Innovative ideas which were way ahead of their time

They say there is nothing sadder than a good idea that falls flat because its time has yet to come. This was the case with what is probably the most interesting of all the Greek car manufacturers, Enfield-Neorion. Neorion is based in Ermoupolis, on the Cycladic island of Syros, which has a long history in shipbuilding stretching back to the 19th century and is today one of Greece’s busiest shipyards. In the 1970s, under the ownership of Yiannis «John» Goulandris, the company made a bid to enter the car industry. In the 1960s, Goulandris founded Enfield Automotive in the UK and developed an electric car. A new company, Enfield-Neorion was formed and production was moved fromk the UK to the Cycladic island of Syros. The Greek-design electric-powered E 8000 Bicini was introduced in 1973 but never made it to the production line mainly because of bureaucratic hurdles concerning its electric engine. In 1974, the company came up with an original, if not revolutionary, car concept for the time. The Chicago was an off-road luxury limousine. The car was built on the Jeep Wagoneer chassis and was extremely controversial, as it tried to combine the comfort and finesse of a limousine with the rugged off-road capabilities of a jeep – in fact the car was even ridiculed by members of its own production team. Although a manufacturing line was set up, changes in Greek law condemned its sales prospects. Only two were produced before the venture was terminated in 1976, one of them is on display at the Technical Museum at Thessaloniki. As was the case with most Greek manufacturers, Neorion’s ventures into the automobile industry were brought to an end because of endless red tape and the lack of competitiveness. However, given the ever-increasing popularity of luxury SUVs today as well as electric cars, one can argue that Neorion’s biggest problem was simply poor timing.