Monday, May 29, 2017

Opel Kapitan (Part 1)

This Opel Kapitan is one of the few vintage cars in Armenia, which received a relatively better fate than many other samples from its epoch.
We met the owner of this car many years ago; if I am not mistaken, it was in 2001. At the time, we were involved in organizing just another retro event with participation of many classic cars. In order that the event could take place, we needed to gather a certain number of old vehicles, which were supposed to be in excellent condition both technically and externally. The event was going to be attended basically by the permanent members of the Automobile Federation of Armenia, or rather, by those car owners who had already been registered for the club of classic cars at the federation.

However, it was still necessary to find at least one car, in order to replenish the list of participants. On the eve of the event, we happened to see this Opel in the street on our way home. At first glance, the car was in a quite fresh condition, so we offered the owner a place in the convoy of classic cars. In addition, we issued him a membership of the club and federation.
The event went perfectly and we had enough time to get to know each other better afterwards. It turned out that Albert Sargsyan, the owner of the car, had owned it since 1984. According to Albert’s statement, this Opel had been brought to Armenia in the early postwar years as a war trophy, after which it was used by a family of a former army officer for many years. During that years, many native units fell into disrepair and were replaced with soviet ones; some details were lost forever. This “Kapitan” passed by inheritance to Albert Sargsyan in a dreadful condition. At first Albert did not know what to do with the scrapheap he inherited in 1984. After some time, he decided to get down to the rehabilitation of his retro-car.
To be continued…

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Modified Honda Prelude (Part 2)

Special attention needs to be paid to the seriously modified exhaust system. There are three exhaust pipes connected to a handmade manifold. The pair of the exhaust pipes, which come out from the rear body, only work at high revs, when the turbocharger operates, providing sufficient ejection of exhaust gases.

At low revs, there engages an additional muffler taken from a CZ motorcycle, which comes out from the side. By the way, the owner has invented a special mechanism, which, at certain engine revs, produces fire flames through the exhaust pipes. This Honda Prelude is equipped with electronic four-wheel steering system, which was also broken, but later restored.

As a conclusion to all the modifications that changed the dynamic performance of this sports coupe, the owner has modified the original breaking system. Now the rear wheels are equipped with disc brakes. As for the front ones, the standard two-piston discs have been replaced with powerful six-caliper discs. The wheel rims have also been replaced with larger and ventilated ones. Now the car has got 17-inch wheels with 245/45 Nitto racing tires.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Modified Honda Prelude (Part 1)

At first glance, it’s quite difficult to identify what car this is. No wonder… the cars of this make can be rarely seen in the streets of our city. This is the Honda Prelude of the 4th generation produced between 1991 and 1996. The car in the pictures was produced in 1992, specifically for the EU market, which is evidenced by the underhood label. By the way, this is the rarest version of the Prelude, equipped with 2.3L 4-cylinder 160HP H23-A2 petrol engine.

Let’s start with the exterior.
Firstly, the car has an eye-catching airbrushing: the flames are so masterly and realistically executed that you frantically start thinking of a fire extinguisher when seeing it for the first time. The unique bumpers in the style of F1 are designed by the owner of the car. Neither could the owner resist intervention in the interior of the car, which is nicely realized in two-tone style. On the dashboard, next to the huge factory gauges, there are additional devices to watch the operation of the  turbocharger.

The last owner purchased this car in 2010 with a faulty engine and transmission (at the time the mileage was about 156.000 km).
Since it was initially planned to install a turbocharger, the engine and transmission have been reinforced only with high-strength parts of known brands that have maximal operating endurance. 

After a major overhaul, the presumptive engine power increased a few times reaching around 470HP. For more precise measurements, the car needs to undergo a "dyno" test, which is impossible, since there is no such equipment in Armenia. We have to content ourselves with the recommendations of the manufacturer of the turbocharger.
To be continued…

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Forerunner of Capitalism (Part 2)

This Cadillac did not look archaic in those days but now times have changed. Relatively low mileage had a positive impact on the technical condition of the car.
The shiny blue Cadillac Sedan DeVille with its terrific vinyl top fascinated the residents of our city for a long time. The owner also received lots of positive emotions from the car during the years of operation, because under the hood there was a real American V8 petrol engine with displacement: 4087cm3 / 249 cui, advertised power: 100.5 kW / 135 hp / 137 PS (SAE net), torque: 271 Nm / 200 lb-ft.

Towards the end of 1990s, when the city was already full of foreign cars, this Cadillac was no longer unique. Besides, the automatic transmission was not functioning properly by that time and the owner made a decision to get rid of the car. The next owner became the very traffic police officer, who, many years ago, had refused to register the car. Later he confessed that he had just been envious of not being able to afford such a luxury vehicle. However, this owner did not enjoy the purchase for long.

Soon the engine broke down and he simply did not have the means for the repairs, as a result of which the car was left idle in the street. In 1999 in Armenia the format of state license plates changed, but this car has not been entered into the new database yet. Fate seems to be playing déjà vu with this Cadillac again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Forerunner of Capitalism (Part 1)

It is no secret that immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union in all former socialist republics, the personal car fleet of the citizens began to rise rapidly. This active replenishment of vehicles was mainly due to imports of used cars, about which the absolute majority of the citizens of the fraternal republics could not even dream before the collapse of the Soviets.

In Armenia, until the early 90’s, the number of foreign cars was so tiny, that one could count them on the fingers of both hands. Except for the trophy cars brought to the USSR after the WW II, the fleet of the so-called exclusive cars basically consisted of the representatives of the American automobile industry. The undeniable leader among the “Americans” was always the Cadillac brand.  For the Soviet man, Cadillac was not just a symbol of luxury, but it also personified the freedom, of which he was dreaming in the depths of the soul.

Arrived in Yerevan during the soviet period, this Cadillac DeVille was one of the first forerunners of the capitalism. This car of 1984 production was brought in the late 80’s by Samvel Grigorian, a successful entrepreneur and connoisseur of American cars. At first, the Republican traffic police flatly refused to register the car explaining that civil servants, thus, would not cooperate with speculators (so called businessmen at that time). Without registration, it was impossible to drive the car in the city, so the owner had to confine himself to short drives in the immediate vicinity of his house. Only in April 1996, he managed to obtain state registration plates and technical documents. As seen in the photo, the plates bear special numbers for those times.
To be continued…

Monday, February 27, 2017

Exterior Fantasy: Lexus GS (Part 2)

At the end of February, after going through all the bureaucratic red tape at the custom office and getting the registration plates, the car was brought to the workshop of “Plasti DIP Armenia”, where it was decided to cover the entire body of the car with special American rubber paint. This method offers unlimited choice of colors; the final result normally depends on the imagination of a customer. In our case, the choice fell on purple with chameleon tints, including maroon and blue.

Some of the parts, like wing mirrors and moldings, were done in a matte black color, which gives the car an even sportier appearance. The front bumper was repainted in the style of F-Sport with the black middle, which visually unifies the radiator grille with the vents on the front bumper. All this is harmoniously combined with original wheel discs painted in a darker shade.
This vehicle is equipped with a 3.5L V6 24-valve 2GR-FSE petrol engine, which produces 317 HP. This engine along with the A760E semi-automatic transmission and all-wheel drive accelerate the car from 0 to 100km/h just in 6.3 seconds.
Currently, this Lexus is undergoing another stage of exterior modification. Most likely, very soon, the owner will present a quite different Lexus.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Exterior Fantasy: Lexus GS (Part 1)

It looks like the fans of individual car styling will never be satisfied with wide range of variations and rich diversity of modifications offered by official car dealers. Neither will such individuals be pleased with wide selections of interior decoration and stylish exterior solutions offered by representatives of such premium brands as Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Lexus.

Our today’s topic is exactly about such a car: the Lexus GS 350 depicted in the photos. The “earthly” life of this Lexus began on 11 April 2003, when it was given an identification number and came out of the gates of the native plant in Japan.
The car was almost immediately sent to an official dealer in Canada, where it had already been farsightedly reserved for a specific buyer. Initially, this exemplar was painted in a pearly white color with a factory code number 007. Later, after two years of operation, the owner decided to sell the car. For that purpose, he turned to “Reynolds & Reynolds”, the most popular dealer of used cars in Canada, which sold the car quite quickly.
In the spring of 2015, this Lexus was already in Armenia. When purchasing this car, the young man had already prepared himself for a deep re-styling of the exterior.
To be continued…