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Since I was a kid I've been concerned with the Automobile industry of Greece, unfortunately back in those days my only sources of information were the people, actually pessimistic stubborn people who used to tell me that Greece wasn't a car manufacturer country, and despite I grew watching buses and even cars sometimes with some Greek brand names on them (like ELBO or Sarakakis among others) all the answers I got from the adults were, no Grigori, we don't manufacture cars in Greece, those names are importers even answers like it's all fake buddy, Greece doesn't have any industry......our only incomes are from tourism....well the feedback to all those answers is BS!!!! as in bull.... ;) . Though my disappointment vanished at once 10 years ago being a pubescent when an automobiles magazine reached my hands, it was dedicated entirely to the ELBO vehicles manufacturing industry located in Thessaloniki, where most of the buses we have nowadays in Athens or Thessaloniki (as well as in many Balkan countries, parts of Italy eastern Europe and even distant markets as Singapore Latin America and the middle east with older models) are built in a 100% not just assembled but made in Greece by Greek companies. After that and so far with the help of Internet my research on the issue continued and I can tell you guys and everyone, Greece indeed manufactures automobile vehicles.

Though our share in the international automobiles market is not that big and even in Greece the competition with foreign brands is hard some of our brands are still alive and some of them holding big promises. Though currently the main productions are focused on buses, jeeps, trucks or rural vehicles there are some plans to start making again cars, no foreign designed cars, but greek ones, as in the past. There is even a great sport car designed and made in 1992 that you won't believe your eyes, when some lines below, you'll be watching its picture.

Finally before finishing this, maybe for some people, boring introduction (that I needed to express, believe me now I feel better) I have to point out that this large guide is divided into brands (and there are many of them by the way) and beginning from its first days, since Greece believe it or not has been involved in this product industry from 1918!!!! Even before some of the nowadays leading countries. Well enough for now, let's get down to brass tacks. The funny part, enjoy it.
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Theologou

Theologou (full name appearing on vehicle badges was "N. Theologou") was one of the first vehicle manufaturers in Greece. It was created by Nikos Theologou, a Greek mechanic who had previously lived and worked in the US, and founded this company after he returned to Athens, Greece. Between 1918 and 1920 he designed and constructed a light passenger car with a Pierce 750 cc motorcycle engine (only one built). His company, nonetheless, produced a variety of bus and truck bodies, mostly on Ford chassis in the 1920s.



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Biamax

BIAMAX has perhaps been the best known Greek vehicle manufacturer, being, at the same time one of the biggest Greek companies at its time with three factories (in Athens, where its headquarters, Thessaloniki and Larissa, employing more than 2000) and several other auxilliary facilities throughout the country. Except for a large Greek company, BIAMAX became a leading industry in that country, in areas including Quality Assurance, technical training, process documentation and Research&Development.

Although its main activity was vehicle manufacture, some of its subsidiaries were also involved in areas like tourist services, exports of farm products and shipping.

The company with that name was founded in 1956, the name reflecting its original activity, as it started with production of bus bodies on Mercedes-Benz chassis (BIAMAX, stands for 'Biomihania Amaxomaton', or 'Vehicle Body Building Industry'; the name was retained although the company soon became a complete vehicle producer). The first chassis developed by BIAMAX was introduced in 1961. In the same year the famous 'R' series of coaches and inter-city buses was introduced. One of the earliest chassisless bus designs in the world, it was an engineering achievement involing novel approaches in suspension and elswhere, developed by the engineers A. Rizos (who lent his name initial to the series) and I. Dracoulis (who was responsible for its extremely elegant, streamlined design). Models R495 (inter-city bus) and R514 (coach) became common sights in the country, establishing the BIAMAX brand. In 1962 a trolleybus was introduced with CGE electricals, of which only one was built, serving Athens for years.

The very successful 'F' series of city and inter-city buses (named after Fostiropoulos initial, a designation used earlier as well) was introduced in 1968 employing a ladder-type chassis developed by BIAMAX).

The most common types produced were the F530 and F580, with several body variations for a variety of end uses. At the same time BIAMAX kept producing an extended range of bus and truck bodies, rolling stock, assembling 4x4's and tractors etc., with thousands of vehicles coming out of its factories, many of which were exported to a large number of countries, mainly in Europe, Asia and Africa. R580 types can be seen to this date working hard in the Middle East. Indeed, the legendary reliability of BIAMAX buses can be testified by the large number of surviving examples, most of them in excellent working condition. The company faced difficulties in the early 1980s when some Middle Eastern markets were lost but, mostly, due to a new law allowing import of used buses in Greece. It soon ceased production, focusing on vehicle import and distribution. Since 1999 all trading activity ceased as well, and the company exists ever since as a real estate management firm.

A technically advanced beauty: Biamax R514 (1961 model)


Also designed by Dracoulis: Biamax F600 trolleybus (1962 model)


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Sfakianakis

Sfakianakis group of companies is a Greek conglomerate with a wide range of activities employing (in 2005) over 1600 in three countries; its origins were based on vehicle manufacture. It was founded in 1961 succeeding earlier trading companies founded by the same family. Initially building bodies on imported chassis, it soon developed its own chassis family. The company's SS500 chassis ('SS' standing for 'Stratis Sfakianakis') was subsequently further developed, and a great variety of bus types was designed and built over it in the following years, with limited exports to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Other industrial activities included construction of truck bodies and Japanese Hino chassis assembly. The company was renamed Sfakianakis S.A. in 1993 and among the last types it designed and produced were the SS400 and SS380 minibuses and a new series of SS500 inter-city and coach variants. The Sfakianakis industrial division had managed to survive for decades without any state support, despite fierce competition from imports; a flood of cheaper imports, though, eventually made bus manufacture unprofitable. Production ceased in February 2006, after the group had very successfully diversified into other business areas including vehicle import and sales and the services sector.

Sfakianakis Police Bus, one of many specialized types developed for state authorities and organizations


Sfakianakis SS380L minibus (2003)


Sfakianakis SS500LF coach (2005)


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Saracakis

Saracakis Brothers group of companies is a major Greek Commercial and Industrial group, for two decades a traditional competitor to Biamax (between themselves the two companies virtually dominated the bus market in Greece). Two of the most talented Greek vehicle engineers who had worked for Biamax, A. Rizos and I. Dracoulis also worked for Saracakis, Dracoulis having designed the company's characteristic 'Σ' logo, recognizable anywhere in the country.

Ioannis Saracakis started his company in Thessaloniki in 1923 importing and selling vehicles and vehicle parts. In 1941 headquarters were moved to Athens, where the Group was formally created in 1954. Production of bus bodies on imported chassis started in 1962, but in 1966 the company introduced its own-developed chassis.

From then on, all Saracakis' own chassis types had designations starting with 'SB' (standing for 'Saracakis Brothers') the first being the SB55 line, on which a variety of city and inter-city buses were developed, followed by SB556, SB85 and SB95. Its first chassisless bus type was the SBAV of 1974, a type improved over the years up to the innovative SBAV90 of 1990. Exports were also made, mainly to the Middle East. In addition to building complete vehicles (which included light three-wheeler trucks), the company remained a major bus and truck body builder, also assembling 4x4's, tractors, motorbikes, construction equipment, etc.

The company boasts the world's first low-floor articulated bus.

Saracakis survived the storm of the early 1980s (opening of the market to used imports) that almost wiped out the Greek Commercial Vehicle industry, but its import and trading sectors became predominant. Construction of complete vehicles has stopped, but production of bodies continues to date, on a limited scale.



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Namco (the stubborness of these guys is funny but also optimistic)

Namco (National Motor Company of Greece) is a Greek vehicle manufacturer, a creation of the Kontogouris Brothers who have been in the automotive industry business since the 1950s.

The first efforts of the Kontogouris Brothers involved building light trucks called 'Hellas' in Germany. In 1957 Petros Kontogouris acquired rights to a production technology of a multi-purpose vehicle developed by Dr. Wilfried Fahr, who founded an engineering company in Switzerland. In 1961 Kontogouris created their first company called FARCO in Thessaloniki, Greece to produce the vehicle, called FARMOBIL. Ironically, this smart vehicle was not certified for the Greek market and all production was exported to several countries around the world. In 1963 the company was acquired by Chrysler who renamed it Chrysler Hellas S.A. In 1967 production in Greece was stopped by the U.S. company, and was transferred to other countries. Meanwhile, in 1961 ambitious plans were made by the Kontogouris Brothers for a new company (to be called Namco) with a big factory in Patras, Greece to produce under licence a German-designed (Neckar) three-wheeler truck and other vehicles, but were not materialized.

Namco would resurface in 1972, when a light passenger-utility vehicle called the 'Pony' was introduced in the Thessaloniki Trade Fair. The car, of rather basic technology, had been designed by Citroen on an 2CV platform as part of 'basic world car' project. Indeed, cars on the same basis were produced around the world from Iran to Portugal, but the Pony became by far the most successful. In 1974 Namco started business officially and production started in a new plant in Thessaloniki. The Pony, helped by a law giving tax breaks for light utility-passenger vehicles became an instant success, being the cheapest car in the market and, at the same time, an incredibly robust and practical automobile (about half a dozen Greek companies would follow Namco's example, with similar contraptions, none of which, though, came close to Pony's success). A large number of versions and facelifts followed, keeping the car up to standards. Almost 30,000 Pony's were produced, while exports to many countries around the world were made through Citroen network, as the car also bear the Citroen logo.


Namco Milicar 6x6 (1978)In 1978 Namco decided to move into other fields, introducing a series of very advanced 4x4 and 6x6 multi-purpose trucks featuring a novel Swiss-designed suspension system. A complete lineup was made for many uses, consisting of the 'Agricar', 'Milicar', 'Pyrcar' and 'Multi-trac' vehicles. It is somewhat of a mystery why those advanced vehicles had limited success, only small numbers having been ordered by Greek state authorities. Similarly Namco designed a number of military vehicles including the 'Tiger' and 'Aquilles' armored vehicles and 4x4's, none of which reached even the stage of complete prototype. It has been argued that it was simply the wrong time, since the Greek state favored a state company (ELBO) for its supplies in that period.


Namco Pony Super (1990 model)The first generation Pony was produced until 1983, after the law concerning taxation of similar vehicles had been changed. Plans to manufacture other cars under licence were not realized and for a moment it seemed that Namco would once more be out of business. But the company would resurface again with a completely new model, Pony Super, introduced in 1985. The second generation Pony had no connection with Citroen technology and was a much more modern car with Ford engines, coming in a large number of versions (950cc 45hp, 1100cc 55hp, 1300cc 69hp and 1600cc 54 hp Diesel, in two- and four-door arrangements). It was essentially developed by Namco, since Inthelco, a German company also involved in its development was majority-owned by Namco at the time. An ambitious plan was made to export the car to the U.S. with a 1900cc engine via Inthelco as the 'Desta' at a rate of 20.000 per year. However, the costs and prospects proved to be grossly miscalculated and the plan was abandoned. No matter how improved the new Pony was, it was still a far cry from the needs of the contemporary Greek market made of progressively more affluent and demanding consumers. Only a few hundred Pony Super's were built until 1992.

Once more, when it seemed that Namco would vanish, the company created one more chance for rebirth, as its founders were stubbornly attached to the car-making business. So, although they also diversified into imports and trade of vehicles keeping Namco alive, they transformed the company into a technology exporter, offering design and construction of vehicle producing miniplants (as an antidote, they argued, to the giant conglomerates created by globalism) together with the Pony and their 4x4 truck technology. In 1994, the first Pony Super's produced under licence in Bulgaria came out of the assembly plant in that country.

Namco is still alive today, indeed representing the stubbornness and vision of its creators. It is characteristic that production of the Pony Super and the trucks never "officially" ended, as the company maintains a factory ready to resume production. Actually, a "third-generation" Pony (in reality a Pony Super with minor improvements) was introduced in 2003. One who knows Namco's history, can only wait until the next dynamic resurfacing of the company.

Namco Milicar 6x6 (1978)


Namco Pony Super (1990 model)


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Neorion (Neorion my friend, you'll be interested with this one :) )

Neorion is one of the most historic Greek engineering companies, located in Ermoupolis, on the Greek island of Syros. Today, it is one of the few remaining major industrial corporations in that picturesque and nostalgic island town that used to be the industrial and commercial heart of Greece, before eclipsed by Piraeus in the late 19th century.

Neorion roots go back to a traditional shipyard on that island, known for the construction of ships and boats for use during the Greek revolution of the 1820s, as well as design and building of “modern battleships” for the new Greek kingdom in the decades that followed. The company that survives to date was legally founded in 1861 to technically support the “Greek Steamship lines Company”, initially employing, in addition to Greek technical staff, several mechanics from W. Europe. In the 1860s, in addition to ship building it already produced steam engines, boilers, pumps, heavy cannons, as well as its first steamship. A heavy steam engine of its own design and construction received attention when exhibited in an International Exhibition in Paris in 1878, while since 1892 the company produced all-metal steamships. In 1898 the name ‘Neorion’ (an ancient Greek word indicating a port facility for ship repair and construction) was adopted. Already during the second half of the 19th century it was the second most important Greek engineering company after the famous Basileiades machine and steam engine manufacturer in Piraeus. Other products of Neorion included a variety of machinery (some of it exported), engine parts and other specialized metal constructions for the Greek industry.

In the following decades Neorion faced many challenges that almost lead it into going out of business, but managed to survive, remaining one of the most important Greek shipyards. In 1972, under the ownership of the Greek millionaire G.Goulandris it acquired Enfield Automotive Ltd., a British company involved in the design and construction of electric cars. A new company, ‘Enfield-Neorion E.P.E.’ was formed, headquartered in Piraeus, and basic production was transferred to Syros (the vehicles being finished in the United Kingdom). A young Greek designer, Georgios Michael (later credited with the design of several Greek vehicles) was employed with the new company. The ‘E 8000 Bicini’ (with that spelling) light jeep-type vehicle introduced in 1973 was a Greek design, but was not produced due to bureaucratic hurdles created by Greek tax services, connected with its electric power. In 1974 a “pure” Neorion development was undertaken, to materialize a vision of G. Goulandris himself, of a luxury limousine with strong 4x4 character. A team of Greek engineers including Georgios Michael worked in Syros for 8 months, leading to the creation of the ‘Chicago’, introduced in 1974. The car, built on Jeep Wagoneer chassis base was extremely controversial, being a huge limousine with retro-styling, featuring hard-core 4x4 characteristics and was put down even by its own designer. Indeed, Georgios Michael would later describe it as “mountain dinosaur”. Today, in view of the 4x4 passenger cars that have appeared ever since, as well as the breed of luxury SUV’s, the car does not look terribly strange anymore; one could actually dare say that it in a way it was ahead of its time. A production line had been started, when a change of Greek law condemned the market prospects of the car. Two were completed and sold to customers before the venture was terminated in 1976. One still survives to date, exhibited in the Thessaloniki Technological Museum.

Neorion shipyards itself continued its course. In 1997 it acquired another big shipyard, Elefsis Shipyards, while it diversified into new fields (like the construction of luxury mega-yachts, and even subcontracting work for aerospace companies) and is fully active today in the form of the powerful Neorion Group of Companies, having entered a new era in its long history.

1974 Neorion Chicago


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ELBO

ELBO (standing for “Elliniki Biomihania Ohimaton”, or Hellenic Vehicle Industry), is a Greek vehicle manufacturer. This company is one that managed to survive the evolutions that basically wiped out the Greek motor industry in the 1980s and 1990s, as it was the only state-owned company in its field.

It was founded in Thessaloniki with the name Steyr Hellas S.A. and until the early 1980s the Austrian company owned a significant part of its capital. The Greek state acquired a majority of the company in 1986, when it was renamed ELBO. Its original activity in the 1970s was assembly, with progressively increasing local content, of trucks, motorbikes and farm tractors.

Orders by the Greek state soon gave momentum to the company as it undertook huge orders for trucks and buses by the Greek military and a number of state and city authorities (some say, at the expense of other Greek companies).

The Greek company's first original design was a military bus introduced in 1981. In the same year it undertook the construction of “its own” ‘Leonidas’ Armored Personnel Carrier.

In 1987 ELBO introduced Leonidas-2, Hundreds were built, while a number of different versions were proposed.

In the years that followed ELBO became a major producer of military and civilian trucks for a variety of uses, military jeeps, customized vehicles and machinery, and buses, with significant exports.

ELBO-bodied buses exported to Singapore in 1996 were welcomed by that country’s press as the first low-floor buses in the wider region.

A number of ambitious plans for company development and new products were not realized, as the state character of the company linked it to effects from government changes and mismanagement.

ELBO rather surprised many in 1998, introducing an extremely advanced Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle of its own design and development, named Kentaurus. However, the vehicle to this date has not been ordered by the Greek military due to reduced budgets. Another step towards original developments was its initiative for the creation of a light sports car, which was assigned to TWT, a German-Greek engineering company. The prototype of the 'ELBO Aletis', an attractive car designed by Pininfarina with Volkswagen engine, was introduced in the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung in Frankfurt in 2001, but was never produced.

In 2000 ELBO was partly privatised, when the Greek Mytilineos metal and engineering group acquired 43% and undertook the company management. The fate of this company in a new age of globalism and intense international competition, anymore depends on its own creativity and resources.

ELBO C93800 Europe (1993)


























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Petropoulos

Petropoulos (the full name of the company is Petros Petropoulos A.E.B.E.) is one of the 'historic' Greek engine and vehicle manufacturers. It was founded in Thessaloniki in 1922 (its origins being even older, from a workshop involved in metal processing and church bell manufacture, the bell being the company logo to this date) but in 1948 moved its headquarters to Athens. Before WWII it engaged in sales of commercial vehicles as well as rebuilding of engines and truck assembly. After WWII it assembled U.S. Jeeps and truck types, and in 1956 it introduced 'its own' farm tractor family (Petropoulos models Π-35 and Π-55, built for years) which were actually based on U.S. International Harvester designs. Other fields included engines (it became one of the leading Greek Diesel engine manufacturers, at some point the second largest after Malkotsis), generators, forklift trucks (the well-known Dynalift family of models) and 4x4 trucks - all of own design and development. Its 'smart' 4x4 Unitrak/Polytrak/Militrak family was introduced in 1976 and found many uses around the country including the Greek military (Militrak, in limited numbers). Truck production ceased in 1984, while the company successfully diversified into other areas including imports and services. An effort was made in 1994 to resume truck production, based on a Swiss (Bucher) design as Militrak II Duro, however the proposed vehicle was not adopted by the Greek army.

Petropoulos Unitrak 4x4 (1976 model)


Petropoulos Π-55 tractor (original model introduced in 1956)


A later version of Petropoulos Π-55 tractor


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Malkotsis

Malkotsis is the trade name for 'Technika S.Malkotsis A.E.', which has historically been the most important Greek engine manufacturer. Located in Piraeus, before WWII it produced various types of industrial machinery and Diesel Engines. In that respect, it was one of several engine (mostly Diesel and semi-Diesel) manufacturers that flourished in Greece in the 1920s and (mostly) 1930s, like Dimadis-Kanakis in Volos, Peteinaris in Kalamata, Siderides, BIO, Koutroufis and many others in Athens, etc. After WWII Malkotsis almost entirely concentrated on Diesel Engines (always, of its own development), soon becoming the largest company in its field. Malkotsis engines found use in a variety of industrial applications, while its boat-powering engine models became legendary for their reliability. Its EM-4 series was specifically designed for powering of vehicles and was employed in Malkotsis' own 45 hp farm tractor model (Malkotsis EM-4) introduced in 1962 and produced for years. A series of electric motors was produced as well. The company faced financial problems later, due to competition from cheaper imports, and was acquired in 1991 by Drakos-Polemis A.E., a pump manufacturing company which used all Malkotsis infrastructure for its production purposes.

Malkotsis EM-4 tractor (1962)


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Scavas (Guys, this one is a real... :eek2: )

Scavas is the name of sports cars created by Greek engineer Vassileios Scavas. With precious experience gained from his work at Biamax, he started his first car design in 1969, undertaking the entire vehicle development. Scavas 1, a sports car with a 1200cc NSU engine was introduced in 1973. The car got a registration licence, but was not produced. His second model, the sharp-looking exotic Scavas 2 was introduced in 1992, and was intended for production. Once more, although the car got a registration licence, no permit for production was awarded by the state, for bureaucratic reasons. Scavas 3 of 1996 never got past the design stage.

Scavas 2 (1992)



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AK Hellas

AK Hellas (the initials standing for the full name of the company, 'Aggelopoulos-Karkanis O.E.') was a Greek manufacturer of light trucks and other metal products. It designed and produced two basic types of vehicles - all three-wheelers with 50cc engines, taking advantage of a favorabe classification as "motorbikes" according to Greek law . One group of models were light trucks with "motorcycle" structure (steering and controls), a type of vehicle also produced in Greece by MEBEA (by far the most successful), Mego, Alta, Saracakis, Pitsos (a big home appliances manufacturer), Markal, Naxos and others. The other group of models were "proper" micro-trucks, with "automobile" structure of steering, controls etc. It was in this category that AK Hellas became the biggest producer in Greece, leaving behind MEBEA, Delta (a product of Attica), Minicar, Zamba and other smaller Greek manufacturers.

The company survives to date as Aggelopoulos Group still manufacturing metal products.

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Attica (automobiles)

Attica was the first brand name of vehicles produced by Bioplastic S.A., a company created in Moschato, Athens by Georgios Dimitriadis, an important figure in Greek automotive history. Attica started producing a light three-wheeler passenger car (model 200) in 1963.

The model became very popular in Greece and is fondly remembered to this date. Another Greek company, Alta, soon claimed some market share in the same category, introducing a similar vehicle in 1968.

Attica 200 was nonetheless produced until 1972. In 1968 Bioplastic utilized the Attica 200 design to create a light three-wheeler truck brand named Delta (oddly enough, the rear-half of the 200 had became the front-half of Delta!), sold with modest success.

In 1977 Dimitriadis created a new car company (DIM Motor) to produce the DIM, an entirely new passenger automobile.

Attica 200, at home in the old part of a Greek provincial town


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DIM (automobiles)

DIM Motor Company, a Greek automobile maker, was created by Georgios Dimitriadis as a successor to his earlier company, Bioplastic S.A. that had produced the Attica automobile. An effort was made this time to entirely design and develop by own means a modern car.

The model was finally introduced in the Geneva Motor Show in 1977 and for this reason received more publicity than most Greek vehicles, appearing in many international publications. Plans were also made for more versions, including a sports coupe. However, due to the high costs involved and the car's poor prospects in the Greek market (and despite an effort to facelift the model), the car never reached true production. The whole project was abandoned in 1981, having been the last venture of Georgios Dimitriadis in the automotive industry.

DIM 652 (1977 model)


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AutoDiana

AutoDiana was a Greek truck manufacturer based in Thessaloniki, in operation between 1975 and 1984. Its main product was the 'Unicar' model (not to be confused with a Spanish body-builder with the same name), a rather heavy-looking 4x4 multi-purpose truck. This robust vehicle had a payload of 1500 Kg.

Its fate, along with similar Greek multi-purpose trucks like the Petropoulos Unitrak, the Agricola, the Motoemil Autofarma, the Balkania Autotractor, the Namco Agricar and others, was sealed when a change of Greek law in 1984 modified tax treatment for such 'farm' vehicles. Production was terminated the same year after a fairly successful career among customers in the Greek countryside.

AutoDiana Unicar (1975)


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Balkania

Balkania was the trade name of 'K. Zaharopoulos A.B.E.E.' a Greek industrial and trading company based in Athens that produced 4x4 jeep-type vehicles and 4x4 trucks.

In 1975 it designed and introduced its own 'Autotractor' model, a 4x4 multi-purpose truck with metal cabin and a payload of 1500 Kg. In 1979 the model was redesigned, with a modern synthetic (glass-fiber reinforced composite) cabin. It was produced, as some similar Greek vehicles, until a change of a favorable tax treatment in 1984. The vehicle was modestly successful, as it exhibited certain quality problems.

Balkania Autotractor 4x4 truck (Balkania-own development)


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MAVA-Renault

MAVA Company is the Greek importer of Renault automobiles. In 1979 it decided to enter the car-production business introducing a passenger-utility car, a type then very popular in Greece for tax cetagorization reasons. MAVA assigned the creation of the car to Georgios Michael, a Greek designer credited with the design of Neorion Chicago, as well as that of several other Greek vehicles. Michael and his team completed the development and prototype construction (on Renault mechanicals) in record-time and the car, named Farma, was introduced the same year. MAVA had insisted that the car should be presented as a "Renault model" and thus the prototype was tested and approved by the French company. The Farma, accordingly bearing the Renault logo, was produced in a variety of versions, including "passenger" and "van" types. It had a 4-cylinder 845cc 34hp engine and could reach a top speed of about 110Km/h. A total of 3500 were built, including the "pure jeep-type" Σ model introduced in 1983, and some minor face-lifts. The attractive car had also received a modest publicity in the European press. By 1985 the Greek law had changed affecting the market for this type of vehicles, thus making their production unprofitable. Michael and his team then worked on a completely new model; the much more advanced (and particularly attractive) new Farma Change was introduced in 1985. By that time, though, MAVA had scrapped the whole project and only one car, the prototype of the new model, was built.

Designed by Georgios Michael and almost looking like a "true" Renault: MAVA-Renault Farma F (van)


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MEBEA

MEBEA was an important Greek vehicle manufaturer, producer of light trucks, passenger automobiles, motorcycles, motorbike engines and bicycles.

MEBEA was founded in Athens in 1960 by the merger of two companies assembling motorbikes since 1954, and its initials stand for Messogiakai Epiheiriseis Biomihanias, Emporiou kai Antiprosopeion (Mediterranean Enterprises for Industry, Commerce and Representations). It grew to be a significant Greek company with two factories in the north of Athens. Its most successful products were light three-wheeler thucks.

that became a common sight all over the country for almost three decades and were exported (in commercial and passenger variants) to Asian markets.

Apart from the previously mentioned vehicles that were of its own development (MEBEA technology was also employed by another Greek motorcycle and three-wheeler manufacturer, Mego), the company cooperated with Reliant of Britain, starting licence production of the latter's TW9 heavier three-wheeler truck in 1970 and Robin three-wheeler passenger car in 1974. In 1979 MEBEA introduced the Fox light utility vehicle (in line with contemporary Greek 'fashion'), also designed by Reliant. In addition to the motorized vehicle construction mentioned above, other activities during MEBEA history included motorbike engine production mostly for export, and the operation of the bicycle division producing a range of bicycle models.

The company faced problems in the early 1980s when certain Asian markets were lost, but the final blow came when Greek law stopped 'favoring' light passenger-utility vehicles, essentially killing the Fox model (along with about half a dozen similar Greek automobiles). In 1983 production of the Fox was stopped and soon MEBEA, a company associated with a wide variety of light vehicles that "served" thousands of Greeks, ceased to exist.

Small but tough: MEBEA ST150 (1970)


Used by the Hellenic Postal Service: MEBEA Hermes (1970)


Built for Southeast Asia: MEBEA Bingo (1972)


A Greek workhorse: MEBEA 206 (1977)


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Motoemil

Motoemil (not to be confused with companies from other countries with the same name) was a Greek truck manufacturer based in Thessaloniki. It is named after Emilios Antoniades who started his business, together with his brother Konstantinos, by constructing crude-made trucks assembled from motorcycle and automobile parts. By the early 1960s, like other similar Greek manufacturers, they were already developing and building complete "automobile" three-wheeler trucks. Motoemil was one of the first of its kind in Northern Greece and soon became the largest in that region, its products sold throughout the country.

Motoemil was one of the few Greek producers that survived the end of the "three-wheeler era" in that country, as it had developed a completely new breed of heavier, four-wheel trucks in the mid-1970s. The Autofarma model was an all-terrain truck with 2 tonne payload perfectly placed in the "farm truck" category according to Greek law. In that respect, it was similar to other Greek vehicles (all locally developed), like the Agricola, the AutoDiana Unicar, the Balkania Autotractor, the EBIAM, the Petropoulos Polytrak and others. However, the Autofarma was produced in numbers exceeding those of all others combined, sold through a network of dealers throughout the country. It was simultaneously a very rugged, reliable all-terrain vehicle requiring minimal maintenance costs (suited for the extremely harsh treatment farm vehicles were exposed to), with a significant payload, a relatively comfortable cabin and a reasonably smooth road behavior for longer drives. A minor facelift was done on the model in 1979, but by the mid-1980s this category of vehicles was not competitive anymore due to changes in Greek Law combined with more "sophisticated" demands of Greek customers, met by competitively priced imported types. This was a change the Northern Greek company was not able to cope with, ceasing all truck production in 1985.

Motoemil three-wheeler truck (1967 model)


Motoemil Autofarma (1977 model)


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Ros (vehicles)

Ros (its badge was only in Greek, the brand spelled 'ΡΩΣ') was the trade name of vehicles produced by the Greek company 'Stavros Konstantinides O.E.', based in Athens. The Ros three-wheeler trucks were the most successful of its kind in Greece, having been produced by the thousands. Ros surpassed in sales even "Greek classics" like Alta and the characteristic shape of its trucks could be seen for several years in every corner of the country. And for good reason: The 'Rosaki' (meaning 'little Ros', as was fondly referred as by its owners) was one of the most robust and reliable vehicles ever used in Greece. In 2006, 30 years after the end of three-wheeler production, several Ros were still in use in excellent condition, more than any other three wheeler type.

The company roots go back to imports of used German motorcycles after WWII by S. Konstantinides and transformation of motorcycles into crude trucks. The 'Alfa-Ros' brand was introduced in 1966 when S. Konstantinides cooperated with A. Apostolopoulos, designing and producing 'proper' (unrelated to motorcycles) three-wheeler trucks. In 1968 A. Apostolopoulos made his own company (producing the 'Apollon' truck, similar in appearance and almost as reliable) and thus S. Konstantinides continued with a new brand, 'Ros'. The Ros trucks featured metal cabins and 1000cc and 1500cc engines. They were all front engined in contrast to most other rear-engined Greek three wheelers. A realtive of the company founder, Ilias Konstantinides also made his own 'Ilion' brand producing Ros designs. Ros terminated production in 1976 when the type could no longer suit the needs of Greek professionals and competition from imported trucks became stiffer.

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SAM (vehicles)

The name SAM (not to be confused with S.A.M., a Swedish automotive company) stands for Stephanos A. Mbaltas (badge 'ΣΑΜ', in Greek, appearing in the logo), the founder of this Greek company, one of several that produced three-wheeler trucks in that country, in business between 1966 and 1974.

The chassis developed by SAM was very robust and some of its trucks were surviving 30 years after the company went out of business.

SAM truck (1966 model)


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Styl Kar

STYL KAR (its logo written in Greek as ΣΤΥΛ ΚΑΡ) was named after its founder, the very talented engineer Stylianos Karakatsanis. Its entire history is representative of a large number of Greek companies who were engaged in the construction of simple utility vehicles.

The first transformations of motorcycles into "trucks" in the country probably took place in the early 1940s by workshops in Athens, when Greece was still under occupation by the axis powers. Immediately after the war a large number of British (Norton, BSA), Italian (Moto Guzzi), and mostly German (Zundapp, BMW) motorcycles were left, along with destroyed U.S. Willy's and other military vehicles. Involving a lot of engineering ingenuity, parts from different vehicles were joined together into contraptions being half-motorcycles half-trucks with remarkably efficient results. Soon, there was "production", with parts being more or less standardized. Progressively motorcycle parts were replaced by automobile parts, power most frequently being provided by Volkswagen air-cooled engines. By the late 1950s this process started evolving into complete developement of three-wheeler trucks that had nothing to do with motorcycles anymore (according to Greek law, though, three wheelers did not fall into the same tax and other categories as four-wheeler automobiles). STYL KAR is considered a pioneering company in the development of the Greek three-wheeler truck technology, adopted by other companies. It is also one of the few that evolved into a real industrial corporation.

Stylianos Karakatsanis started business in Thessaloniki after WWII repairing and selling ex-military motorcycles, and, soon transforming them into light trucks. By 1959 STYL KAR's first "real" three-wheeler trucks were produced. In 1965 it moved to Athens, and new, advanced designs were introduced. During the military dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974) laws for type certification were made more flexible, while three-wheelers enjoyed a favorable tax treatment. That resulted in the development of the industry, with companies like STYL KAR, Alta, Ros, Apollon, Babis, SAM, MotorCar, Atlas, Motoemil, Pan-Car and others multiplying production, this kind of vehicle becoming a common sight all over the country. STYL KAR built a new, larger factory in 1967 and soon its most successful model, the '1300' was introduced. The company produced thousands of three-wheeler trucks, while in 1975 it developed a two-tonne four wheel truck to replace the three-wheelers that were by that time becoming less appealing to the Greeks (this new model finally not produced). In 1979 it developed a light sports car and worked on building a whole new factory in Thiva to produce it. However, a huge debt discovered by tax auditors gave the final blow to a company that had progressively lost its basic market. All plans were abandoned and STYL KAR, the company that pioneered perhaps the most characteristic Greek vehicle, went out of business altogether.

Styl Kar 1300 (1968 model) in a company showroom


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What about Kioleidis? Is he considered a truck manufacturer or does he simply manufacture the bodies of the vehicles without the engine (τις καρότσες δηλαδή )? He is one of the biggest.

I also know of a Nissan factory in Volos. Not a Greek design but they were making cars for quite some time too...

Also, I felt emotionally touched with the three wheeled vehicles.



Back in the 1970's, one of these was being used by the milkman in my neighbourhood...

Now we have an abundance of supermarkets, but the image of the three wheel vehicle stopping in front of the house and the milkman with the big moustache stoping to deliver the milk and yogourts, was something else...

Now I am not sure thet three-wheeled vehicles exist anymore in the streets of Athens. The new generations of profesionals like the SUV style vehicles, given the new financing schemes (i.e. loans or leasing) offered by the banks...
 

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Neorion's monster machine :laugh:




Neorion is the ancient name for shipyards. The site where boats were built.


Neorion Syros Shipyards are makers of luxury cruise vessels today. More their forte, I'd say.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes Grigori, it was actually in Volos and it was Theocharakis Nissan plant where all the Sunny models you see riding now in Greece have been manufactured, after that sometime in the 90`s it ceased production and aimed all his efforts in just importing. Though it was Nissan a Japan designed car manufactured in Greece.

Now as for pure 100% greek vehicles currently there're ELBO and until a few months ago Sfakianakis. The former planning the design of a sport and even a civil private usage car I.X.

I think though Greece taxation system should loosen and ease thus the reflourishing of NAMCO or look someday riding in Greece as well as in other nations the state of the art SCAVAS. Or even see new companies born; it's all a good econopic policy issue that could bring Greece takes its good share in both the local and the international markets as Spain did in the 80's and 90's with SEAT and now you can see its models all around the world.
 

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I didn't know any of these cars. Good threat¡¡

I've been told that diesel passenger-cars are forbidden in Greece. Is that true?.
 

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Wow so amazing to see all the various ventures and exactly how long Greece has been involved in the automobile industry.

Too bad. Small countries like Sweden and the Czech Republic have great auto industry's while all the various forays Greeks made didn't succed. And it's harder now with all the cheap labour everywhere in Asia and such to compete.

Grigori, can you outline for us what plans you alluded to in the future? Anymore pics would be fabulous too.

GREAT THREAD!!!
 

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Dear GrigorisSokratis thank you for your great and very informative page, but you did not mentioned the Alfa Romeo 33 1.3 that was manufactured in Greece in the 80s and of which the 1.3 model was only made in Greece. Also you did not mention the GM Opel Ascona, Opel Kadett which was made by GM Hellas. It will be nice to see some photos of these vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you Demis for your info. But were these models manufactured in a 100% in Greece or they were just assembled? Because this thread is made for exclusively Greek designed vehicles as well as manufactured in a 100% in Greece.

If they're so I'll gladly make all the required research in order to have them added here.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
ELBO is the current main Greek vehicles manufacturing company. It manufactures buses, trucks, jeeps, military vehicles and there some plans on developing a new civil car of complete Greek design as well as a sport model.

Since it's a half private (Mytilinaios group) owned company and half state owned I think there won't be found any taxation hampers this time as happened with other Automobile companies throughout the 88 years of automobile manufacturing history that kept Greek companies from being a leader in international automobile markets like say, Italy a country with similar number of companies throughout history.

Here you can see two pictures of the Thessaloniki manufacturing plant.



 

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Demis said:
Dear GrigorisSokratis both makes were manufactured in Greece, hence the Alfa Romeo's 1.3 model.
He means this thread is about Greek auto companies and their 100% designed and developed and manufactered in Greece stuff.
 

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Few years ago I read about a car called Kallista that was to be manufactured at a factory that was going to be build at Kilkis. Does anyone know any more regarding this project?
 

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zeek

Hello all, interesting article about the Greek motor industry. I have visited the islands and the mainland many times over the last 20 years and have not seen most of the vehicles featured. On the island of Poros many of the three wheelers are still in use, mainly green Mazda 1500 (not featured in the article, where they manufactured in Greece?), also there are 2 3 wheelers painted orange and blue (1 restored and on the island and 1 derelict in a ditch just outside Galatis on the mainland), don't know what make are but will take photographs on my next visit (could be a Motoemil or Sam, but more likely to be a Styl Kar as the restored version is heavily chromed!).
I am interested in the Reliant connection with Mebea, interested to know if any of the the Reliant 3 wheelers are still in use particularly the pickup versions on the Regal and the Greek versions of the TW9 Ant (the Mebea ST150 or Mebea 1200?)
Information and pictures greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
You surely traveled in the Greek national brand ELBO as a large percentage of Athens and Thessaloniki bus units (and Trolleys in Athens too) are of that company.

Also you rather have seen at least one (and many more believe me) Nissan Sunny built in Volos, Thessaly (some 300 kms north of Athens and 6th largest city of Greece).
 

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Intresting report on the subject!! Of course for the lack of aytomobile industry the Greek State is responsible.....Most of the times aytomobiles were something like an "enemy" for our politicians. Of course we CAN'T have auto industry in Greece when bureaucracy won't help ANY effort.
Of course another reason (resulted by the efforts of our politicians again) was the size of the Greek car market. It was an indifferent market of a small country all the way till the mid-'70s where something was about to happen. After 1976 a great raise in sales took place and the Greek car market seemed to have good perspectives for further growth.
When, in 1978, sales (for the first time) exceeded the 100.000 cars, the then government started to worry..... With the excuse of the enviromental polution had "to take measures" against the growth in car sales (wich anyway most of them had been sold in Athens) i.e. to reduse in the near future the volume of automobiles (mainly) in the Capital of Greece (even today Athens stands for almost over of the 50% of car sales in the country).
One good idea was,of course, the doubling in taxes!! (διπλασιασμος φορων).
That happened in mid-1979. The whole idea was quite simple...."50% up taxes- 50% down sales"!!!!!! Quite a bright policy!!!
At that time one of the most important projects made it's first steps. Not other than the Nissan Factory in Volos.
But in the first year of full operation of the new policy against automobiles(1980) the market went down from almost 88.000, in 1979, to 35.000 cars!!!
Of course Nissan Factory did not went to business with that in mind!!!! So immediatly had to reduce production. The government itself downgrated one of the most important investments for the country!!!!!
Next government (in 1981) continued the previous policy against automobiles and the Greek market during the 80's was suffering! Same with the Greek car industry (the diffrence is that the industry wasn't suffering at all.....THEY Killed it once and for all!!!!!). Nissan in Japan also had in mind our country as a strategic point in Europe for a big investment (by the Parent Company). When they approach the then new-goverment for the whole project to take place the goverment requested 51% of the control of the project!!!!!!! Maybe they had not realised what it was about!
Of course Nissan-Teokar in Volos made it up till the mid-90’s when finally had to run out of business thanx to all the previous policies…and NOBODY even tried or even cared about keep that important plant in life!
As for the rest of the important efforts by some visionary people in Greece for a decent car industry (as Farma by Mava or the legendery Pony by Namco) the state always had the way NOT to help them!!! (some of the reasons have been mentioned in previous posts). The worst of all is that nowadays no major car manufacturer ever approach Greece for an important investment and never will. The game is lost!!!!!!
 

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Quite an interesting approach prisma. Still, I would like to ask:
Doesn't this tax apply only to imported cars, or generally to cars?

It would be great to have an automobile industry in Greece, it produces so much jobs, wealth, innovation and something useful in the end (a car).

I say, it is never too late.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Of course look at China. Never had a serious automobiles industry and now....well it's entering in the game field.

Also other countries that never produced cars (even in the Eu and Eurozone) are becoming car builders. We are great candidates indeed. Why not?

We got the nessesary human assets and capacity, it's just a TAX cut issue.
 
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