Disco Drive: The Anadol STC-16, Turkey's Innovative Homegrown Sports Car

Odds are you've never heard of the Anadol STC-16 but for young Turks coming of age in the 1970s, the sleek, innovative, homegrown sports coupe holds a special place in their hearts.

Though a mere 176 of the rear-wheel-drive fastbacks were made between 1973 and 1976, the Anadol STC-16 has staked its place in history for being the first completely Turkish-designed sports car. Turkish designer Eralp Noyan, a graduate of the Royal Fine Arts Academy in Belgium, was charged with the onerous task of creating a “halo car” for the Anadol brand.

The Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper are examples of such cars. As well as waving the flag for Anadol, Turkey's leading domestic automotive brand, the car had to be competitive in international rallies while offering a prestigious option for the nation's wealthy young movers & shakers.

Working with limited resources, constrained by a low budget and under immense political pressure, Noyan somehow managed to produce a trio of prototypes by the end of 1972. Named “STC-16” - some sources state the acronym stood for “Sport Turkish Car 1600” - and displaying design cues inspired (according to Noyan) by Britain's legendary Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane, the prototypes breezed through performance and crash testing. The first production examples rolled out of Otosan Otomobil Sanayii's plant in Istanbul and arrived in showrooms in April of 1973.

As Noyan was restricted to raiding the Ford parts bin (Otosan was and still is closely associated with Ford of Europe), the STC-16 was powered by a 4-cylinder, 1600cc Ford Mexico engine and its transmission system was similar to those used by some of British Ford's higher-performance Cortina and Capri models.

The use of proven drivetrain components served the STC-16 well on the rally car circuit where it won a number of events in Europe and Turkey. It also found favor with the country's political and business elite; basically the only class of buyers who could afford it. One curious fact about the STC-16 was its color: the vast majority of cars were finished in bruight and sunny “Alanya Yellow.”

Having reached and/or surpassed most of its original expectations, the Anadol STC-16 was doomed to failure due to circumstances wholly beyond Anadol's control. Introduced in early 1973, the pricey sportster hit the market just as the 1973 global oil crisis struck. The sharp spike in oil prices crippled the vehicle in two ways: it already had a reputation as a gas-guzzler, and the increased cost of manufacturing the car's fiberglass body panels (fiberglass is a petrochemical product) negated its profitability.

In the event, most of the 176 Anadol STC-16s date from the 1973 model year. By 1975, sales and production had slowed to a virtual standstill and the STC-16 was officially discontinued. Though the Anadol STC-16 is today only a footnote in automotive history, it retains an important place in Turkish pop culture. Featured in domestic films and TV commercials, the car achieved an astonishing level of exposure and due to its non-rusting body and well-heeled ownership base, quite a few have survived to the present day. Though it may have been Turkish, the Anadol STC-16 was no turkey. (images via Flickr users snowypictures, tuncaserver, and canburak)