Stayin’ Alive (Part 2)

Exiles off main street – a conclusion. 

Austin Yema. Image: Cartype.com/ Autohome.com

Returning to our brief review of the automotive afterlife, we pop across the channel to arrive in the United Kingdom. Bidding here is opened by the Austin Maestro (1982-1994) which ended its days in China as the Yema SQJ6450 in 2010, resulting in sixteen years of continued production in exile. Yema also sold the F12 until 2014 which did use the old Maestro/Montego platform but with a totally different body and interior.

Vauxhall’s Victor FE (1972-1978) enjoyed a lengthy career continuation in India as the Hindustan Contessa – the Hindustan assembly lines only delivered the last Contessa in 2002, with a score of twenty-four years the result.

Vauxhall Victor FE. Image: Alden Jewell/ Favcars.com

Now to the big guns: as the Paykan, the Hillman Hunter (1966-79) remained available in Iran until 2005, the pick-up version (the Bardo) even as late as 2015. This means an impressive exile score of either twenty-six or thirty-six years.

Hillman Hunter/ Pakyan. Image: Cartype.com/ Oldieglanz.de

No matter, because both Paykans are handily beaten by India’s Hindustan Ambassador, née Morris Oxford III (1956-1960). It was not until 2014 that production finally ground to a halt resulting in a mind-boggling period of production in exile: no less than fifty-four years. By the way, the British Fullbore company attempted to re-introduce the Oxford III in the UK during the 1990s by importing Hindustan Ambassadors and modifying them where necessary or required by law. This was not a success.

Morris Oxford/ Hindustan Ambassador. Image: Autohome.com/ Autominded.net/ Rennlist.com

We should not forget Italy of course; it will likely not surprise many readers that all of the candidates carry the FIAT name. Barely clearing the ten-year hurdle with thirteen years of exile survival is the 127 (1971-1983) which ended up in Argentina and, renamed 147 along the way, was produced there until 1996.That makes for an exile score of thirteen years.

The old rear-engined 600 (1955-1969) found refuge in the Eastern bloc as the Zastava 750/850 and held out until 1985 earning it a score of sixteen years. Fiat’s first generation Uno (1983-1995) was built in its final guise under the name Uno Grazie Mille in Brazil until 2013, totalling eighteen years. Next up in the Fiat parade is the tiny 126 (1972-1980) that, affectionally named Maluch (toddler) in Poland, was produced there until september 2000 which means twenty years of life extension outside of Italy.

In Serbia the very last Zastava Skala 55 was completed in 2008. It had of course started life as the Fiat 128 (1969-1985). A quick calculation shows that the 128 registers an impressive twenty-three years on the exile scale. The 131 Mirafiori (1974-1985) is, perhaps undeservedly, a bit of a forgotten Fiat but it too enjoyed a extended afterlife ultimately ending its days in Ethiopia. Holland Car, a Dutch-Ethiopian joint venture, produced the now DOCC named old Fiat using CKD kits in Adis Ababa until 2010 – a score of twenty-five years being the result.

We move to India for another high-scoring Fiat: the 1100D (1962-1969). First as the Fiat 1100 Delight but later as the better known Premier Padmini, it was to the Indian taxi trade what the Austin FX4 was to their British counterparts. It was not until the year 2000 that the final Padmini rolled out of the factory – having enjoyed an exile existence of thirty-one years.

Trumping all these is the Fiat 124 (1966-1974); built in India (Premier 118NE) until 2001 and Turkey (Tofas Serçe) until 2004. However, Egypt would be its last known production location,  production there continuing at least until 2015. Currently it is no longer listed on the Lada Egypt website, so it appears to have been discontinued sometime between 2015 and 2020 – the 124’s minimum exile score thus standing at a towering forty-one years but might be higher still.

Our final country may be a surprise to some: Japan. And yet, keeping in mind the proven durability of most Japanese cars and the fact that they usually enjoyed relatively short production spans in their home country it starts to explain why some score very well on the exile scale.

Suzuki’s Swift SF (1988-2000) is first; the popular compact was produced as the Suzuki Cultus in Pakistan until 2017 – seventeen years its score. The same result is registered by the Mazda 323 FA4 (1977-1980) which was last assembled in Indonesia in 1997 under the name Mazda Baby Boomers (yes, really!)

The unassuming Nissan Sentra B13 (1989-1994) found refuge in Mexico where it continued to be produced as the Nissan Tsuru until 2017 – a strong score of twenty-three years its reward. It’s Mazda again for Japan’s number three: the 121 DA (1986-1991) is still in production in Iran as the Saipa 111 at the time of this writing, therefore its exile score is a sizeable twenty-nine years and counting.

Suzuki has another horse in this race – the CA71 Alto (1984-88). In Pakistan it continued to be built as the Suzuki Mehran until 2019 earning it a 31-year stay of execution abroad. Impressive as this is, it is soundly beaten by the Nissan Junior Pickup (1970-1982) which is also still in production in Iran, built by Zamyad under the model name Z24. This means it scores thirty-nine years of production in exile – and counting.

So, to wrap up, we have a top three in the Morris Oxford Series III, the Fiat 124 and the Nissan Junior Pickup respectively, but as the latter is still being produced, the order could change in the future. One thing we can say however with a reasonable amount of confidence is that the likelihood of any future additions to threaten the existing order seems at best, vanishingly small – the industry has changed too much for that.

Author: brrrruno

Car brochure collector, Thai food lover, not a morning person before my first cup of coffee

22 thoughts on “Stayin’ Alive (Part 2)”

    1. Hello Boarezina,
      Indeed I overlooked that one- thank you for your comment! This means its exile score goes up to sixteen years, moving it ahead of the Fiat 127/147.

    2. In the interest of the accuracy of the information provided on DTW I have asked the editor to amend the text and photo accordingly.

  1. Good morning, Bruno, and thank you for another selection of the automotive undead to brighten up a Monday morning, two of which particularly catch my eye. The Maestro-based Yema F-series hides its roots well, but has an extraordinarily long nose and front overhang:

    The Mazda 323-based Baby Boomer not only has a hilarious name, but a terrible nose-job that seems to incorporate the headlamps from the Rover SD3 213

    Even funnier, if that’s possible, is this (presumably unauthorised?) advertisement for it:

    Have a nice day all!

    1. I think the headlamps on the Boomer came from the Mazda 626 of 80’s vintage, not the SD3 Rover 200 Series, although the similarity is uncanny.

      That’s a fantastic advert, where on earth did you dig that out from?

    2. Hi S.V. I just stumbled upon the advertisement when googling ‘Mazda Baby Boomers’. I wonder if the soi-disant ’45th President of the United States’ would be flattered, or just demand his back-dated royalties?

  2. Exceptional work again brrruno. It’s amazing what can be done with an old platform. That Yema F looks nothing like the original that donated its platform.

  3. “Introducing Mazda baby boomers specially created for bright-minded young executives.
    Reveal the shape of the dashboard and speedometer for Mazda baby boomers who have class.”

    1. Thanks for the translation from Indonesian, Dave. And you wouldn’t believe what car was created later using underpinnings and mechanicals from the Mazda Baby Boomers- more on that later!

    2. I just could not resit using Google translate to understand the text…

  4. Aware that Hindustan also produced short-lived local versions of the Morris Minor as the Baby Hindustan, which never reached the same success as the Morris Oxford III-derived Hindustan Ambassador whether due to being perceived as underpowered or less durable as its bigger brother for India.

    Yet IMHO the Minor with a bit more development overall including 1275cc engine (notwithstanding the Marina / Ital) and say a three-box saloon rebody loosely resembling the Austin A40 Farina (with Fiat 1100 style rear), could have become a serious challenger to the Fiat 1100 including the locally built Premier Padmini with a similarly long production run.

    Find the Nissan Sentra B13 visually more cleaner and appealing looking for some reason against the Nissan Sunny N14.

    Thought the likes of the Fiat 131 and Fiat 132/Argenta would have made a suitable basis for some decent Ladas or general Eastern Bloc cars despite actually being built by FSO. More precisely am referring to thorough rebodies along the likes of the Fiat 125-derived FSO Polonez, Fiat 131-derived Tofaş Şahin, Doğan and Kartal as well as Lada’s many attempts to rebody the Fiat 124-derived Riva.

    The Autobianchi A112 arguably deserved to cease production around the same time at the Zastava Koral and Skala in some form.

  5. Hello Bruno, have you mentioned the Peugeot 405? I think that still may be being built in Iran in some form.

    1. Hello Charles,
      Ah, another one that slipped past…. It is indeed still being built in Iran it seems (now as the Peugeot / Iran Khodro “Pars”) and certainly belongs in the exile parade- so, some editing work on part one of this overview is in order. Thanks for your comment!

    2. Hello Bruno – it’s a big topic and it’s impressive you’ve covered so much ground.

      I wonder which was the first model to ‘retire abroad’; the Willys Aero, perhaps?

    3. The Alfa 1900/2000 went to Brazil as the FNM 2300 that was made until 1988.
      BMW transferred the Glas 1700 to South Africa as the BMW 1800 SA/2004

    4. There’s also the Iranian 405 RD/ROA where the 405’s bodyshell was put on the rear-wheel-drive Hunter/Paykan platform! Apparently these were produced until 2011 so this gives the Hunter another six years?

    5. From some hasty researches, hampered by my lack of Farsi, and agents unknown REALLY not wanting me to open IKCO’s English-language website, it seems that the 405 tooling has been exiled to Azerbijan to produce something called a ‘406’, which is actually a mash-up of the end-of-days Iranian 405 and the Pars.

      The Pars solders on in Iran, having seen off IKCO’s home-grown but heavily 405-based Samand, which was replaced by the Dena from 2015. The Samand was a neat, inoffensive-looking thing, but the more challenging Dena suffers from a Bangle-butt of the most egregious sort:

    6. Correction: It seems that the Peugeot Roa was available until either 2013 or 2016, and apparently it’s still possible to get an Arisun pickup, always on the Paykan platform – here it is:

  6. I’m unusually late to the party and also realize I didn’t know much about these cars, except for the Hindustan Ambassador and the Iranian Peugeot 405 mentioned by Charles. Fascinating stuff and thanks for sharing it here, Bruno.

  7. Thank you for the articles Bruno, really interesting.
    I’ve previously searched the internet to try and find out how many of some of these were produced (no real reason, just curious) but gave up as I couldn’t find the information.

  8. Good morning, in a few words , Iran is a nice country for retirement. Maybe the Ford Festiva can also be included, also produced in Iran and then a short trip to Venezuela as Veneiran Turpial.

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