Siam Di Tella

Siam Di Tella was an automobile  manufacturer in Argentina founded in 1911 by Torcuato di Tella. It originally produced bread making machines until the 1920s when the company began to produce fuel dispensers.

In 1930 di Tella converted his new factory in Buenos Aires to produce industrial machinery and home appliances. In 1935 under license from Westinghouse the company began making commercial freezers and in 1948 began producing household refrigerators.

In 1948, 11,000 units annually were produced and by 1958 the yearly production rose to 70,000 units. By the 1960s, Siam di Tella had 13 manufacturing facilities that employed 9,000 workers. Di Tella also expanded into manufacturing motorcycles and motor vehicles.

After the death of Torcuato di Tella in 1948, Siam di Tella gained a licensing agreement with Lambretta, a motor scooter maker, to initially import 2,000 obsolete model A’s that failed to sell in Italy. The license expanded into producing LD models and an Li/TV Series 2 variants, with around 200,000 units sold by 1970 when production of the model stopped.

Automobile manufacturing began in the early 1960s when a license was obtained from the British Motor Corporation and the Siam di Tella 1500 began production.

After the 1500, the Traveler station wagon and the Argenta pick-up were produced. Siam’s vehicle line was shut down in 1966 with a total of 64,477 vehicles produced. The automobile facility was sold to Industries Kaiser Argentina.

After the shutdown of the automobile production, Siam di Tella focused on appliance production and industrial machinery. However, growing debt acquired from their automobile venture, initiated a gradual partnership with the Argentine government. Eventually being absorbed in 1972.

From then, the company expanded into exporting refrigerators and began producing transformers. Siam was unable to compete with other appliance importers and with the national financial collapse of the early 1980s, Siam’s factories were sold by the government in 1986.

In 1991, Newsan in a partnership with Sanyo acquired a small appliance and parts facility and the remaining Siam employees formed a company called Julian Moreno CIAM Cooperative, Ltd in 1997. They resumed manufacturing appliances in 2002 with around 200 workers and in 2012 Newsan reintroduced the SIAM refrigerator line.

Image Caption: Siam Di Tella 1500. Credit: Roberto Fiadone/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)