The Anadol-Reliant FW11 prototype and its similarity with the Triumph SD2 serves to remind us that nothing’s completely new in the car world.
Denied Turkish Delight
It started with a simple statement by regular Facebook contributor John Barber: ‘Who said that the Triumph SD2 never saw production?’ Above it was a picture of the blue Reliant-built FW11 prototype, which you can see for yourself, second from the top.
It was an interesting point, and one that set me thinking – not so much about the SD2, but about the FW11 itself and how it encapsulated yet another of those frustrating might-have-beens that litter the British motor industry and this site in particular.
From Cortina to Reliant
The FW11 came about following Turkish car company Otosan’s desire to replace its impressive Ford-based Anadol A1/A2. The A1 was the first car to built by Otosan and had been developed by Reliant under the codename FW5. This model married Ford Cortina running gear with an attractive Ogle-styled body. However, in 1977, the Turkish company decided to do the same thing, commissioning Reliant to develop a new car, based on Ford running gear, this time codenamed FW11.
The resulting rear-wheel-drive five-door hatchback was styled by Bertone and was developed specifically for ease of production (like the light commercial Fox) and could powered by a range of engines spanning 1.3- to 2.8-litres. Gandini ensured that the FW11 showcased a generic and stylish Bertone origami look, and one that looked fresh and modern in the late-197os.
Four prototypes were built by Reliant, with two being shipped out to Turkey for further evaluation. The other two remained with Reliant, and it was considered for UK production under the ‘Scimitar SE7’ moniker. Showing it at the NEC Motor Show in Birmingham proved to be a bit of a PR disaster, though – Reliant didn’t get a look in at the show where the Austin Metro and Ford Escort MkIII were launched.
By that time, Otosan had already abandoned the idea, instead choosing to facelift the A1/A2 into the ‘interestingly’ styled A8-16/16 SL before taking on production of the Taunus/Cortina ’80, which would end up living on until 1994.
But what of the FW11 design? Bertone certainly succumbed to the temptation of recycling it (as it had done many times before with a variety of other styling schemes). When Citroën approached the Italian design house to come up with a concept for its upcoming mid-sized car Projet XB it did a swift re-work, combining elements of its 1979 Volvo Tundra concept car – the results were plain to see in 1982’s Citroën BX.
That, in turn, raises all manner of questions – could Reliant have made a success out of the FW11? More relevantly, could Rover-Triumph’s similar concept – the SD2 – have done well? Considering that Citroën built over two million BXs, it’s a fair likelihood that, with a little more refining for the showroom and an appealing range of engine options, BL’s original could have done very well indeed, had the company – and its Government paymasters – kept the faith.