My parent’s first car was the Italian Fiat 128 model 1977. Since the 1960s the Egyptian state started producing affordable cars for the middle and upper-middle classes of the society. On 23/5/1960 by the Republican Decree No. 913 Al-Nasr company was established as the first automotive manufacturer in the Middle East. El Nasr which means Victory in Arabic was/still a company specialized in assembling cars, that has started with a license from the Italian Fiat to produce Nasr 1100 – Nasr 125 – Nasr 126 – Nasr 127 – Nasr 133 – Nasr 131 – Tembra – Bolognese – Florida – Nasr Shaheen and Nasr 128 which my parents had its Italian version. The company was also producing/assembling buses, lorries, and agricultural tractors.
The history of the Egyptian automotive industry started around 1957 with the general industrialization movement. This encouraged some businessmen to start assembling and producing the first Egyptian vehicle. In the beginning, they agreed with a British company to import the car parts and reproduce them in Egypt. The ambitious businessmen took an appointment with the Egyptian president at that time Gamal Abdul Nasser, to introduce him to the idea. Nasser welcomed them and their ideas and gave them land in Helwan to build the factory. But the British, and due to the political dispute between the two countries refused to supply Egypt with the parts of the car. Therefore, the State addressed the Western German automotive Klöckner Humboldt-Deutz (KHD). The experience was successful at the beginning and the Egyptians managed to produce the first car under the name Ramses, suggested by Nasser himself. In the advertising campaign, there were 3 Ramses: Red, White, and Black with representing the Egyptian flag’s colors.
However, the car was short-lived because of several reasons such as the poor design and performance, incompatibility of the assembled parts, and above all the political preset of the time. During the nationalization movement, the factory was declared property of the Egyptian government under the name Nasr Automobile Industry Company.
The photos are depicting NASR service station complex, located in Koum El Dikka, in the downtown of Alexandria. The building is belongs to the 1960s era, and is distinguished distinguished by the modernist clear and sharp lines that represent its totalitarian function. Despite the facility being built during the nationalization movement, the French influence represented in the name and font on the façade is still observed.
- Flower, R. (2002). Napoleon to Nasser: The story of modern egypt. 1st Books.
- Survey and Mines, Authority. Egypt towns series. Scale ca. 1:500. 1938/42.
- El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing Co. – mih. Metallurgical Industries Holding Co. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://mih.eg/myservice/el-nasr-automotive-manufacturing-co/