The first automobile manufactured in Turkey was a Jeep. That might say something about the mountainous terrain of the country which includes Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark is thought to have landed.
In 2004 the Rahmi M Koç Museum in Istanbul acquired what is probably the first truly Turkish-manufactured vehicle: the first CJ-3B off the line made with entirely Turkish components, with the possible exception of the engine. Donated by the widow of Ferruh Verdi, the owner of Türk Willys Overland from 1953 - 1972, the Jeep was retained by Mr. Verdi for his personal use and given the name "Ayse" (a popular girl's name in Turkey).
Tony Phillipson, General Manager of the Museum, comments, "It is in running condition, although the general workmanship is rudimentary compared to the later car in our collection. The wheels were apparently changed from 15" to 14" a few years ago by Mr Verdi 'in an attempt to lower the centre of gravity.'"
See also the Hurricane engine (90K JPEG).
In February 1954 the President of Turkey visited the Willys factory in Toledo and was presented with a CJ-3B Jeep. This photo shows the President's gift arriving at the Presidential Palace in Ankara. The lettering painted at the factory has been washed off the hood, and the Jeep is being escorted by a Jeepster with an Ankara license plate. Perhaps the President is inside.
A summary of the history of the "Automotive Sector in Turkey" stated that "the first vehicle assembly company was established in 1954 (Türk Willys Overland Ltd.) for jeep manufacturing." The company's assembly plant was located on a 33 hectare (80 acre) site in Tuzla, just south of Istanbul.
According to research by Tony Phillipson, "By 1961 the plant had four assembly lines and 782 employees, and was producing some 5,000 trucks and 7,200 light vehicles (especially 1/4 ton Jeeps) annually."
A 1960 publication (60K JPEG) promoting the Tuzla plant includes a photo of an architect's model showing projected plant development (70K JPEG). The text states that Willys pickups and panel trucks are to be added to the Türk Willys Overland line in 1960.
Photos in the booklet show a nearly-complete CJ-5 (above) and chassis assembly (right.) See also body assembly (100K JPEG) and body finishing (70K JPEG). Thanks to Serhat Guvenc for scanning the booklet.
John Carroll photographed this long-wheelbase CJ-3B in Turkey. It has similarities to LWB models built in Spain, India, and Japan, but isn't clearly identifiable as any of those, and may well be a Turkish-built version.
Zeki Tolu sent photos of his Jeep in Turkey which has the VIN tag (70K JPEG) of a 1960 Willys CJ-5, but appears to be a CJ-6 (90K JPEG). Is it possible that Jeeps imported for assembly in Turkey were sometimes lengthened as was done in Australia and Sweden? See also the right side (100K JPEG) and the Hurricane engine (90K JPEG).
Hubert Cossard comments that several French books on Jeep history have made mention of a variety of models having been built in Turkey, including the Gladiator starting in 1982. Further details are currently untraceable.
From photocopies of the CJ-3B manual, see a page identifying the parts of the interior (140K JPEG), and a page listing the basic CJ-3B specs in Turkish (60K GIF).
Parts source in Turkey: Ulus Automotive in Istanbul (email@example.com) has been a supplier of Jeep and Willys parts since 1978.
Thanks to Serhat Güvenç, and Tony Phillipson and his staff at the Rahmi M Koç Museum. More information, particularly photos of other models built in Turkey, would be welcome. -- Derek Redmond
Also on The CJ3B Page, see a Restored Tuzla Jeep, and Turkish Jeeps in Army Service, including The Last Turkish Army CJ-3B's.
See more Jeeps Around the World on The CJ3B Page.
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