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...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Volga GAZ-21 (Part 2)

Predictably, very soon, one of the particularly well-preserved cars of the taxi fleet was assigned to the family of the head of the taxi company. It was basically used as the official car for the father of the family; the rest of the time it was used by his son.




Then, there came the time for generation change, namely, the era of the new Volga GAZ-24. After 12 years of service, it was acquired by one of the repairers of the maintenance shop at the same taxi company. The dexterous mechanic quickly restored the crumbling Volga and decided to modify it for the use in his work. Since 1973, this Volga was used as a recovery and tow vehicle for faulty cabs. With years, the bright color of this car became quite recognizable; more and more motorists became interested in its services. Its bright color the car received during the transformation into a recovery vehicle.
Gavryusha Arakelyan, the owner of the car, still actively uses it as intended. Today, from a collectable point of view, this car is of no interest, since it has some internal inconsistencies with the original Volga of second edition.


The decorative radiator grille, front turn signals, hood, front fenders, both bumpers, taillights and logos- all of these elements were taken from the third edition, which was released in 1963-1970. The third edition can be distinguished through its long strip of drainage molding on the roof. The car has many additional identification markings on all sides. It’s equipped with a unique roof rack of an unknown manufacturer from Germany, specially designed for this model. On the photos the car is in its “element” towing a huge air compressor.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Volga GAZ-21 (Part 1)

Nowadays it’s difficult to imagine the life of a modern motorist without the presence of tow trucks and recovery vehicles on the roads. Breakdown recovery services are ready safely and quickly to bring faulty vehicles to destinations at all hours. It’s probably impossible to ascertain who designed the first specialized vehicle for towing broken cars, but it’s easy to surmise that similar mechanisms probably existed from the late nineteenth century, and emerged a little later than the invention of the car itself.









Tow trucks, as such, were practically non-existent in the USSR. So, when it came to a breakdown, the soviet citizen either had to apply his physical power to push the car, or use a tow and neighbor’s car to get to the nearest workshop. The soviet automotive industry produced not only lots of civilian car models, but also various specialized hardware. Tow trucks and other recovery vehicles, however, were never on serial production. Such vehicles began to appear on the post-soviet territory only in 1990’s. But before that period, in the Soviet Union, there were very few craftsmen, who managed to create unique vehicles for breakdown services.




Presently, the only extant handmade recovery vehicle in Armenia from that period is this GAZ-21 of 1960 production. In those years, this car “tirelessly worked” in special services.
In 1960, the second taxi fleet of the capital got another batch of Volga-M21A cars specially designed for a comfortable ride for urban population. The brand new Volga of second generation was an impressive and respectable car, which provided unprecedentedly comfortable ride in those times. The drivers of other vehicles were simply green with envy, since among the available cars for soviet people the new GAZ-21 was the most expensive and prestigious one.
To be continued...

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Nissan Terrano (Part 2)

The four-wheel drive with a transfer box and rigid axis lock combined with manual transmission and high-torque 2.4 Z24 petrol engine predetermined the application field of this car for long time. After years of service, in April 1998, this vehicle was put up for sale for a nominal sum.





The buyer was Hovhanes Malkhasyan, a local resident, who claimed that, long ago, in grave health condition, he was taken to hospital, to a surgery department, on this very same car. In the new family the car was treated like an equal member. It must be noted that the owner of the Nissan, like most of other inhabitants of the earthquake zone in that period, was destitute of a roof over his head and dwelled in a little cabin on the outskirts of the city hardly affording the bare necessities for existence. Unsurprisingly, the car was kept on the street and had no proper care. After several years of poor upkeep, the car plunged into a deplorable condition.  In 2011, already being in unusable condition, the car was confiscated for depths and passed into possession of a private bank. Fate, however, gave a second chance to this Nissan Terrano. In March of the same year, the car had a new owner, who undertook its restoration. Very soon, it underwent cosmetic repair.


Then all the useless parts were replaced with new ones; it received a completely overhauled mono-injection engine with additionally installed LPG (liquefied petroleum gas)
Presently, this car can be seen in the streets of Yerevan. Its owner is an active member of the society of hunters and inspector in the Ministry of environmental protection.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Nissan Terrano (Part 1)

It’s amazing how touching the story of, at first glance, a most ordinary car can be. Although having been ruthlessly used in harsh conditions from the day of its production, this unremarkable Nissan Terrano still demonstrates incredible endurance.


In 1988, the practically new Nissan was brought from Europe to Armenia. This car, along with some others, were to be engaged in the elimination and subsequent restoration of the ruined city of Leninakan, which was razed to the ground by a devastating earthquake on 7 September 1988. The earthquake embraced an area of population of about 1 million. In that period, in addition to the union republics, 111 other countries rendered assistance of various kinds; both humanitarian and technical. After so many years, it is impossible to ascertain exactly which country sent the car to the disaster zone. Besides conveying the injured to hospitals, the car was also used by foreign medical staff to reach the neighboring towns such as Spitak, which literally went under the ground.


This Nissan had every day to cross difficult terrain in order to get to Spitak and back. After the first stage of the elimination works in Leninakan, the car was sent to Amasia, a village, which is about thirty kilometers away from the district center. What typical for this part of Armenia is that there are severe weather conditions in winters accompanied by abundant snowfalls that make the roads impassable not only for ordinary cars, but also heavy trucks. This cost-saving off-roader, also, proved to be extremely easy in maintenance. 
To be continued...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chevrolet Suburban Silverado (Part 2)

With this purpose, they modified the suspension in order to increase the ground clearance and gave the car a threatening appearance. In the chassis they used modified front and rear springs, and put adjustable shock absorbers. For a comfortable boarding the car received extra footrests produced by CARR. Originally, there were halogen flood lights on the roof, which unfortunately did not survive. However, the most original part in the design of the car are, of course, the wheels themselves.


Manufactured by Interco Tire Corporation and named Super Swamper TSL/BOGGER, these tires are extremely popular among the fans of off-road vehicles. They have unique and inimitable design and are depicted on the logo of the company. These wheels are primarily designed for riding through swamps, although they can be used on any rugged landscape and road surface. The signs of the “off-road adventures” soon became visible on the car with the naked eye.



Then I learnt that in 2004 the car was put up for sale. In the autumn of the same year, it was purchased by a customer from Armenia, to where it was shipped by water. In February 2005, the SUV was registered by the traffic police of the Republic of Armenia. They wrongly identified the car and recorded it as Jeep in the field “Manufacturer”




Very soon, the car came to a full stop for an indefinite period of time. For a complete overhaul, it was decided to obtain another body of the same car in its standard version. These plans, however, did not come true. All this time, the car has been rusting on an outdoor parking in the suburbs.  Recently, the owners renewed their plans for the restoration of this Chevrolet.
Let’s wait.
Time will show what they are really capable of.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chevrolet Suburban Silverado (Part 1)

This monster appeared in one of the local restoration workshops quite recently. When this giant was first brought to the workshop, the masters were simply stunned. The condition of the SUV, to put it mildly, was unsatisfactory. A large part of the chassis and body was badly afflicted with corrosion that, in some places, holed those elements altogether. How could it come to pass that a thirty-year-old car reached such a deplorable state? To find an answer to this question and shed light on the history of this car I launched a little investigation.



And so, what we’ve got is a Chevrolet Suburban Silverado belonging to K1500 series released in 1989. This model was produced at the General Motors plant in city of Flint, Michigan, from 1989 to 1991, which, by the way, indicates the sticker on the driver’s door. This Suburban is equipped with 5.7-liter 16-valve V8 carburetor engine, automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system with a mechanical transfer case. This exemplar was released in May, which means the car was intended for the 1989 model year. In the same month, the Michigan traffic police registered this Chevy in the name of a local resident. Over the next ten years, the car had several minor accidents having run in total about 90.000 miles.


After each accident, this SUV was repaired in private workshops, and over time it ceased to be the only vehicle of the family yielding its position to more modern and compact cars. The SUV found its rest in a cozy garage for a long time being used, from time to time, only for trips over rough terrain. By the end of the 90’s the car had new owners from Los-Angeles, who decided to radically change the image of the SUV and transformed it into a real off-road truck.
To be continued...