Obscure Car Thread
from You Know Cars Forums
posted by Y.J-TU-TH
time stamp 12.04.2017 13.02 GMT
Old advert from 2001.
Price new $12,000.
Tough as an Asian water buffalo. Tough as an elephant.
2001 Plainoi TU
A Plainoi van, Japanese Technology.
Engineered by a German Engineer.
Reliable, Adequate power. Drive however you want, it’s not going to break.
With service dealers all over the place.
On sale now.
Plainoi Traudkan Co. LTD.
For more information dial 02-112-44107
I bet if this was in the guess what car thread, you’d never have gotten it!
What you’re seeing here is pretty much the only vaguely “successful” (in that some unit actually left the showroom floor) attempt at establishing an automotive industry in Thailand. 2001 Plainoi TU van.
Plainoi is a company specialized in vehicle conversion. As in you get a Japanese compact pick up truck chassis and then they put on special bodies on it. Usually in station wagon guise or military jeep.
Established in 1956. They started by making station wagon bodies for Road Vanquist 4x4, a British Military Vehicle. Possibly the first attempt at such conversion. They also put closed body on WW2 or post-WW2 Japanese Mitsushita Jeeps and sell on for both government and civilian use. They were indeed quite successful with those. And when the Vietnam war started, they also do conversion for American Jeep. In fact, if you had a body-on-frame machine you want bodies that suits your need, Plainoi was the company you need. They can be call “Coachworks” quite easily.
Now, in 1960, the first car factory was established in Thailand, making Japanese Ossan. Many more follows. 1961 German Carlotta, 1962 Italian FATI, 1963 British Conan, and in 1965 with Mitsushita.
For whatever reason, in 1966. Plainoi saw an opportunity to use the know how of their own car conversion to make their own car. With help of a French company, FRE. To develop their own family car. Feautring many technologies such as overhead cam V6 engine, disk brakes and hydropneumatic suspension. A few prototype was done and you could read about it in my previous post. “The Plainoi Truadkan” Which actually translated roughly to Plainoi Station Wagon. By the way, the full company name was Plainoi Truadkan Co.LTD. So that’s clearly is some imaginative naming. Or they simply never got to naming process because the plan collapsed in early 1967. Many believe it was due to the fact that Plainoi was in no position to set up a car factory, let alone as advanced as the prototype was.
After that, Plainoi continued their conversion business. And they were quite successful. Even more so with compact truck chassis of the 1970’s and 1980’s. With tough and reliable chassis of established Mitsushita and Ossan. Yet with practicality of a closed station wagon bodies featuring up to 9 seats.
Thailand never had a national car. Despite Malaysia having one since early 1980’s. Plainoi was the closest to them actually having their own car company. And the idea seems especially far away during the 1980’s. With the far-right government seeing automobiles as a “luxury item” and not something that’s necessary. (Despite being chauffeured in luxurious Carlotta themselves, those asswankering swine).
But then in the late 1980’s. With the democratically elected government of Chatichai Choonhavan promoting international trades. With the country seeing up to 13% growth a year. Businesses was booming, Plainoi included.
It was in 1992 then that the hope of Thailand’s National Automobile was the closest to reality. Attempts at coup d’état resulted in Bloody May. But after that was resolved, the country growth, and thus automotive consumption went through the roof. It was perhaps the best chance if there ever was one.
Plainoi at this period was doing quite well. And with their experience in high utility, incredibly practical designs. They went onto a quest to design the perfect utility vehicle for Thailand. Tough, reliable, economical.
But then, in 1993. The utility sales did not went up. It was luxury car sales that did. Imports duty have been reduced massively and a lot of business people who’ve profited from booming economy were buying Carlottas and Bavarias at very high rate. Utility vehicle was not in the vogue. But Plainoi did not know anything about anything other than that.
But they didn’t stop. They already hired an executive engineer who’ve worked with Carlotta since the 1970’s to help with designing the car… Or rather… a van.
The chassis itself is borrowed, it’s designed closely inspired those of the established Mitsushita Boarilla compact car. But obviously nothing is interchangable. It’s longer, tougher, more for utility use. But the engine IS of a Mitsushita. A 2.3 litre commercial unit fitted to many of the Mitsushita utility models. And also minivan.
They seemed to have great combination of parts. That particular Mitsushita engine is incredibly tough. Notorious for going half a million kilometres without any issue. And the chief engineer working on it have done some legendary tough designs in the past. (Carlotta UW115 Diesel comes to mind, those will go on literally forever).
But what they lack pretty much kills all the chance of the car being a success. They did not have a vision.
What is it going to be? A van for a man? Or a family minivan? Because of the changing demographics and unclear target consumer. The designed that was started in 1992 that should’ve finished by 1996 was delayed constantly. Many spyshot pictures was released and many show cars was shown. But nothing substantial was actually available.
And then in 1997, the economic crisis happened.
Thailand suffered a lot then. The booming economic suddenly collapsed overnight. Sales of automobile, the same with every other industry, went down massively. But somehow, Plainoi persevered. By that time the van has been in development for 5 years. And it was damn nearly complete even though it still wasn’t sure what to make of it.
The van got the name around 1999, during one of the country’s autoshow. It was the “TU”. With no explanation what so ever why it’s called so. But the factory to produce it still wasn’t ready. And there’s no clear plan to produce it actually. It seems that this is again a vaporware the old 1966 Plainoi Traudkan was. Plainoi business suffered during this period and they didn’t exactly rolled in cash.
BUT. They did manage to set up a factory. And the Plainoi TU did went on sale! Apparently they commissioned the car to be assembled at Carlotta South West Bangkok plant. (Which is not unusual, other few foreign manufacturers did and still do assemble their CKD kit at Carlotta South West Bangkok plant).
The memory is very hazy now. I cannot recalled ever seeing those Plainoi TU on the road. I did saw some parked, and a few at the 2001 Bangkok International Motorshow. But I have never seen one running and driving.
In the table showing the amount of cars sold in 2001. Plainoi managed to shift 11,230 unit for that year. But nobody ever know how many it was TU. That number was for the whole brand which includes a lot of converted Japanese truck chassis.
But there’s the above advert and a few brochure (which shows the price to be about $12,000) to confirmed the car existence.
There’s still very little information about this very weird car. I’m trying to find more, but I’m struggling. Maybe I have to do some deeper research. I’ll come back when I find something.