


Alfa Romeo 750 Competizione 1955


Lancia Rally 037 1982


Abarth 1000 monoposto record 1960


Jensen CV8 Mark III 1965


Classic early Léon Bollée advertising material


Wolseley Hornet Mark III 1969


Gnome Rhone motorcycle and side car outfit


Bédélia BD2 1912


Tiffany Golden Spirit 1986


Alfa Romeo 8c 2900 B Berlinetta Touring 1939


Scale Models Club display on the theme – Peugeot


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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