Turkey Day Automotive History: Anadol – Back When Turkey Built Its Own Cars, Before They Built Ours

BL Anadol

There was a time when every country still fervently wanted its own domestic automobile. For Turkey, that took two tries; the first one, the ill-fated Devrim of 1961, was a disaster from the get-go, including a break down of the one carrying the President of Turkey in a parade to show it off to the nation, withing 100 meters of the start. Not surprisingly, it never went into production.

But in 1966, the Anadol went into production, with substantially greater success. It was a fiberglass sedan, developed by the UK’s Reliant, famous for its three-wheelers, and powered by UK Ford engines. Variations of it lasted until 1984, and a pickup version until 1991. What more is there to say, except to show you the whole Anadol history in a condensed form. As well as a vehicle built in the former Anadol factory that is quite common in the US today.

Anadol A1_in_Cambridge

Here’s a first generation A1 (what else?)  shot in Cambridge, UK. If the front end and other aspects of its design look somewhat familiar, it’s because it was designed by Tom Karen of Ogle Design, who also designed the Scimitar, a car featured here in David Saunder’s COAL. Not a bad looking car, for 1966. The A1 was powered by a 1200cc Ford ‘Kent’ pushrod four, and later, a 1300cc version.

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This is a A1 MkII from 1974. It’s trying to stay stylish, something the Anadol would struggle with more and more as the years went on.

Anado l_SL_A2 1976 1981

A four door joined the Anadol lineup in 1973. This is a A2 SL, as built from 1976 -1981. Also known the the Anadol Brougham.

Anadol Pickup

In 1970, a pickup was wisely added to the Anadol line. I hear it was Borat’s preferred truck. In later years, the ‘Pinto’ crossflow OHC four supplanted the Kent, in 1300 and 1600cc versions. After 1983, a 1900cc diesel version was also offered.

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Of course, every indigenous car maker has to test its mettle with a genuine sports car. Anadol developed the STC-16 by itself; no Brits were invited on this project. ‘STC’ stood for ‘Sports Turkish Car’, but among the well-off Turkish youth that it was targeted to, it stood for “Süper Türk Canavarı” (Super Turkish Monster).  The 1600cc Ford engine under the fiberglass body made 68 hp and propelled the STC to a top speed of 99 mph. Not exactly world class, but it was hot stuff in Turkey in 1973. Only 176 STCs were made; presumably the target demographic was a bit small still then.

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The SV-1600 station wagon appeared in 1973 too, and sported (fiberglass) bodywork quite unique to itself. It reflected Reliant’s Scimitar even more than the coupe and sedan.  This was the world’s first five-door fiberglass car.

Anadol A8

The beginning of the end was the very unfortunately-styled A8-16 of 1981. Trying to emulate the Saab and Volvos of the late 70s, the A8 came off looking like something the Turkish version of the NHTSA might have built as a “safety demonstration car”, or something like that.

Anadol A8-16

The back end was only slightly less ugly. And the interior was retro-grade too. The A8-16 was a…turkey (sorry; I couldn’t resist).  Production ended after only three years. The pickup soldiered on until 1991, and then Anadol was no more. The Otosan factory was bought by Ford, and started building its vehicles there.

ford tranist-connect-wagon-3

Including all the Transit Connects that are exported to the US. So the Anadol story reflects the typical realities of globalization: only the big survive.