Siam Di Tella
Founded 1911
Founder(s) Torcuato di Tella
Defunct 1994
Headquarters , Argentina
Products automobiles

Siam Di Tella was an Argentine manufacturing company; the name Siam is an acronym from Sección Industrial Amasadoras Mecánicas.

Early yearsEdit

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 manufacturer.

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, the firm secured a licensing agreement with Italian motor scooter maker Lambretta. This initially consisted of a deal to import 2,000 obsolete model A's that had failed to sell in Italy, 75 of which were donated to Juan Peron's youth group. Contemporary LD models were soon added to the range and in the early 1960's SIAM began producing an Li/TV Series 2 variant. Some of these were exported to Chile and Uruguay. Siambretta production ceased by 1970 with around 200,000 units having been sold. [1]

Automobile productionEdit

Siam Di Tella Argenta - 1959

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[2]. The vehicle became very popular among taxi drivers in Buenos Aires. The 1500 was followed by the Traveller station wagon and the Argenta 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. The automobile production was sold to Industrias Kaiser Argentina[3].

SIAM di Tella División electromecánicaEdit

In the late 1960s, the Electromechanical section of SIAM signed two contracts, which would ultimately allow it to produce heavy machinery in the country. The first, with the US company WABCO (Westinghouse Air Brake CO), for the production of three models of WABCO motor graders at its Monte Chingolo plant: these were 440,[4] 444 [5] and 660.[6] This contract was in force until the mid-80's, where, since 1984, SADE (Sociedad Argentina de Electrificación) took over the production of 130 H [7] and 160 H [8] motor graders under the SIAM SADE brand until the decade Of 90 '.

The second was with the International Harvester, for the production of the front loader IH Payloader H60B,[9] which extended until the end of the 1970s.


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.


The Siambretta tooling was sold to a firm called Franco Brothers who used it to produce a three-wheeled truck called the Frambretta. Low-scale production of this has continued into the 21st century.[1]

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.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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