The Devrim would be designed, engineered and produced by a frugal 24 skilled workers for President Cemal Gürsel in 1961 for the Republic Day celebrations on October 29. This was to be the first-ever domestic vehicle to be constructed in Turkey – an automotive revolution.
An incredible true story of a select few loyal and passionate railway engineers who were given the herculean task of producing two cars in preparation for the Republic Day celebrations in 1961.
It was considered impossible for Turkey to produce their own cars during the military coup, but the president insisted the task could be achieved and detailed his not so friendly ‘request’ to the hard-working railwaymen.
Time was of the essence and the two cars were to be completed in just 130 days, with black and cream being the chosen colours. Following completion, the pair of Devrims would then be shipped to Ankara for the celebrations.
Meeting June 16 – 1961
The meeting, held in Ankara was chaired by Deputy General Manager Emin Bozoğlu, who spoke to the 24 engineers, announcing that funds had been allocated for a car that would be made entirely of domestic products to be finished by October 29.
Bozoğlu’s instruction from the upper echelon was met with dismay and rejection, saying it was impossible to achieve in such a short time.
June 16, 1961, and Turkey’s first indigenous car engineers are recalled from Eskişehir – a small city in northwestern Turkey city in middle Anatolia.
Devrim – Cutting It Close
The dedicated team included 48 engineers and nearly 200 workers each playing their own valuable part in the construction of the Devrim (Dev’rim – revolution in Turkish) cars.
Margins were tight with little time to spare but Devrim 2 was eventually completed on the evening of October 28. Gasoline tanks were emptied as a safety precaution and both were loaded onto the waiting train, which was pulled by steam locomotives.
Only a few litres of fuel was put in their tanks to manoeuvre the cars going to Ankara, with the main refuelling to be done carried out on the morning at the gas station in Sıhhiye and then onwards to the Assembly.
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October 29 1961 – Assembly Day
As dawn broke on the morning of October 29, the Devrim duo joined the strict motorcycle escort, who, in all the excitement, neglected to fill the cars up with gasoline on the way.
On arrival at the Assembly, the ‘simple’ mistake was quickly rectified as the team quickly refuelled the first Devrim… unfortunately the president had already started to make his way towards the second black and more presidential looking car, which had very little gasoline in its tank.
100 metres later, the proud Devrim coughed and spluttered then came to an abrupt halt. “What’s happened?” asks Gürsel… Rıfat Serdaroglu, the Senior Engineer at the wheel, sheepishly states “We ran out of gas sir”.
President Gürsel replies, “We have built a car like a westerner, but forgot to put gas in it like an easterner”.
The following day, headlines in the newspaper read, “Devrim went 100 meters and it broke down“.
Whilst only 4 units were ever built, the cars were quite forward-thinking and even suggestions of an adjustable steering column was suggested – something Rolls-Royce announced 12 months later as an innovation.
The fascinating DVD is available or can be watched in full via this link.