Spluttering and coughing, an unusual crop of vehicles in the villages of central Turkey are gaining attention and a following. The cheap and noisy motorized carts are called paht-pahts or tak-taks, depending on the region and the onomatopoeic interpretation of the distinctive sound of the engine.
What they lack in comfort they make up in value. Costing between $2,000 and $3,000 each, the carts are still capable of hauling a full flatbed of crops at speeds of about 50 kilometers per hour (30 mph).
The simple engines are produced by local mechanics, who learned their craft from a farmer named Ismail Aktekin. During the late 1960s, Aktekin modified a water pump to motorize the first of these haulers. Since then, this cottage industry has grown exponentially with hundreds of these vehicles produced each year.
Between their low cost and relatively high gas mileage, these paht-pahts have put thousands of farmers on the fast track. With more demand and plenty of village mechanics building them each year, the market for these vehicles is growing throughout the Turkish countryside and maybe one day beyond its borders.
Vladic Ravich is a freelance photojournalist based in Turkey.
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