Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The 1934 Auto Rally “Yerevan-Gorky-Yerevan” (Part 1)

It is well known that after its invention, the car did not immediately gained widespread acceptance among the population. For boosting the popularity of vehicles at the down of the automotive industry, various competitions and races were organized, in order to show all the possibilities and advantages of the self-propelled carriages. Horse-drawn carriages, however, refused to back down on their positions for a long time, particularly in backward countries, among which was undoubtedly Armenia. Until the 1920’s, the number of cars in Yerevan could be counted on the fingers of two hands. As for busses for intracity travel, they did not exist at all.

For the popularization of motor transport in the USSR, it was decided to organize campaign rallies. There must have been dozens of such rallies in the history of Armenia, but, unfortunately, we have information only on few of them. One of them, for example, took place in 1934. The data about it is thoroughly presented in the local press, more precisely, in The Yerevan Worker (No. 61 of 17 July 1934). The race Yerevan-Gorky-Yerevan started on 6 July and had a total distance of 6500 kilometers. The route laid through the cities of Moscow, Tbilisi, Yerevan, Batumi, Novorossiysk and Gorky. The event was organized by the Gorky Proletarian Sports Society "Dynamo". The convoy was comprised of 3 vehicles: 1 Ford and 2 cars of the Gorky automobile plant production. During the race, the organizers tried to find out how durable, compared with the American counterpart, the latters were. Further, from the same press, we learnt that the rally participants arrived in Yerevan on 22 July at 18:00 local time.
To be continued…

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

GAZ-21 Volga (Part 2)

This year alone, the world saw two amazing Volgas, and imagine our surprise, when we accidently, with an interval of a few months, revealed that both of the vehicles were the fruits of creativity of Avetis Martirosyan, a wonderful and modest car restorer.

He devoted all his life exclusively to the craft of restoration of one single model, the GAZ-21. Born in a poor family, which couldn’t afford their own car, master Martirosyan could only dream of a Volga when a child. After receiving a technical education, he became a humble master with unlimited possibilities. Plenty of Volgas from his workshop are currently travelling the world. Two of his most recent works are particularly striking with their impeccable execution and historical thoroughness.

The turquoise GAZ-21R precisely parallels the exterior of this model completely matching the body hue. The restoration of this exemplar lasted over a year—the results could be seen already in the beginning of this year. Avetis Martirosyan is preparing another bomb, the export version of the GAZ-21, which is likely to be ready by this summer. In Soviet times, only the most technically sophisticated products of highest quality were allowed to be considered as exportable. That is why the export version has so many chrome-plated details and extra moldings. The restoration of this exemplar released in 1968 is simply perfect.

There are only a few historical inconsistencies, among which are the additional brake vacuum taken from the later model GAZ-24, modern relay voltage regulator and, of course, the color—a civil Volga would never have been painted black! Otherwise, it’s a unique vehicle in perfect condition with mileage of 17.000 kilometers. Let’s wish the master new works and deserved buyers.

Friday, December 1, 2017

GAZ-21 Volga (Part 1)

The car GAZ-21 represents a whole epoch in the history of all republics of the USSR. It was indeed the first mass Soviet car that could be acquired in the store for quite a reasonable amount. Over the years of production (that period lasted from 1956 to 1970), the Gorky automobile plant released many versions of this middle-class vehicle with different body types.

 Each variety of the GAZ-21 had a specific indexing that could be used to determine the configuration, approximate year of production and the region, for which the car was released. Thanks to the preserved reference books, we revealed 55 different versions of this model. Externally, the first Volga underwent the so-called restyling 3 times, which significantly changed the exterior elements: the optics, bumpers and radiator grille. The most popular version, however, became the car of the last, third, series, manufactured in the plant in the years 1962-1970. Actually, these cars constituted the main part of the taxi fleets of the whole country. That is why the Volga of the third series is of no collectible value to car collectors, although it is a living representative of the car-classics of the 60-ies.

Due to simplicity and phenomenal maintainability, the GAZ-21 Volga is still common on our roads. But as a rule, they are rather miserable in appearance, since they are mercilessly exploited by their owners, primarily for agricultural purposes. There are surprising exceptions, however. Very rarely, we come across some decent instances, which are restored with enviable zest and meticulousness.
To be continued…

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lexus LX470 (Part 2)

According to some experts, it was a usual fake and the car was nothing but an ordinary Lexus LX470 with changed logos. Other motorists persistently emphasized the affiliation of the car to the German tuning company, pointing out the professional styling of this instance. For example, this car is equipped with unique arch extenders, which cannot be found on other instances of this make. The factory chrome parts and moldings are completely absent from the interior, and the image of a sport off-roader accomplish the 19-inch Brabus wheels.

 The fully custom-made saloon is sewn in the style of individual interiors of the G-class by Brabus, whose logos can be seen everywhere in the car. Another version says that the car was assembled in Europe on the individual order of one Armenian oligarch. As for the technical stuffing, we have different data; someone claimed that there was a supercharged 4.7L V8 engine under the hood, another one even saw an additional turbine installed on this engine. Presently, it’s difficult to establish the truth about exactly what engine the car was initially installed with. However, so many years after its appearance in the city, this Lexus was recently first brought to the local dealer, where the masters discovered a completely new Lexus engine, the 5.7L 3UR-FE engine with the TRD supercharger. According to the last owner, he brought this car already with the new engine and its auxiliary equipment. I also learnt that Brabus GmbH has no entry about this car. It might have been tuned by a private company, which, unfortunately, cannot be ascertained.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lexus LX470 (Part 1)

This time I decided to tell you about a car the identification of which I still cannot make out.
May be my subscribers will be able to help me?
At the beginning of 2000’s, in Armenia, the use of Japanese cars began to spread quite rapidly. Among the variety of all those Japanese makes, the undisputed leader in sales, both on so-called primary (in those times there was no official dealers in the country) and secondary markets, was Toyota Motors Co. 

Based on local road conditions, the quality of soil covering and other geographical specifics, the demand of such vehicles as the Toyota Land Cruiser 80, 100, or Land cruiser Prado 120 was particularly high. Quite often, one could see the premium version of the above mentioned models, the Lexus GX470 and more luxurious LX470.  The latter, together with unprecedented off-road capabilities, in standard version, was offered with a wide range of support functions. However, there was one single black Lexus LX470, which was obviously standing out against the background of all those vehicles throughout the city. At first glance, nothing special about it, but a closer look reveals the nameplates of the company Brabus. The car was brought to Yerevan in 2002, and along with its appearance, there came many theories about the origins of this mysterious black beast. It is known that the Brabus aftermarket tuning company has long been specializing in Mercedes-Benz (also later in Smart, Maybach and Tesla) vehicles and there couldn’t have been any connection between the Lexus and Brabus.
To be continued...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Pedal Car ‘Moskvich’ (Part 2)

The masters had to cope with difficult tasks. It was necessary to restore the geometry of the body, straighten all the bumps and get rid of a large amount of rust.
The total absence of front and rear suspension components made the restoration even more difficult. The car was completely disassembled, after which the project had to be frozen, since another pedal car of the same type as a donor was needed. Time went by, but the donor car could not be found.

Finally, in the winter of 2015-2016, the restoration works on the pedal Moskvitch resumed. At first, the masters rebuilt the mechanical part consisting of pedal units and driving mechanism with an improvised rear axle. The wheels were also fixed up. Quite an original design solution was the use of an integrated hand-made frame that gave a certain rigidity to the body and a base for fixing the rear suspension. The masters managed, from scratch, to create a fully functioning rear suspension with coil springs. The fixation of the front wheels with the “hubs” was impossible before the restoration, since one side of the body was damaged. The new parts, like a specular reflection of the other side, were made of galvanized sheet metal.

Once the car was put back on the wheels, the masters got down to the body correction. It must be noted that those restoration works took as much time as those of a real retro vehicle. After numerous welding works, the body was sent to a painting department. Several layers of putty for various purposes alternated with the use of various prime paint layers, which was supposed to provide the best filling of the defective areas. The custom-made steering wheel is fixed to a new polished stainless rod.
The project is still at the assembly stage. I will definitely return to this pedal car upon the completion of the restoration.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Pedal Car ‘Moskvich’ (Part 1)

Every Soviet preschool boy dreamt of having their own pedal car. In the USSR, according to different sources, the children’s cars were in production since 1920’s, but this toy gained serious mass popularity starting from 1960’s, when the production of children’s vehicles was set up at the automobile plant AZLK.  Among the all variety of pedal cars produced at different factories, the most popular one is considered to be Moskvitch.

The production of the second generation of this car started in 1973 and ceased only in 1994. It is believed that the number of the produced pedal Moskvitch cars was no less than that of its “big brother”, which contributed to the fact that these cars could be seen in all yards of soviet cities.  Over time, many pedal Moskvitchs became nothing but warm childhood memories. These toys became obsolete and fell apart because of poor quality of thin steel sheet, of which they had been made. Many people started to get rid of the 13-kilogramme toys, since they took up too much space in their flats. This pedal car was not an exception and was doomed to scrapheap.

There are two big questions for me: how one could dare to purchase it for the purpose of restoration and how it was possible to restore it, when not a single element was able to function in it. However, as the pictures show, all these took place in reality. The start of the second life of this pedal car can be considered the second of November 2014. On that day, a lucky man became the owner of the Moskvitch and brought it to the restoration workshop, where at that time the specialists were engaged only in restoring real retro-cars.
To be continued...