What did you do with Uncle Doblo?

Osman Ozarslan

Volkswagen, using the pandemic as an excuse, but mainly due to the tensions between Turkey and the EU, has removed its investment in Turkey from its program. Similarly, Honda completely closed its factory in Turkey last year. Indo-Chinese subsidiary brands such as Mahindra and TATA, on the other hand, have not made any investments to realize the cheap automobile dream in Turkey, which has been a gimmick for years.

On the other hand, it is now the most cliché of car conversations that the AKP regime, despite all the domestic-national automobile stories, loves to import automobiles like everything else, so that with the money paid by the user in Turkey, a car is bought by the state and a car by the banks. sentence.

All of these are mostly the economic aspects of the business and, as you know, at the beginning of Turkey, who is also a good economist,rest in peace my people I know what I’m doing‘ said a president. In a word, the fact that the brands we have mentioned so far do not come to Turkey or show sufficient favor is an economic issue, but the transfer of the production of Doblo, which has recently been released to the market, from Turkey to Spain deserves to be considered as a socio-cultural issue.

Let’s look at this now:

Founded under the leadership of Vehbi Koç, TOFAŞ unloads the first Murat 124 with chassis number 00001 in 1971. In a short time, 50 thousand production takes place, everyone is in the queue to buy Murat. In 1977, Bursa-made Murat 124s started to be exported to Egypt, 75 cars were sent in the first batch, and then exports reached thousands and tens of thousands in the following years. Murat 124 is followed by the sparrow, falcon, hawk and eagle models, which will be known as the 131 and later bird series. All the vehicles produced by Tofaş are loved, loved and used.

The engineering of these vehicles does not belong to TOFAŞ, the Fiat of Turkey. However, among Fiat’s models, vehicles suitable for Turkey’s socio-cultural and economic structure are presented to the market with a marketing strategy that is also suitable for Turkey’s conditions.

For example, in the 1970s, automobile use among women was negligible, while men appeared in large vehicles such as Chevrolet and Impala. Murat 124 to Turkey Miss Murat and women are seated at the steering wheel in advertisements. As a simple vehicle with low cylinder power but low fuel consumption for low-income and middle-income people, Tofaş is actually like the Turkish version of Ford T, it soon turns into an object of desire.

As a matter of fact, everyone knocks on TOFAŞ’s door to become the dealer of such a competitive product. Bernard Nahum, who was the CEO of TOFAŞ in those years, stipulates that every dealer will also provide spare parts and service, and the problem of congestion and after-sales services in the dealership application will be solved to a large extent.

In the 1970s, in the days when the famous Turkey “needed 70 cents”, TOFAŞ developed the spare parts factory OPAR and ended the import of spare parts, thus increasing the second-hand service life of TOFAŞ vehicles, as well as a cultural phenomenon and close proximity. to modified Apache at times[1] A network of spare parts “from free to less expensive” is also established.

From the 1970s to the 90s, TOFAŞ not only followed all the technological innovations, but also took an important place in the social fabric of Bursa, Tofaş SAS basketball team, Motor Sports team, Wrestling and Volleyball team, education, museum(s)…

In the 1990s, with the Tempra series, the factory started mass production with a robot (Koca Yusuf) and automobiles began to be digitized, and in this way, Tofaş succeeded in exporting a car produced in Turkey to Europe (Tempra) for the first time in 1995.


Since the 2000s, the Siena/Albea series, designed by Brazil but produced under Fiat’s patent, fails due to the economic conditions in Turkey and the world. However, Mithat Ünlüol, an engineer working in the Bursa factory, suggested to the CEO of the time to add Turkish-specific lines to Siena. His suggestion is simple, the population in Turkey is overweight, especially those sitting in the back cannot be comfortable, so is it possible to design a car with a wider back than the front? At first, the suggestion is found illogical, but considering the sociology of Turkey, it is accepted and the vehicle is designed and put into production. This variant model, which was launched under the Albea brand, gains a very important success in the market.

But the real success and Turkishization will come with Doblo. Doblo, whose mold design was made in Italy, is a multifunctional vehicle that can be used both for passenger, commercial and transportation (load up to 800 kg, 5 passengers). From the mold design stage, more than 100 engineers take part in the development of Doblo, the production patent is given to Turkey and the product is produced all over the world. made in Turkey It is offered for sale with a seal.

When the product is ready for production, there is a bank crisis and a devaluation due to the famous constitutional launch crisis in Turkey on February 28. For this reason, the vehicle is produced for export in the first place, and 90 percent of the produced vehicle is exported in 2001, targeting an income of approximately 1 billion dollars (which is largely realized).

“The most striking news of 2005 was undoubtedly the launch of the Fiat Doblo with its renewed face and then the ‘commercial vehicle of the year’ selection. This important award, which was deemed worthy by the ‘Van of the Year’ jury composed of 19 European journalists, was given at the 28th International Commercial Vehicles Fair held in Amsterdam. The award was given thanks to innovations such as a completely renewed exterior design, increased load capacity, new Maxi long chassis version and renewed engine range. Doblo, which brought the ‘Best Commercial Vehicle in Europe’ award after 10 years…”

Tofaş’s success continued in the following years. Exported to more than 80 countries in the world, including the USA, Canada and all European countries, it won the most environmentally friendly, least burning commercial vehicle award of the year in the USA in 2014.

This success achieved by Doblo all over the world provided a great guarantee in 2014 that Turkey Tofaş was given the right to manufacture a vehicle designed entirely in Turkey, again under Fiat’s brand, which we now know as Egea, designed mostly for middle class white collar workers. This is where the model, which was sold all over the world, was born.

Here, it’s not about praising Tofaş and Doblo, after all, they are commercial commodities and they are traded, but when it comes to being domestic and national, every part of it is designed in China and showcased at fairs in Europe, patented by PininFarina. Before TOGG, which will come from one end of the world, is declared as domestic and national, it is necessary to acknowledge that others deserve this title.

Of course, when it comes to local and nationality, we will not make the pastoralism of “what beautiful springs/travel Anatolia it has” foaming up. This is because Doblo is not only an automobile as an economic commodity, but also an object of desire as a sociological analysis. The fact that it became a part of the history of Turkey in a very short time is due to the fact that it was designed according to the sociology of Turkey, and that Turkey was caught between the city and the countryside, east and west, agricultural production and industrial production. In fact, this vehicle is a symptom of the single-paid civil servants’ desire to live in cities close to their villages and to use the comfort of both tradition and modernity to the top.

If we look from above, the most crystallized line of the hegemon masculinity figure in Turkey today:

There must be a selective perception, while thinking about this article, I realized that many people in my close circle use the adjective “brother-in-law”. After digging a bit, the dobloist uncle’s is a bit of a “kiro”, as the countryman, cunning, and still popular naming; To elaborate, I understood that Doblo was used to depict somewhat cheeky characters carrying a watermelon, a barbecue, a rug, and a cassette player in the trunk, wearing some chunky, pleated trousers, a striped-collar T-shirt, stepping on the back of their shoes. In the movie “Uncle Aykut”, which was released recently, “do you not have a brother-in-law or a donkey?” Contrary to the naive character who confirms his words, Recep İvedikvari is a character who becomes rude and aggressive as he is excluded and despised, and gains self-confidence and status with the culture of the chief. Sometimes the whole religious member of a congregation, sometimes the back table-goer jumping out at the pavilions and bellying up with hostesses. (Cantek[2]28)

To sum it up, the debate on domestic and national automobiles that the actors of New Turkey have been making for years is actually completely void, at least when we consider designs like Doblo and Egea against TOGG. Moreover, not only the economic-technical issues such as engineering, investment, exports, patents, but also the socio-cultural characteristics of the vehicle are completely domestic and national, especially considering that it is the favorite of the class that burns less and runs away after the last oil hikes.

Therefore, the quiet shift of Doblo’s production to Spain, the employment problems in Turkey starting from Bursa, the eco-system living in dependence on the automobile industry, and the relatively balanced prices captured in automobile prices thanks to the supply of these factories will of course shake all of them… Brain drain, it will turn into a design and brand migration…

After all, a brand new car, which was the desire of many people a few years ago, is now a miraculous dream for those people. An important part of the owners of this impossible dream are the brothers-in-law with their Doblos with their monograms. yet they will continue to be tawatur…

[1] There is a lot of sociological research done on this subject, for example:
Yaman, Yaşar Miraç (2012) Apache Youth. Istanbul: Opening Publications

Aktürk, S.Erinç (2016) An ethnographic Study of Joyrider Communities of Ankara. Unpublished Master Thesis

[2] Cantek, Funda Şenol (2019) “Brother-in-law as a Fiat Doblo Man”. Brother-in-law’s Treatise (in) Ed. Tanil Bora, Mustafa Farmer. Istanbul: Communication Publications