The classic Hillman Hunter lives on albeit rebadged as the Iranian National Paykan (arrow) and is now an integral part of the Iranian automotive culture.
Some 50 years ago Iran’s industrial development was moving swiftly with the forward-thinking government planning to build a self-sustaining indigenous automobile industry.
After several false dawns, including an unsuccessful venture with FIAT, a revolution took place when, in 1966, the Iranian company Iran National, holder of a Mercedes Benz bus license, started manufacturing passenger cars.
The founders of Iran National, Ahmad Khayami and his brother Mahmoud, after negotiating with many international manufacturers, reached an agreement with the Rootes group for the CKD (Complete Knock Down) assembly of the Hillman Hunter.
The contract also provided for a transfer of technology, allowing the substitution of locally manufactured parts. The new car was subsequently rebadged as the Iranian National Paykan (arrow) and launched in 1967.
There are now Paykan clubs across Iran and the car has even been the proud subject of a number of films and documentaries.
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A combination of national pride owning a locally assembled car, practical design and useability of the Paykan / Hunter made it the chosen mode of transport for a large proportion of Iranian society, from prime ministers to taxi drivers. A pick-up version also became the backbone of the Iranian logistics and commercial sector.
The constant appeal of Paykan led to an extremely long career, with its gradual termination in 2005, some 38 years after its launch, although the pick-up version still survives today. The Paykan remains to this day an integral part of Iranian culture with Paykan clubs across Iran; the car has also been the subject of a number of films and documentaries.
Paykan’s biggest legacy is that it led to the birth of the Iranian auto industry. The economy of scale allowed by its sales has led to investments in a local parts industry which now forms the backbone of a massive supply chain.
Today, Paykan’s legacy is such that Iran National, renamed Iran Khodro after the revolution, is now the 16th largest car manufacturer in the world and has propelled Iran into one of the largest manufacturing countries of vehicles in Asia, with the automotive industry. representing 10% of Iran’s GDP and 4% of its workforce.
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