¡Viva Argentina! SIAM Di Tella Argenta is the Riley Pick-Up that Never Was

As if the Riley 4/72 wasn’t obscure enough for our North American friends, Sección Industrial Amasadoras Mecánicas Di Tella, in a fit of revolutionary brilliance worthy of Bolivar himself, created the Argenta. And it was good. You see, Riley never made a pick-up version of the 4/72, for reasons unknown to science or common sense. This is too bad – they might have stood out a little in the crowded, confusing BMC range. Was Wolsey the top-of-the-line marque, or was it Riley? Did it matter, as they were all rebadged Austins? Frankly, I’m getting a headache trying to sort it all out, and eventually the market got sick of it too and Riley was resigned to that very large and British dustbin filled with failed dreams and tinworm. Enter the South American auto industry, fond of licensing bizarre foreign designs to give them long and distinguished afterlives (see also the Argentine Ford Falcon, in production until 1991). SIAM Di Tella had made a name for themselves producing bread-making machines, survived a military coup, and was cranking out Lambretta scooters by the bushel when the license for the Riley 4/72 design fell into their diverse laps. SIAM’s 1500 sedan became a popular taxi in Buenos Aires, but what about those customers seeking near-luxury appointments with a bovine-friendly cargo bed? The Argenta was born out of this bold line of thinking, and for four glorious years, the trucklet rolled off of SIAM’s assembly lines. That is, until foreign automakers decided to cut out the middleman by building their plants in South America, making the economic argument for SIAM’s auto production moot. In the wake of more coups and general economic unrest, SIAM disbanded factory by factory, lingering on until 1994. Apparently, despite making less than 30,000 Riley vehicles under license, there is an active enthusiast community, as there should be! My take – this would be the ultimate support vehicle for a Interlagos-Alpine A110 road racer. Am I wrong? Cambridge-Oxford Owner’s Club, Wikipedia

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