Template:List of Siam di Tella Models Siam Di Tella was an Argentine manufacturing company; the name Siam is an acronym from Sección Industrial Amasadoras Mecánicas.


Founded in 1911 by Torcuato di Tella, an Italian Argentine immigrant, the firm began as a manufacturer of bread making machines, which came into great demand by local bakeries in the 1920s. Di Tella's friendship with the Director of the newly-established State oil concern, YPF, helped result in a contract to build their fuel dispensers and Siam di Tella's growth into a leading Argentine manufaturer.

A military coup in 1930 resulted in the contract's rescission, prompting di Tella to convert his new factory south of Buenos Aires into the manufacture of industrial machinery and home appliances (particularly refrigerators), becoming the largest, domestically-based industrial conglomerate in Latin America. Following the founder's death in 1948, his firm secured a licencing agreement with Italian motor scooter maker Lambretta, which led to the production of the Siambretta (President Juan Perón was the owner of a number of these). Reforms by way of a Law of Foreign Investment and an Automobile Industry Framework drafted by adviser Rogelio Frigerio and enacted by President Arturo Frondizi encouraged Siam to venture into the auto industry. A license obtained from the British Motor Corporation led to the Siam di Tella 1500; based on the British BMC Farina series of the early 1960s. The car followed the specifications of the BMC car in most respects, but was fitted with a version of the 1489 cc B-Series engine that featured a mechanical fuel pump in place of the unreliable electrical unit supplied to the British car's buyers[1]. The vehicle became very popular among taxi drivers in Buenos Aires. The 1500 was followed by the Traveller station wagon and the Argentina pick-up truck, though the proliferation of domestic subsidiaries of U.S. and European automakers led to the shutdown of Siam's vehicle line, in 1966; in all, around 28,000 units had been produced between 1962 and 1966.

Siam Di Tella focused on its appliance and machinery units, though losses stemming from its defunct vehicle unit led to growing debts with the State small business lender, the BANADE. Paying the lender with company stock in lieu of cash, Siam gradually made the Argentine government its partner. Another military coup in 1976 and the free trade and deregulatory policies enacted by the last dictatorship's Economy Minister, José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, affected the company adversely, however. Unable to compete with a flood of imported appliances in the late 1970s and beset by a national financial collapse in the early 1980s, Siam di Tella's factories are gradually sold off. A son of the founder's, Guido di Tella, was named Foreign Relations Minister by President Carlos Menem, in 1991; but a renewed boom in imports led to the company's final liquidation, in 1994.

An enthusiastic and active worldwide owners club called the Cambridge-Oxford Owners Club caters for the Siam Di Tella 1500 and Magnette cars, Di Tella commercials and their UK-built four and six cylinder sisters. The club aims to keep the cars on the road, provides advice, spares and a social forum for enjoying the cars.

Discontinued Models[]

See Also[]

Template:Siam di Tella

External Links[]

  1. "A Million from the Argentine". Autocar 127 (nbr 3731): pages 30–31. 17 August 1967.