NAMCO

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.

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 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.

HISTORY
In 1960, NAMCO introduced CHRYSLER to Greece in a Joint-Venture and built the FARMOBIL vehicle. http://www.allpar.com/cars/adopted/farmobil.html
In 1973, the NAMCO MINI PLANT was established in Thessaloniki. The first automobile plant in Greece.
In 1981, with the cooperation of three (3) major French Banks NAMCO gained the license to establish a big automotive industry, including an engine-line. The project, due to unsustainable political obstacles failed to consummate.
In 1982, NAMCO with CITROEN started the first foreign automobile plant in China.
In 1983, a large and successful cooperation with CITROEN in IRAN (SAIPA) was established helping working relations up-to-date for PONY and STALLION.
In 1984, large exports to all NORTH AFRICA were realized.
In 1985, the Greek military, public companies, etc. were supplied with PONY vehicles by NAMCO Greece.
In 1993, large orders of NAMCO vehicles were exported to the U.S.A. with the cooperation of FORD.
From 1994 until today, NAMCO cooperates with TATA India.
In 1995, NAMCOs PONY was presented in India, as the rationalization car, of ultra-low cost and surprised TATA, MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA opening the scene of most affordable, locally-built vehicles.
In 2006 Prototype building of a TOYOTA Yaris-powered rationalized car.
In 2009 Prototype building of a HYUNDAI Verna-powered ultra-cheap rationalized car.
In 2012 new NAMCOs rationalized platform for STALLION & WILDCAT were studied.
In 2013 PONY 513, 5th Generation prototype with KIA engine is presented.
In 2013 NAMCO HELLAS AG obtained the ISO 9001:2008 for the design, production and assembly of vehicles


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