New evidence suggests that the upper image is the more correct - dinos were indeed colourful and fond of small children!
I never made it to the SAMMH on that day and only got my chance last Friday. The staff there were very helpful and I am thankful to Richard Henry who assisted me. Richard compiled a set of notes on MH/SARCs which he shared with me and also gave me the contact details of William Marshall, the author of a really excellent book, "MARMON-HERRINGTON: A History of the South African Reconnaissance Car" (published May 2013, ISBN: 9788360672204). I spoke to William today and he was kind enough to send me a copy of this 2-page memorandum from the Technical Services Directorate, dated 3 January 1942:
On January 4 1942, a convoy of 19 SARC Mk III MFFs left the Premier Mine Vehicle Depot near Pretoria by road for the port of Durban (a 450 mile journey, partially on unpaved roads) with Tandjong Priok as the ultimate destination. Item "D" refers to 30 cars dispatched on 30-12-1941, together making up the full complement of 49 NEW "Zuid Afrikaanse Panserautos" sent to the NEI. They were sent sans armament as was the practise but were to be packed before shipping, with mountings for Vickers machine guns, Boyes AT rifles and Bren guns. Also spare axles and engines, tools and equipment, bags for spent cartridges, instruction manuals and "unaltered armour jackets"(?).
For the vehicles sent to Malaya, William states the following in his book:
Malaya - 175
"The figures quoted are based on the most accurate source available, that being the DGWS (Director General War Supplies) Bulletin. This document was published after production had already ceased thus being the most complete set of figures available to-day."
The minutes of the Authorities Committee (DGWS) of 17 November 1941 includes a report by Lt. Gen. van der Spuy (Director General of Technical Services), which states that a total of 2646 vehicles had still not been delivered against orders received, among which only 11 for Malaya, and 48 (not 49?) for the Dutch East Indies. From this one MAY conclude that 164 units had by then been shipped to Malaya. What's become of them all remains a mystery.
Another snippet from the history of the 3rd Cavalry, "The Indian and Pakistani Armies 1903 – 1991" by John Gaylor, pg. 65:
"...they (3rd Cavalry) arrived in Penang on the 28 Nov 41, a week before the Japanese invasion. Singapore ordnance depot issued thirty Marmon-Herrington armoured cars on the 8th December..."
With regards to the positioning of the side door on the Mk II cars, I'm still waiting for conclusive answers but in the meantime I have it that the "car-style door" adjacent to the driver was a carryover from the first rivetted models and changed to a square(ish) hatch positioned further aft sometime during the early production-life of the Mark II which also necessitated the spare wheel to be moved further aft. This was done on all new vehicles and therefore had nothing to do with the fitting of alternative armament. The hatch-style side doors were carried over to the Mk III but were larger. I think the modeller got his serial number wrong in Image 2 (F.22753)