Monday, December 22, 2014

Hyundai Tuscani

Hyundai Tuscani is a modern car with a great performance and quite affordable price. Translated from Spanish, the word “Tuscani” means shark,- and indeed, the smooth profile and “gills” on the fenders really make the car look like the predator. In addition to the unique appearance, the “Tuscani” is distinguishable from its Hyundai-fellows by a 2.7-liter engine capable of producing 172 HP, bifurcated exhaust pipe, which slightly increases the engine power, and more sophisticated interior equipment.

In Armenia, Hyundai Tuscani is available in two versions: with 2L 4-cyliner engine with a capacity of 143HP and 2.7L V6 engine with a capacity of 172HP. Although these two versions are equipped with different engines, they share the same set of standard options: central locking, air conditioning, disk brakes on all wheels, air bags and split exhaust pipes made of chromium. The car is very attractive from every side and has a very modern appearance. The smooth body lines adds elegance to the model, which makes it distinguishable from other coupes. In the images, the “Tuscany” looks slightly bigger, but in reality, it’s quite compact and has a low height. The features of Hyundai Tuscani allow the car to be easily considered as a roadster, because the rear window (along with the trunk lid) is actually the third door.

This car is also attractive on the inside. Compared with Hyundai Tiburon, the “Tuscani” has got quite a different interior. The dashboard now has a new appearance- it is equipped with an odometer, the indications of which are shown on an electronic display. The panel is stretched along the length of the cabin- it is divided by two holes of the heating system and control buttons. The stereo system is located in the center of the console panel with the adjustment knobs of the heating system and air conditioning.
The handle of the gearshift has not only a short stroke, but also a comfy location, so the driver can make a smooth shifting at any time. The seats of the “Tuscani” have scoop-like shape and are very comfortable.
The interior trimming is made of high-quality fabric, which keeps the salon warm in winter and cool in summer.  The “Tuscani” has four seats. The back seats would be more appropriate for children and can additionally be used as a storage place.

Specifications of Hyundai Tuscani 2.7: 

Length-4395mm, width-1760mm, height-1330mm.
Maximal weight- 1740kg
Engine capacity- 172HP/6000
Maximal torque- 245 N m/4000
Maximal speed 220km/h
Transmission- manual  6-speed.
Fuel consumption per 100km- 10.3-10.4L
Fuel tank volume- 55L

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Skoda Superb (Part 2)

In spite of the fact that the base of the ‘Superb’ is shorter by a couple of centimeters than that of the previous model, it’s still quite spacious inside the car, and this is partly due to the transverse replacement of the engine. If you've ever driven a VW, you won’t have to get used to Skoda.

There are plenty of knobs and buttons, the locations of which are more than predictable- the ergonomics allows to guess everything intuitively. The panel is simple and unobtrusive- it has nothing to surprise the passengers, which I think is for good.
The wheel and gearshift are wrapped with leather. If you want everything else to be covered with leather, you’ll have to pay extra. But even without leather, the interior looks expensive and presentable- there is no hint of cheap Chinese plastic.

The power train is supported by 6-speed DSG gearbox (with twin-clutch plates), which pleasantly surprised me- it works amazingly fast. The 1.5-ton Sedan with DSG gearbox manages to accelerate 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds, while the one with manual gearbox does it in 8.6 seconds.
The mode “D” was more than comfortable, but I preferred to drive on the “S”- it wasn't a true sports mode- the behavior of the car becomes slightly sharper.
Someone might think that a 1.8-liter engine is too small for a business sedan- but no, the engine, indeed, demonstrated good dynamics.

The fuel consumption is less than 13 liters in the city. When I took the car, it had a full tank- I drove almost 500 kilometers for two days and there was still plenty of fuel left in the tank.
It’s great pleasure to ride in this car- the excellent sound insulation saves the passengers from the roar of the engine and aerodynamic howls. Both at high and low speeds, all the road junctions and roughness are ignored; the suspension is capable of coping with even bigger road holes and bumps, so that the passengers may only guess that there was something, but nothing special.
"Skoda Superb" is not created for young people- it would be more suitable for those who once got attached to affordable "Octavias" and "Felicias", but has since grown in age and status. But in spite of the fact that I was still fresh and young, I enjoyed driving the “superb” very much.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Skoda Superb (Part 1)

I managed to get a wonderful car for a couple of days- the Skoda Superb of second generation. Not long ago, I spent a whole day riding in it as, and I loved it very much. The car belonged to a friend of mine and I decided not to miss the opportunity to put it to the test.

In Armenia, this car is available in three versions- two of them (manual and automatic) have a 1.8-liter petrol engine with a capacity of 152 HP, and the third is equipped with 2-liter 140 HP diesel engine with automatic gearbox.  All these engines are turbocharged and are called TDI (Turbo Diesel Injection) and TSI (Turbo Stratified Injection)- everything like in blood brother VW. Each of the models is available in three versions-Comfort, Ambition and Elegance. Perhaps, I got the most interesting model, the 152HP-Elegance with a robotized DSG gearbox. I am not a connoisseur of automotive design and, without going into the prehistory of this model, I will say that Skoda Superb is something quite different from what the company manufactured before.  The car has a unique design and recognizable image. The unusual shape of the headlights and massive black grille give the car aggressive appearance, which is emphasized by the bonnet relief. 
The side view is not so interesting- there is nothing special to attract somebody’s attention- simple and with taste. But… if you take a good look, the elongated roof shapes stretching down to the rear rack start to remind you of Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The designers of Skoda seem to have inspired in the right place.

The back appearance is less expressive- could be done better. But in general, it’s pretty, I like it.
The "Superb" is simply huge- throughout the whole test drive, I was trying to get used to the dimensions of the car, but I couldn't- only after the third attempt I managed to make a parallel parking in the yard. The Parktronic system (in my case, it was only on the back) wasn't much help. As for ‘Parking Assistant’, I wouldn't have trusted it, even if there had been any.
To be continued...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mercedes-Benz CL 500 Lorinser

Mercedes-Benz CL 500- elegant design, 300 HP, high-quality leather and wood, electronic navigation, ABS, ESP- the list of features can be indefinitely continued. For true admirers of the CL 500, there seems to be only one model standing above in rank- the CL600. But the German tuning company Lorinser came up with an alternative by creating Mercedes-Benz CL 500 Lorinser. It is to mention that the CL has also been modernized by such giants as AMG, Brabus and Carlson.

There is a world of visual difference between the standard CL 500 and the one tuned by Lorinser. So, for instance, the front and back bumpers look more embracing, the fog lights have also changed, the car has been equipped with more aggressive wheels and  radiator grille. The new fenders, rear roofline and lip spoilers are the result of Lorinser’s aerodynamic solutions.
In general, the tuning has imparted subtlety, beauty and some sport features to the CL. The CL 500 Lorinser introduced in this article has undergone only external tuning. The suspension, power train as well as the saloon remained unchanged.
So, the 5L 306 HP V8 engine easily accelerates the car to 250 km/h (electronically limited). The maximal torque reaches 460 N m at 2700 RPM. The first thing to attract  (or to scare) passer-by is the triumphal engine roar produced through the branded silencer. But, thanks to the famous noise insulation by Mercedes, the noise is almost inaudible inside the car. According to factory data, the CL 500 accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 6,5 seconds. In my hands, this 12-year-old CL accelerated to 100 km/h in only 7,1 seconds.

The braking system is highly reliable, since it is reinforced with powerful Brembo braking system, which can be seen through the 19-inch Lorinser wheels. In my test, the brakes showed high efficiency- the car fully stopped after 34 meters of braking distance.
By the way, the smooth running is supported with a 5-speed automatic gearbox, which can also be shifted manually. The preferred driving mode can be saved in the memory of the computer, which controls the transmission, after which the operation of the transmission is adapted to the selected mode.
As for interior, compared to the S-class sedan, there is no change- the same luxurious finishing, comfortable seats with heating and ventilation and the same informative dashboard. The positions of the seats, steering column, wing mirrors are electronically controlled and can be saved in the memory of the computer for three different drivers.

There is plenty of power, dynamics and stability to perform any kind of maneuvers in a dense stream of cars moving at high speeds. There is also enough maneuverability to park the car at tiny places. The interior is so comfortable that you will rest during the ride.
 During the ride, I never stopped amazing at how carefully every detail was thought out in this car. I had the impression that the car was able to guess and instantly fulfill every whim of the driver.
Undoubtedly, among all vehicles designed for active driving, the CL 500 Lorinser is one of the most appropriate options to fully meet the requirements of its owner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Enigmatic Car (Unrecognized Mercedes)

It is obvious that our today’s hero belongs to the family of Mercedes-Benz, but I find it rather difficult to make a deduction exactly which model it is.
The exact year of production of this "mysterious" Mercedes is unknown. The owner offered his version, but, having carefully examined the car, I couldn’t come to a certain conclusion on the production year.

The reason for that is that the car has undergone numerous changes at the hands of its previous owners. Before appearing in Armenia, the car must have been carelessly used somewhere in the Soviet Union after the World War II (I am more than sure that the car was brought to the USSR as a war trophy from Germany like many other retro miracles), and then it was shamelessly equipped with details and spare parts taken from soviet cars, so it altered beyond all recognition.
However, after much research, I found that there was a similar model manufactured between 1932 and 1937, which had various body modifications: a sedan, like our undiscovered hero, the Pullman (the elongated version of the sedan), coupe-cabriolet, “landole”, etc.

At first glance, our hero bears a strong resemblance to Mercedes-Benz 200 W21, which was first introduced at Berlin Motor Show in 1933, but at the same time, it also bears external resemblance to 260D model, which was also introduced at the same motor show as the first passenger vehicle with a diesel engine in 1936. I also learned that the 200 W21, in spite of being produced in large quantities (15622 samples), didn’t play a major role in the history of the German car manufacturer.
As for the D260, it was a “trailblazer” in the world of automotive industry. In the mid-thirties of the last century, not many people believed in the success of passenger cars with diesel engines, but time has shown quite the reverse- every second vehicle runs on diesel fuel nowadays.

When I found out that the first diesel engine car was built on the chassis of the 230 model, which was subsequently built on the chassis of the 200, I only then understood the reason of the similarity between our unknown Mercedes, the 200  W21 and the 260D. The 200 W21 was the most affordable and fuel-efficient car of its time, and the 230 was the petrol engine modification of the 200 W21.
It is impossible to even guess which engine the car was equipped with, diesel or petrol, since it underwent not only numerous external changes, but also external. There is nothing left from the original chassis either.
One thing for sure, this car belongs to the family of Mercedes-Benz, the members of which have always been the tops.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

BMW 330Ci Cabriolet

Since the release of the first model in 1975, the BMW 3 series has become a unique and very popular car all over the world. The reason for this success is the combination of the best technical characteristics:  inline engine, rear wheel drive, a choice of manual or automatic transmission and independent suspension.
Over the years the concept of this model has not changed- a sports car for transportation of passengers and cargo.

This powerful “pile of muscles” is designed to meet the highest standards of accuracy, reliability and durability. The production of 3 series was launched in 1999. By the year 2001, there were already 10 models on the production line, including two four-wheel sedans and a sport pickup. The 330 sedan and the coupe started to be released in June 2000. The version330 (2001) convertible completed the model  line. The 330 Ci convertible was produced in Regensburg, Germany.

The interior decorations and trimmings are available in one version.
However, the highlight of the car is hidden under the hood. The car is equipped with a powerful inline-6 24-valve 3.0 L DOHC engine with VANOS system. This engine produces 231 HP at 5900 rpm, which is more than enough to make your adrenaline run high. The transmission is available in two versions: a standard 5-speed manual with a direct drive and an automatic 5-speed adaptive transmission. The latter can be used manually without using the clutch. The convertible is not available in four-wheel drive version.
For such a car, it is vitally important to have a short barking distance. After accelerating the car to 100km/h, I slammed on the brake. The car moved about 31 meters, before stopping finally.

Undoubted advantages:
The powerful inline-6 engine has impressive characteristics!
“Goodyear Eagle RS-A P205/50R17” tires together with the super suspension press the car tightly to the road. The suspension system consists of longitudinal and transverse rods, hydraulic cushions and a front stabilizer. The front and rear dual shock absorbers allow you to feel confident on any road.
External visibility is excellent. The display and controls are located towards the driver like in a racing car, which is extremely convenient to use.  The 330 Ci is undoubtedly comfortable both  for the  driver and passengers.
The roof is perfectly made not only mechanically, but also aesthetically- it folds and unfolds through a simple press of a button. The entire process is automated- no fuss, no worries.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Born in 1941 : Buick Eight Century

In this article I will introduce the Buick Eight Century 1941, one of the legends of American auto industry. Today this car travels through the streets of Yerevan resuscitating the spirit of 1940's. No-one can resist being mesmerized by the charm of this retro miracle. In spite of its 70-year existence, the Buick Eight Century is no inferior to many modern cars in the quality of assembly materials, comfort, design and many other standards.

The history of this car started in 1936, when Harlow Curtice, the head of the Buick division of GM, decided to rename the entire model lineup for the 1936 model year to celebrate the engineering achievements and design advancements over their 1935 models. Buick's Series 40 model range became the Special, the Series 80 became the Roadmaster and the Series 90, the largest and most luxurious vehicles of Buick, became the limited. As for the Century, it took the place of the Series 60.

The basic principle for the 1936 to 1942 Century was established by mating shorter wheelbase Buick Special bodies to Buick's 8-cylinder engine.Whereas the Special was equipped with Buick's 233 in³ engine with a capacity of 93HP at 3200 rpm, Centuries manufactured between 1935 to 1942 were equipped with Buick's inline 320.2 in³ at 120 HP, which made them the fastest Buicks of all times capable of accelerating the car to 160 km/h. This engine supported by 3-speed automatic transmission earned the Century the nickname "banker's hotrod".

The production of the Century was stopped at the end of the abbreviated 1942 model year, when total model production only accounted for about 10 percent of Buick's total productivity.
To my utter amazement, the owner of the car allowed me to make a few laps...
My impressions-no words can adequately convey what I felt during the ride. That was probably the brightest moment in my life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Alfa Romeo 156

The life of a beautiful car is always longer. For this reason, Alfa Romeo allows its models to be on the market, on average, for seven years, which is quite a long time. Moreover, all the works of Maestro Giugiaro who created the design of this car tend to exist as if beyond time. For the Italian company, this car became the successor of their legendary Gulietta model (developed at Bertone Atelier), which conquered the roads of the Apennine Peninsula and the rest of Europe in the mid-1950s. The appearance of Alfa Romeo 156 once again made it clear that, contrary to the claims of detractors, the fact of being taken under the wing of FIAT was not the end, but one of the development stages of the company.

Created in 1997, the Alfa Romeo 156 won the title of 'European Car of the Year' in 1998, thus becoming one of the best-selling vehicles in Europe. One of the key factors for that success was the exterior design of the car. Interesting is that the appearance of the 156 was developed not only by the traditional design partners such as Pininfarina, Bertone and Ital Design, but also by the native specialists of the Alfa Romeo Centro Style development center. The beautiful exterior is perfectly combined with the salon. The interior design is an example of exquisite craftsmanship, its calm and harmonious. I found lots of quaint details in the interior which reminded me of surreal paintings. I guess those details create an indescribably weird atmosphere in the salon. In general... it's damn so beautiful.
In Italy there is only one car manufacturer which has a higher cult status, and this is Ferrari, which shares the same principle: an excellent body built around the engine. 

Alfa Romeo is power, excellent dynamics and good engine sound. The car I managed to test was equipped with 2-liter engine with Twin Spark system (two sparks for one cylinder). The Twin Spark system is the "crown-technology" of Alfa Romeo. The second "fuse" creates a better fuel combustion, thereby increasing the efficiency of the engine.
This 2 L engine has a capacity of 155 HP. The maximal torque reaches 187 N m at 3800 rpm. In my test, the car accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.6 seconds. The maximal speed I managed to reach was 210 km/h ( not bad for a 12-year-old vehicle).
The 156 proved to have a super handling.
In my maneuver test, which simulated a high-speed freeway lane change, the 156 showed amazing results. It went through the slalom of cones at 80 km/h without understeering (instead of traditional 20 meters, the distance between the cones was shortened to 16 meters).

I also tried to figure out the braking distance of this Alfa Romeo. Having accelerated it to 100 km/h, I jammed on the brakes- the car stopped after traveling the distance of 34 meters.
In conclusion it should be mentioned that Italians also managed to find optimal settings for the suspension (front- specially designed construction with two forked levers, rear- MacPherson). It's stiff enough to almost completely eliminate any body-roll and at the same time it appeared to be quite comfortable.
The price of a used Alfa Romeo 156 ranges from $6000 to $11.000 in Armenia. The car is recommendable to those, who wouldn't treat it like an ordinary means of transportation. This vehicle is sure to brighten your driving experiences.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The American Aero-Style or Detroit Baroque: Ford Galaxie Fairlane 1959

Ashot Saroyan is one of the few car enthusiasts, whose hunt for a retro car almost always ends with success. Only recently, he has succeeded in acquiring three fantastic cars: 1940 Buik, 1959 and 1967 Fords. And this is only the beginning of building up a valuable collection of retro cars.
In this article I will introduce one of Ashot's latest acquisitions, namely his enormous Ford Galaxie Fairlane produced in 1959. Although Ashot bought the car two years ago, he only quite recently unveiled it to the public at the Annual Retro Car Show in Yerevan. He found the car in the US and, as he mentioned, loved it at first sight. 

The 1950's American car was generally considered as a symbol of success and obviously differed from the cars of previous decades. In those times, American cars were designed in so-called aero-style, which was also known as Detroit Baroque.

In 1959, by celebrating its 50.000.000th car, Ford Motor Company designed the jubilee model Galaxie 500. Our today's hero is also the product of that celebration.
This 55-year-old sedan amazingly retained its original appearance. Every single detail is the original. The factory-furished salon can astonish anyone with subtle harmony of colors. Even the small floor mats are in perfect harmony with the salon atmosphere.

This Galaxie, like any other Ford produced in 1959, stands out for its beautiful, symmetric and subtle body lines. In 1959, all the models of Galaxie series received a gold medal for unique body styling. In accordance with that era, the Galaxie was decorated with chrome and stainless steel; the body was painted mainly in two colors. It was an image of the American dream. The Galaxie was designed for six passengers, and therefore can be considered as a family car.

As for the engine, in 1950's it was ridiculously inappropriate to own a car with an engine, the volume of which was smaller than 5 liters. The models of Galaxie series were equipped either with 4.8 L or 5.1 L V8 engines with capacity of 200-300 HP. Those engines were supported with 3-speed manual or 2-speed automatic gearboxes.

It is to mention, that the car still demonstrates perfect riding qualities and provides incredible comfort for its passengers. The owner, however, believes that the car will demonstrate better results after some little restoration works.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Porsche Cayenne

The Porsche Cayenne has been an absolute hit for the last few years. Initially, the public was reluctant to accept this SUV produced by one of the legendary car manufacturers of all times, since it had the same roots with Volkswagen Touareg.  But when the fans of the genre tried this mixture of speed, off-road ability and luxury, the car gained in popularity within weeks. Automotive cooperation and unification often produce controversial results, since the creation of a car is not based on design concept, but on financial and marketing component.

It’s obvious that the Cayenne has more in common with the Touareg than with other representatives of the family. When glancing at Porsche 911 and the Cayenne at the same time, it immediately becomes clear “who” the real Porsche is and “who” the carrier of the spirit of the legend is. This concerns not only the interior but also exterior.
But, as soon as you start the engine, all these material observations pass into the background, since under the hood of this car there is a monster with a capacity of 500,5 HP (the figure “500,5” is the result of the vaunted German precision).

Is the back part roomy? Can three adults feel comfortable on the back seats? How big is the trunk? All these questions are no longer important, when you take the wheel and start the rocket-acceleration of this car. I have tested cars with better handling, ride quality and travelling comfort, but as for acceleration, this car has been the best so far. In our times, you can hardly surprise anyone with the acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h, and therefore I tried the acceleration after 160 km/h, which was simply astonishing. Returning to domestic characteristics, I have to admit that the rear part of the salon is just a mite cramped for three passengers. Third-row seats are not available even as an option, but at the same time, the trunk lacks for useful volume.

 To my mind, such a big SUV could provide more comfort for the rear passengers. Unfortunately, the Cayenne can boast neither of smooth ride nor directional stability. It’s particularly uncomfortable the acceleration at full throttle on washboards of the asphalt. It requires some tension and concentration to keep the car in the lane after 90 km/h.
The price of a used Cayenne ranges from $20.000 to $50.000 and judging by the abundance of this model, it can be considered as one of the most beloved cars of Armenians.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Fiat Coupe

The two-door Fiat Coupe was first introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in 1993. Its predecessor is the Fiat Dino. The production of this model was set up in Turin, Italy. The exterior of this model was designed by Chris Bangle, and the interior by the world-famous Pininfarina. Perhaps that's why the car looks so bright, dynamic and moderately aggressive.

The harsh nature of this car is emphasized by the red brake calipers, perforated front brake discs and the exhibited glittering aluminum petrol cap in the style of a racing car. The slight protuberance of the headlights adds seductiveness to the appearance. The interior style is the logical continuation of the exterior. However, the interior of the Fiat Coupe is more traditional than the exterior. The body-colored stripe on the front panel, through which the separate round gauges are seen, is a long-forgotten classic genre. The pudgy steering wheel has two adjustment positions (on the height and length of the column). The style of gauges makes me feel like in a cockpit of an aircraft (a voltmeter, pressure indicator, oil temperature indicator, etc.). Your driving pride will be flattered by the large aluminum engine start button- everything is looks like in a real racing car.  But in spite of its foppishenss, the Fiat Coupe is still a quite practical car, ideal for the city.
The rear seats are comfortable not only for children, but also for adults. Unlike most two-door cars, this Fiat has a roomy trunk (300 liters). Three years after the production start, the car underwent restyling. The exterior of the Fiat Coupe, except the radiator grille, hardly changed. All the stylish details which made the car stand out on the background of other coupes remained unchanged. The basic changes were applied to the power plant of the car. The car was given a new twin-cam, five-cylinder 2L turbo-engine with a regulator of engine speed.  This very engine is hidden under the hood of the car I tested.
A few words about the driving properties:

The car demonstrated mind-boggling results. The acceleration from 0-100 km/h the Coupe performed in 8 seconds! That was simply astonishing for a car which was manufactured in 1996.
The maximal speed I managed to press out of this car was 239 km/h. Just think about it…239 km/h for almost a 20-year-old vehicle. The basic rivals of the Fiat Coupe are the CLK Mercedes and Porsche Boxter. And I am more than sure that neither of the rivals with the same age can demonstrate such results.
But the biggest advantage of the Fiat Coupe is its price- it ranges from $6000-$10.000 in Armenia. So, if you plan to buy a CLK, Boxter or a BMW 3 series of the last century, just hold your horses.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moskvitch-400. The Soviet car with German roots…

The production of Moskvitch-400 started soon after the end of World War II. It became the first mass-production car in the USSR available to all classes of soviet society. The design of Moskvitch-400 was copied from German Opel Kadett K38. Al the necessary technological equipment was taken from Opel factory in Rüsselsheim, and only the stamps on the doors were developed in Moscow. Some believe that the stamps on the back doors were lost during the transportation from Germany and were to be designed anew. But the K 38 was also produced in two-door modification and therefore it is reasonable to assume that the stamps on the doors were taken from it.

There is an interesting story about why Moskvitch-400 was produced in four-door-body modification:
When Stalin was at the factory to test the car, he sat next to the driver and said to Vasily Tahtarov, the director of the factory, ‘You also get in the car, dear director’, he turned pale and was about to collapse. He could not even imagine saying, ‘Comrade Stalin, would you, please, get out of the car for a minute, so I can fold the seat and take my place in the back’.  But luckily for him, the leader was in a good mood that day. Stalin clumsily got out of the cramped car and said discontentedly,’ make it easy for people’, and left. So the body was redesigned and got four doors.

The prewar Kadett produced in 1938 had a modern design and was well adapted for mass production. This allowed, on December 4, 1946, to successfully assemble the first Moskvitch-400 in the USSR.
The car had a frameless body construction, independent suspension of the front wheels and hydraulic braking system. The four-cylinder flat-head engine with a displacement of 1074 cc. was able to produce 23 HP at 3600 RPM.  The low compression (5.8) allowed the use of low-octane petrol A-66. The top speed reached 97km/h. In the period 1946 to 1956, there were produced 247439 units of this car.
The red Moskvitch-400 shown in photos is a production of 1950. It belongs to Arshak Piloyan, who acquired the car from an Azerbaijani refugee. The car was almost destroyed as he bought it, so immense effort had to be put into making it look as it does now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

9th meeting!!!

The 9th meeting of our club is relocated from “Tpagrichner” territory to the Football Academy in Avan (see the map),44.557384,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x406aa2efa31e6acf:0xdfdae823bd93936f .

The date is the same:  October 26 (Sunday). The registration is closing on October 20.
Please, send us detailed photos of your car and a photocopy of a Vehicle Registration Certificate.
More detailed information about meeting and the program guide will be available soon.
Good Luck!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mitsubishi Pajero

This is the famous Mitsubishi Pajero produced in five various modifications for different countries.
Whereas the forth-generation Pajero conquered  the world, the Pajero Sport was successfully sold everywhere except Japan. Their younger brother called Pinin or iO was manufactured in Italy specially for Southeast Asian countries as well as for some South American regions.

As for the Pajero Mini, the resourceful Japanese designed it only for domestic market.
I guess the most eccentric version is the Pajero Junior or just Jr. manufactured between 1995 and 1998. With the length of only 3500 mm, this “baby” inherited not only the external features from the bigger Pajero, but also the ability to travel through the impassable.
Now let’s slightly explore the car.
This Junior was manufactured in 1996 and has a 1.1 L petrol engine. The packaging arrangement includes full electronic package, air conditioning, 3-speed automatic transmission and a selectable 4-wheel drive system with low and high gear ratios.
I was pleasantly surprised by the capacity of the salon. Thanks to the high roof and low position of the seats, there is plenty of useful room inside the car. Although being designed for five passengers, in reality, the salon can comfortably take four. Five passengers can be crammed into the car, however.
The dashboard is as plain as possible, so nothing can distract the driver’s attention. But the most promising thing in the car is the tachometer with the maximal 9000 rpm indication- the red line starts with 7000 rpm. 
In order to reveal the full off-road potential of this “baby”, I tested the car in a harsh and hilly terrain. And would you believe it, the Junior was almost as good as its “elder brother”.

Moreover, I managed to reach the top of the hill just within seconds, as if the car had been on a straight road. I would like to particularly outline the performance of the 3-speed gearbox: everything was quick, smooth and with no delays.
The steering control is very light, so you’ll never be annoyed during an active drive; but on the other hand, it becomes less informative at high speeds. The Jr. has a stiff suspension and great energy consumption. I’d also like to add that the 80 HP produced by the 1.1 L engine is more than enough for this light vehicle. But the biggest benefit of this engine is the low fuel consumption ( city- 9 L/100 km, highway- 5 L/100 km).
So, if you plan to buy a little but a full-fledged offroader for about $5000, do not hesitate, the Jr. is the best option for you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mercedes Benz SL 450

I had never seen this rare vehicle in the streets of Yerevan before- although being some distance away from me, I noticed it, chased it and asked the driver to stop the car and give me some information about his” red wolf”.  This Mercedes is not well known to Armenian motorists, since it was mainly produced for the North American market and wasn’t sold in other countries.

Now I will try to produce some useful information about this car.
This is the Mercedes-Benz 450 SL with R107 body indication. The first model built on R107 body was the 350 SL, the production of which started in 1971. The production line was stopped in 1989 and the last representative of the R107 was the 500 SL.
The 450 SL is the cabriolet version of the R107, which was produced from 1973 to 1980 only for US market. The body was strictly designed in accordance with the US safety standards and was equipped with a special galvanized convertible top to protect it from corrosion.
The anti-lock braking system (ABS) was first applied in this model. Before going on mass production, the car underwent serious trials and is believed to be one of the most reliable cabriolets of its time.
Initially, the 450 SL was equipped with a soft convertible top. However, being forced to pander to the whim of some clients, the designers created an optional rigid convertible top.
The car is equipped with 4.5 L V8 engine with a capacity of 225 HP. This engine is supported with 4-speed automatic transmission and accelerates the car up to 220 km/h consuming 12 L petrol per 100km. The engines of 450 SL were especially highly appreciated by the US specialists and motorists. Before a major overhaul, the engine was used from 700.000 to 1,600.000 kilometers!

Although this 450 SL was manufactured in 1974, it has cruise control system, air conditioning, power windows and heated seats.
This 450 SL was many times filmed in Hollywood movies as a car for millionaires, actors and even gangsters, since it was a symbol of success and wealth.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The SLK 230 (Part 2)

It’s a pity that many of the design elements of the salon which pleased lots of aesthetes at the concept show weren’t realized in the serial car. The front console and the dashboard- they were simply amazing!  Where had it all gone?!

Oh well… there is something left from the dashboard of the concept version, but where is the rest? Probably, the designers of Mercedes Benz eventually got scared of what they had created and decided to smooth the corners, remove the eccentric shapes, use too contrasting color combinations and as a result, they rolled down to the banal salon style of the modern SL. Of course, when designing a car, today’s manufacturers, first of all, take unification, standardization, cost reduction and global style into account. However, this roadster could have been an exception.
The design of this SLK can be classified as most advanced: white-and-black interior with snow white body. The specificity of the SLK is emphasized by the above mentioned dashboard and perforated light alloy foot pedals.
Now let’s explore the dynamic properties of this car.
The car is equipped with 2.3L 150HP engine, which, thanks to the native compressor, is easily boosted up to 193 HP. This engine is supported by a tiptronic gearbox. The top speed I managed to get out of this engine was 229 km/h (not bad for a 10-year-old vehicle).

In spite of the automatic transmission, the car accelerated 0-100km/h only in 9 seconds. Taking into account the weight of this SLK (1325 kg), this is a quite good result.
The SLK passed the brake test also well. Having accelerated the car to 100km/h, I slammed on the brakes, after which the car moved 30 meters without deviating from the path given.
The steering system in a lightly modified version was inherited from C-class- it’s light enough throughout the speed range. However, some drivers would change this lightness for more self-descriptiveness. When, in corners, it comes to sliding, the lack of maneuverability of the SLK can be felt, but only slightly. By the way, the rear wheels of the SLK230 are wider than the front ones, which adds stability to the vehicle. The behavior of the car is quite predictable and easy to cope with. Due to the exceptional traction of the back wheels and excellent suspension, this car can be considered as one of the best in its class and price range.

In conclusion I’d like to add that the SLK is an ideal choice for those who have always dreamt of a Ferrari but can’t afford it. One more important note- before buying this car, remember: the SLK must be the second or the third vehicle in your garage.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The SLK 230

The SLK 230 Compressor is a sport coupe-cabriolet (or to be more exact, a roadster) with convertible roof system. What can I say about this car? Firstly, this is a Mercedes, and secondly, this is again Mercedes.
Now let’s find out what our hero is like!

I’d like to start with the exterior, since external appearance is the most outstanding feature of this car.
You only need to park this “baby” in a public area, retract the roof by pushing a button, open the tuned guillotine-doors, and the success is guaranteed- the crowd will stare at your vehicle in mute amazement.
The roof of the SLK can be considered as a complete work of art. The process of retraction is really fascinating. Within 25 seconds, the car will be transformed from a roadster into a coupe. Moreover, this is not a rag roof, but a real rigid roof with a full-fledged heated rare window.  The roof tightly fits the body, without any gaps.
I’d also like to mention, that in spite of its sports appearance, the car conserves the classic style characteristic of Mercedes.

Undoubtedly, this car was not designed for a quiet city driving- race track is the natural environment of this little beast. The SLK is created for active and confident people. In spite of its short wheelbase (2400 mm), the SLK was given a roomy engine compartment and it’s quite natural: such a solution improves the aerodynamic properties of the car and allows the engine to be placed as close as possible to the central part, which markedly improves the handling, since when the weight of the car is equally divided between the axles, the steering becomes more easy-to-handle. Under the hood of this little “baby”, there is a quite serious power unit. As you see on the photos, instead of 16-inch factory wheels, the car is equipped with 17-inch ones, which complete the sport appearance of this SLK.
Co be continued…

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Forgotten Steyr

There is a legend behind every old vehicle. And as a rule, the older the car is, the more impressive the legend is. As you know, some old cars haven’t been justly treated by fate.
There are numerous examples when real rarities just died in the open air only leaving their mark in the history of automotive industry.

The company called Steyr is primarily known for its trucks and specialized vehicles. But there was a period in the history of the company, when it manufactured passenger cars, the designers of which were such prominent names as Hans Ledvinka and Ferdinant Porsche.
Our team was lucky to be slightly affected with a part of the history. It all started with a legend…

For many years, in a certain circle of our friends, there was a cock and bull story passing from generation to generation.

It happened in 1945, after unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. There was a soldier of Armenian descent, who, on the way home, noticed a black sedan flipped over on its side right on the battlefield. The car was immediately put on the wheels and served as a personal transport to native land. Unfortunately, the rumors couldn’t identify the brand of the car, however, some distinguishing features of the car was reported: wooden wheels, bulled-riddled windshield, native tool box around the spare wheel, etc.
Unfortunately, for a long time, it was impossible to check out if there were any historical facts in this story which would correspond to reality, since the anonymous car was and is in a village situated on the other end of Armenia. Moreover, the village and the capital are connected with a 500-kilometr terrible road (to be more exact, with road remains).

One fine winter day, our group managed to take an expedition into this deserted corned of Armenian wild nature. Finally we found the German trophy-car of unknown origin. As mentioned above, the car wasn’t justly treated by fate. In addition, folklore had added lots of non-existent parts and details.
As we can see, we have Steyr 220 in so-called limousine version (so was called sedans by Germans). This car was produced in the period from 1937 to 1941, and was the last pre-war passenger model of the company. In factory price list, Steyr 1938 could be found both as a 4-door sedan and open-top model with two and four doors. This model was equipped, for that time, with the most powerful in-line 6-cylinder petrol engine with a capacity of 2260 cm, which produced 50 HP. In all, there were produced 5900 samples of this model (all types of bodies included). Unfortunately, we have no reliable data on the number of extant copies.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Survived Mercedes

During the war, Daimler-Benz produced not only passenger cars of different classes, but also various trucks. The most popular pre-war model of the company had a body index W136. In the period from 1932 to 1945, more than 70.000 units of Mercedes-Benz V170 with different body types (2- and 4-dorrsedans, convertibles, roadsters, trucks and even vans) came off the Stuttgart production line. After the war, the restored factories restarted the production in 1946. And of course, the first post-war model became Mercedes-Benz V170, which already had been in production before the war. This model had several modifications and was produced until 1955.
This V170 produced in 1940 was brought to Moscow immediately after the war. How long the car stood idle in the garage of some general Mikhailov is unknown. But one thing is certain: it arrived in Yerevan in 1954, thanks to Albert Shagoyan. According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Albert did everything in his power to persuade the general to sell the trophy-car. Glory to God, the car was finally in the right hands. For its unique body design and original decorative grill, the 1940 model can be recognized even by a blind man. The Germans, at that time, didn’t keep up with the automotive fashion dictated by the Americans and French and refused to enhance aerodynamic shapes at the expense of classic lines of the body.
During the whole time of operation, the car has undergone some changes, which mainly affected the technical equipment. Instead of the native 4-cylinder 1.7L powerful petrol engine, now, under the hood, there is an engine and manual transmission taken from soviet Volga VAZ 21. The same is with the chassis: almost all the mechanical components and assemblies are taken from the same hateful Volga.
All this is done in order to facilitate the daily use of the car, but over time the annual millage of this Mercedes is getting smaller and smaller; at the same time, its cultural and material value is increasing.  As for the interior and exterior of this survived car, everything is maximally authentic. The non-original wheels (again, taken from Volga) are the only conspicuous difference.
The owner of this car is a real connoisseur of car-rarities. He claims he has been displaying fanaticism towards old car from an early childhood (hard to believe, judging by the way he treats his “automotive-sculpture”).
Just for info, this car is said to be the first foreign car brought to Soviet Armenia.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Toyota Mark II

Almost all generations of Toyota Mark II looked incredibly charismatic- especially the two-door model produced in the period up to the year 1980. The last Mark II produced by Toyota was also a coupe and had a body series X 30/X 40.This model was produced from December 1976 to August 1980. Exactly this model will be discussed in today’s article.

I had never seen this model in Yerevan before and the first time I heard about it from the workers of Toyota Service Center, to whom once an owner of Mark II turned to repair the engine.
Having found him, I did everything in my power to help him have the engine repaired. How that man treated the car further- was a big question, since we no longer saw each other.
By the way, these are the photos taken in that period.
A few years later, one my friends decided to enrich his retro car collection with Toyota Mark II X40 (coupe version). Our search did not last too long, since there were very few such Toyotas in Armenia.
Soon we found the very car, which is described above. It was a forty-minute drive from Yerevan to a village called Ushi. We were delighted to see the car in such a good condition. Of course, there were some missing details, unoriginal parts and minor damages on the body. But the good news was that the metal wasn’t corroded at all. However, the most interesting was under the hood. It turned out that after repeated attempts, the owner had failed to fully restore the native engine and replaced it with a carburetor-engine of soviet GAZ-24.

 This engine is well-known for its simplicity in operation. However, under no circumstances can this straight-four engine be compared with the native six-cylinder multipoint fuel injection engine.
It didn’t take much persuasion to make the owner agree to sell the car, but only on condition that we bought it without the engine.  So we had to exert every effort to manage to take out the engine before dark and send the car to our garage on a tow truck. We had set off for Ushi with light luggage and without having thought of an instant purchase. And therefore we only had a couple of wrenches, a bent screw driver, pliers and an adjustable spanner. It's hard to believe, but it took an hour for us to remove the engine, which was so valuable for the former owner and so much unsuitable for us.
At present, this Toyota is at an initial stage of restoration- all the missing components are intensely searched for. We have found the original engine only quite recently.
That’s all for now.
Watch for updates to be informed about the restoration progress of this car.