• What kind of a ‘domestic and national’ automobile?

What kind of a ‘domestic and national’ automobile?

What kind of a ‘domestic and national’ automobile?

12 Mar 2021

On my way to work in Maslak, the other day, I saw our famous “domestic and national automobile” parked in front of one of the skyscrapers.

I knew what it was because of the ‘TOGG’ logo in front of it; I guess its launch campaign made an impression on me.

An inner voice said, “It’s probably on a test drive” and so I wanted to make a u-turn from the refuge ahead to go and see the car up close. Or rather, the SUV.

I go near it, and what do I see, the logo says ‘2008’ and not ‘TOGG’. So it was a Peugeot.

Then, out of interest I carefully studied photographs of both these cars (and other similar ones) on the Internet and realized that their logos were positioned differently and that some details such as their front grilles, headlights and side mirrors were quite different. However…

And, that’s what I wanted to discuss anyway: However.

All cars look alike now

Sedans look like sedans; hatchbacks look like hatchbacks, SUVs like SUVs, pickups like pickups and 4x4s look like 4x4s.

What’s worse is that nowadays, almost all brands look like and resemble each other.

We are no longer able to differentiate a BMW from a Toyota, a Ford from a Hyundai from a distance. We have to refer to the logo of a vehicle to identify its brand.

The cherry on top is their hideousness.

I have a generalization that I refer to frequently; some might be offended, but still: nowadays, all the cars on the streets and all the boats in the sea resemble ‘Tefal irons’.

And what’s more, I think all of the budding hyper-cars look like cockroaches.

I’m really sorry about this. As someone who values things of the past, respects aesthetics, makes an effort to imagine what the designers would have been thinking as they were drawing and creating, and enjoys watching a beautiful car as if it was a sculptural masterpiece, I think that each car (in fact each vehicle) produced before the 90s or the 80s have a distinct design, a unique spirit that matches its brand and an elegance particular to its time.

With a few exceptions, my favorite years for car design are the 60s and 70s.

Back in the day, cars were made like ‘sculptures’, by shaving off parts of a clay mass, but now they are designed on the computer much like playing a space game.

It used to take months of hard work and dozens of passionate people and engineers to position an engine inside that sculpture, now all you need to do is press the ‘fit’ button.

Even I, as someone who has long been in the car community, cannot recognize the brand of a vehicle from its appearance, except for the character that it’s front and rear lights generate (and that’s only at night).

And what about the lack of pleasure while driving?

– Yes, these must be more environmentally friendly, but the sound and the joyful feeling that a distinctive internal combustion engine creates as opposed to a fast electric engine,

– Yes, these are probably faster, but the pleasure of driving a manual car as opposed to a dual-clutch automatic gearbox,

– Yes, these are probably safer but the zing of a car that pours its power directly onto the asphalt as opposed to a vehicle equipped with electronic security systems is equally enjoyable as great sex for me.

Of course, I have no right to criticize those who love technology and those who seek the latest.

I acknowledge their right to prefer these vehicles, due to the comfort they provide in everyday life and their significant benefits to the environment.

I have observed the advancement of technology for years. And, hats off to the level of safety and comfort of daily use achieved today. Still, my mind is set.

In fact, I equate the uncomfortable and hard-to-drive pre-80s cars to high heels; no matter how uncomfortable they may be, they still mesmerize both the wearer and the audience.

Anyway, let’s not get carried away…

The image of a car situated inside a house is a spectacle that mesmerizes me anytime I see it in movies, books or magazines. One of those warehouse buildings (very trendy abroad), probably with brick walls, a fairly high ceiling, an open-style, well-equipped kitchen in one corner, a modern and splendid living room, a fireplace on the side, and an immaculate retro car in another corner, bright like candy (I like to embellish)…

It’s not my intention to wax poetic about the wealth in this scene.

It’s not the value of the car that makes it worth putting inside the house.

It probably is a valuable car, but one should never forget that it would make the house smell of oil and gasoline on its way inside.

On the other hand, the thrill of standing across such a car and discovering its gracefully applied details one by one gives me a similar pleasure like that of gazing at a beautiful work of art in a great museum. And at that moment, the smell of gasoline is like perfume to me.

With its chrome-plated bumpers that resemble a fountain pen, with headlights made of real glass and a ‘facial expression’, with curves, laths and a wooden interior that underscore its design, the vehicle says “I am the product of another level of ‘pleasure’.

The present-day cars are all the same colour, plastic, and soulless. I would have said they resemble refrigerators on wheels but that would be an insult to refrigerators (to every rule there may be a few exceptions).

A new trend has blossomed in recent years, more precisely two.

The first is to remake old cars using new technology, which are called ‘resto-mods'.  I think the name is derived from the words restoration and modernization; one could describe it as the combination of the original style and modern-day performance.

This is more of a personal effort and a quite expensive one at that, too, but trust me, the results can be very good sometimes, especially when they are done with pleasure, awareness and care.

The second is perhaps the cure for my misery.

I think car factories began to realize the prevalent lack of taste and started off on a race to design new cars by stylizing iconic models bearing classic features of the brand, which they had produced between 1960 and 1980 (nowadays we often see their prototypes).

The first example I can think of that was offered up for sale is the American Ford T-Bird. Mini Cooper also got on the bandwagon, “rising from its ashes” for a second life on the streets. So did Fiat 500. I also think the Fiat 125 Spider, a few years ago, was a valiant effort for its segment.

I’m sure there are many brands and models that I am forgetting or that are just arriving on the market.

And there are those that stay true to their original look.

For instance, the well-deserved success of the Porsche 911 has to do with the fact that it has preserved its original iconic look as it developed over the years.

Now let’s talk about the issue of ‘domestic and national automobile’

To this day, there have been two cars that can be referred to as domestic in Turkey. ‘Devrim’ (Revolution) and ‘Anadol’.

To me, they’re both wonderful; they’re both iconic.

Unfortunately, ‘Devrim’ does not have a story of success. In fact, its story is one of sorrow (1961).

‘Anadol’, on the other hand, has its own story of success. Made by the Israeli, Anadol’ is actually a British design. In England, its brand name was Nobel, and the steering wheel was on the right-hand side. It was produced and used in various countries, under different brand names for 19 years (1950-1969). Under the guidance of Vehbi Koç, Otosan manufactured Anadol for 18 years (1966-1984) in Turkey.

Do you know what I would do ‘as Turkey’?

I would take ‘Devrim’ and complete its unfinished story.

I would keep its design, make revisions (Devrim’s front and sides are beautiful; it’s rear, not so much), modernize it in every aspect (perhaps make it electric) and have Tofaş produce it as an outstanding project.

– It would have a great story. – It would have a distinctive design.

– And that much desired ‘domestic and national’ automobile would be a reality.