NEWS

If at first you don’t succeed…

Mevea was founded in 1960. Its most successful products were light three-wheeled trucks but its most famous model came through its collaboration with the British car manufacturer Reliant, when the Reliant Robin was manufactured under license in Greece from 1974 to 1978. In Britain, the Robin holds iconic status in the automotive universe, even if it’s usually the butt of a joke and is best remembered today for being outwitted, out-parked and tipped over by Mr Bean’s Mini. In 1979, Mevea introduced the Fox, a popular vehicle type in Greece at the time thanks to favorable legislation. In the 1980s, the company faced economic problems when its exports, primarily of light trucks to Asia, dropped dramatically and when utility vehicles lost their tax breaks in Greece. Production of the Fox was stopped in 1983 and the company soon closed down. The Kontogouris Brothers have been involved in the car industry since the 1950s – proof of their love for the industry as well as their incredible persistence. In 1961, they created Farco and manufactured the Farmobil multipurpose truck. Although it was produced in Thessaloniki, it was not certified for Greece and so all the models produced were exported. In 1963, Farco was sold to Chrysler, the company was renamed Chrysler Hellas and, in an ironic testament to Greek bureaucracy, the Farmobil was finally certified for the Greek market. In the 1960s, the brothers created the National Motor Company of Greece (Namco) with ambitious plans to produce a car, however these were never realized. Namco resurfaced a decade later with the Pony, a car designed by Citroen around the 2CV platform. It became a huge success in Greece, helped by the aforementioned tax breaks for this sort of vehicle. Nearly 30,000 were produced from 1974 to 1983 and exports were made through the Citroen network. In 1985, the company introduced a second-generation Pony Super. Using Ford engines, it was developed with German company Inthelco, but in essence was an in-house project since Namco owned a controlling share of Inthelco. Even though this second generation was a much more sophisticated car, it failed to achieve significant sales and only a few hundred were produced until 1992. Production of the Pony Super and other Namco vehicles never actually ended and a third-generation Pony was introduced in 2003. In fact, the company not only has a factory capable of manufacturing its models but also maintains an exporting network to 14 countries. So, although it might not be sporting cutting-edge technology or reach production numbers that will send competitors running for the hills, the fact that the Pony Super is (incredibly) still on the production line, means that, despite the bureaucratic madness and foreign competition, technically there still is such a thing as a Greek car. So next time you find yourself in the company of petrolheads who think they know it all about cars, chances are you now know something they don’t.