Every once in a while a ‘supercar maker’ comes along designing something rather special and unique infusing dreams of both past and present. Influenced by the greatest car makers around the world, car enthusiasts use their mind to create vehicles no one has ever seen before. This can easily be mirrored to several persons around the world, one of them is the vice chairman of Yonca-Onuk JV, Dr Ekber Onuk. We spoke to the 61-year-old at his shipyard in Tuzla-Istanbul and discussed the heritage of sport cars, his love and admiration for the McLaren F1 and relationship with Nissan. He also showed us his brand new project the Onuk Sazan.
In his daily life Mr. Onuk runs a shipyard with the capacity of building high-speed boats up to 50m in length and 400 tonnes displacement from advanced composites. State-of-the-art pleasure, commercial and naval craft in advanced composites have been designed and built since 1989. Governments like Abu Dhabi, Pakistan, Georgia and Turkey use the high speed ships reaching up to 70knots (which is 130km/h on water!) for military or coast guard tasks.
Talking to Mr. Onuk will pull you back into the heritage of sport cars, motorsports and true love for the automobile as a whole. Let’s take you back into the history of sport cars. Inevitably we have a duty to mention Turkey’s first sports car, the Anadol STC-16, a project from the ’70s. The STC-16 was powered by a 1.6-liter Ford Mexico motor found in both the Cortina and Capri. A fierce competitor to the Datsun 240Z and known in Turkey as “Süper Türk Canavarı” – Super Turkish Monster.
The STC-16 is just one of the many scale models you will find in the office of the vice-chairman who says about himself; “Like General Patton I am an historian”. His true passion for automobiles is shown through collections placed on his desk or the walls of his office, but also by his stories! Opening the discussion about the long lasting automobile heritage means discussing his favorite vehicles such as the legendary Ferrari 330P3/P4’s – or the Ford Shelby Daytona Coupe with its long nose and short back. For anybody who hasn’t experienced those years, the stories passing by are kept in the history of time and leave you with thoughts back to a period you would have loved to be part of.
Bringing us back to the world of today, we open up the story behind the current project: the Onuk Sazan. The legacy goes back to 1996 when Dr Onuk lost his son Kaan during a tragic car accident. His son studied Aeronautics and Astronautic Engineering at that time. In remembrance to his son he included the nickname of his son – used among his fellow students – as a trademark and signature of the car itself. The Sazan was born!
The semi-supercar is an in-house designed ‘Mosler’-type, street-legal racing car. So no ordinary supercar, but developed with a race heritage and the possibility to drive it in any GT4-racing class. The mid-engine rear-wheel drive prototype packs a Chevrolet Corvette LS7 engine producing up to 512bhp (377kW) and 635Nm at 4800rpm. The gearbox is a five-speed manual G52/M transmission.
The current status of the project is still conceptual. Mass production isn’t planned, but interest from the world (Russia , USA, Japan) are encouraging Dr. Onuk to build two ‘job 1’ models with production drawings and tooling for testing the car. These units would definitely have a Nissan V6-engine (producing 485bhp (357kW) and 588Nm at 3200-5200rpm) and a six-speed XTRAC 6012 gearbox. Exactly, that is the engine of the Nissan Skyline GT-R! “But up to this moment Nissan hasn’t confirmed yet a decision to supply the engine”, says Onuk.
Empty weight of only 960kg (2,116lbs) is planned against a total power of 485bhp. The low weight is realized by implementing a composite chassis and body developed in close cooperation with Turkish aerospace. The vehicle has a removable roof tooled from composite materials. By removing the roof you have created a targa setup. Other parts to be changed are the red tail lights, the interior and the dashboard. The vehicle will also have a 7.5 inch screen, rear-view camera and a data logging system on board.
The design and development of the Sazan was influenced by one car; the McLaren F1. “The greatest car ever built”, says Mr. Onuk (on the right). “It changed the technical level and was an important milestone in sportscar design. It definitely set new rules in the business.” The Sazan shares some of the lines of the UK supercar and its front air intakes. But that’s really it. The design is hardly anything you may have seen before. The beauty of the vehicle is for you to decide. One thing is for sure, there is a difference between seeing the Sazan in real live or just on a picture.
The future of the Sazan concept or even the whole project is still uncertain. Future plans have not been set and it is unclear if the vehicle will ever go into production. The project is one with a bias towards racing, Onuk’s son and to Turkish engineering generally, however it’s still the “impossible dream” project of a shipyard owner with a vision and a struggle of a father to realize the dream of his son Kaan “Sazan” Onuk.
Those words ask for a street-legal racing car to be driven through the streets of Istanbul city. And if that is never going to happen, can somebody please loan Mr. Onuk a McLaren F1? Just for one day…