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 boys young and old in the 1940s–60s.
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.