Title: Britain designs Turkey's first car...
Pages: 48 - 49
Text: Britain designs Turkey's first car
. . . or how co-operation between a manufacturer and a firm of industrial designers led to the development of a car for low cost production overseas.
A general view of the FW5 which was taken to Turkey last year. The version going into production, however, has a few modifications, including a neater housing for the headlamps.
The Reliant FW5 car, which the Turks will start partly making and completely assembling in Istanbul next month, is the result of long term forward planning plus a breakthrough in manufacturing techniques. It is also notable because it is particularly suitable for partial manufacture by a country in which capital is scarce, but unskilled labour plentiful; and because the car has been designed with the help of a firm of consultant industrial designers.
As far back as 1961, the Reliant Motor Co Ltd. which designed the FW5, began planning a range of future models. At that time, the company produced only two cars, both three-wheelers. It then decided to continue making one three-wheeler, now the Regal 3/25 Super, which is also available as a van and light truck; a four wheeled version of the same car (the present Rebel); a sports GT (the Scimitar); and a middle range family saloon (this last project has now become the FW5). And in the development of this range, the firm called in Ogle Design Ltd to work with its own design staff.
The FW5 was number three on the list of priorities, but the development of the car received unexpected encouragement from an enquiry made by Otosan, the main Ford dealer for Turkey, which wrote to Ford in December 1963 to ask whether a car could be made in Turkey. Ford replied that full scale manufacture of a car seemed financially impossible, since at least £10 million would be required to set up a conventional plant. But it passed the inquiry on to Reliant.
Early plans Reliant was interested because of its experience of developing vehicles for comparatively small volume production, using methods which do not involve expensive plant and tooling, and in January 1964 there was a first meeting between Ray Wiggin, managing director of Reliant, and Bernar Nahum of Otosan. Mr Nahum agreed that a middle range family saloon would be appropriate for Turkey, and that its design should lend itself to assembly there and incorporate whatever parts could be mace there using plentiful, but largely unskilled, labour. At this meeting, it was also agreed to base the car on the British Ford Consul/Cortina range, and Reliant's next step was to ask Ogle to design a simple, reliable body using Ford's engine and components. Front and rear threequarter view drawings of three different solutions were immediately prepared and flown out to
The fibre glass body shell, showing the redesigned headlight housing, which now blends with the general lines of the car.
Otosan, and one of them agreed upon, which led to the development of a 1/8 scale model; and by Christmas 1964, a 1/4 scale model had been developed in which the wheelbase, headroom, engine layout, seating arrangement, controls, etc. were fully worked out. Full scale drawing was begun in February 1965, the body being modelled at Ogle's workshops at Letchworth; and in the summer of 1965, a prototype was driven to Turkey.
In the design of the FW5, the most important technological breakthrough is its body shell in which the roof, sides, under-body, engine compartment and wheel arches, are produced as one unit. There are separate moulds for the dashboard, rear seats, bonnet and boot lids, and doors. The main body shell has a smooth surface throughout, without any panel joints (which would be almost impossible to produce in steel). The form of construction used on the shell, which has additional steel members on the door pillars only, makes it rigid, completely waterproof under the body and free from corrosion. In addition, the shut line around the large bonnet has been designed so that any small fitting discrepancies will not show. And as the instrument panel and inner rear window panels extend to the roof, they form a frame which traps the roof lining, ingeniously avoiding beading and wire fixing. Finally, Ogle's experience of appliance design led to a simple radiator grille, fabricated from steel sections, resistance welded in exactly the same way as refrigerator shelves are made. Thus an effective but inexpensive grille was achieved with hardly any tooling cost.
Besides its glass fibre body, the FW5 differs from the Cortina in that its interior dimensions are bigger and its overall length is slightly greater; it is also higher off the ground when fully laden (6' inches), which makes it more suitable for use on bad roads. Now that Otosan has taken up the FW5, it will be making the chassis as well as the body; and the Turks are being trained to make their own body moulds, though the first ones are being sent out from England. So the car plant, already using many components made in Turkey, contains the seeds of a vital and highly sophisticated industry. As Wiggin points out, the new partnership formed in Turkey could be repeated in other less developed countries of the world. R.C.