SMEC Its History

Model Cars 1950s
ISBN 978-184683-178-2
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by Leonard & Guy A-R-West
An illustrated history of Scale Model Equipment Co Ltd of Steyning, Sussex, England 1946-1960.

Those who fondly remember making SMEC model cars in their younger days may be interested to learn of their origins and history and of the small family-owned Sussex company who manufactured them, literally by hand, during what is now very much a bygone era.

FOUNDED IN 1946 in Steyning, Sussex, Scale Model Equipment Co (SMEC) was the brainchild of Alastair Robertson-Aikman who set out to turn his childhood enthusiasm for model-making into a business manufacturing model car kits.

During the 1950s SMEC produced a variety of model cars under the Hobbycraft and Autocraft trading names, which became popular with enthusiasts worldwide and have since become highly collectable. SMEC (renamed SME Ltd in 1959) ceased making model cars in favour of manufacturing high-quality hi-fi pickup arms and turntables. Over the following years they built up a worldwide reputation and remain to this day market leaders in this field.

Brothers Guy and Leonard Alston-Roberts-West, both former employees at SME, felt that it would be a shame if the formative years of the company were forgotten set out to discover all they could about the relatively short period during which SMEC produced model cars.

Their task was not an easy one because the company unsentimentally disposed of most of the unsold stock and associated drawings and materials in 1960 when the decision was taken to abandon model-making, so Leonard & Guy resorted to purchasing vintage models and kits privately and scouring back-issues of model-making journals to find advertisements places by SMEC. Leonard compiled all the information they managed to gather into readable form and Guy took photos of the models and the result is this enjoyable book.

It is both a celebration of a brief era in the history of a small UK company and of the hobby of model-making, which was very much part of growing up for British boys young and old in the 1940s–60s.

A pair of SMEC model cars.

The SMEC logo.

SMEC model boxes.

SMEC products in the 1950s included Hobbycraft and Autocraft scale model cars, Signalcraft scale model signals for model railways, the Foam-Wraith scale model outboard motor for model boats, and the Pak-Rak folding toast rack. They also made bespoke models for a variety of business customers and precision instruments for the aviation and marine industries.

Leo and Guy are vintage firearms enthusiasts and have their own Youtube channel ( where you can see them firing a variety of antique weapons at the UK's famous Bisley Shooting Ground.
format large format softback | 205 x 290 mm | 100 pages
content  text plus many mono and colour photos, plans and illustrations
genre company history | social history
time period 1940s/50s
themes scale model cars | modelling