Sunday, June 29, 2014

Steyr 220: The Belle of the Streets

Just a few years after production, this beauty was brought to Moscow as a war trophy, and then it arrived in Armenia. The “almighty time” and careless treatment had ravaging effects on the car, and only thanks to immense human persistence and long restoration works, this Austrian miracle, Steyr 220, can be seen on the streets of Yerevan.

Steyr 220 is mainly known to those car fans who have studied the automotive history quite well.
This cabriolet is the product of Steyr Daimler Puch, a big manufacturing conglomerate based in Austria. It was first introduced in 1937 and was produced by Steyr until 1941. This model is considered as the logical progression of Steyr 100 (designer-Hans Ledwinka), which caused a buzz of excitement among customers through its aerodynamic properties. The car had a four-cylinder engine with a capacity of 32 HP, which allowed the car with a sleek aerodynamic body to speed up to 100 km/h consuming only 10 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers. But the real success came with Steyr 200, which had a more powerful engine and was soon developed to Steyr 220.
The 220 was equipped with a six-cylinder in-line engine with displacement of 2260 cc, which produced 55 HP. The front suspension was built on an independent and transverse leaf spring- the rear one had two quarter elliptic springs. The transmission had four speeds. The four-door (limousine) version weighed 1250 kg- the two-door convertible weighed 10kg more.

On the chassis of 220 there were produced two types of convertibles: the standard version, like the one on the photos, with a price of 6750 Reichsmark, and the four-window Steyr, manufactured by Glaser, a car body manufacturer in Dresden. Taking only the base body, the designers of Glaser newly assembled the car according their own drawings- and as a result the car got more streamlined shapes. Of course this version was more expensive (about 7000 Reichmarks). Throughout its history, the company produced 8000 six-cylinder models (120/220), and only 1000 of which were the two-door cabriolets.

Steyr 220
Body: convertible
Sizes: 4570/1650/1600
Wheelbase: 2830
Fuel consumption: 14L petrol/100 km
Engine type: in-line, 6-cylinders
Engine displacement:  2260cc
HP: 55
Top speed: 120km/h
Transmission: 4-speed, manual
Weigh: 1250kg

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Reanimated Niva (Part 2)

Unlike the base version, this Niva is equipped with ABS and EPS systems. The factory engine is also deeply modified: the original crankshaft is replaced with sport one, the camshaft was modernized by Aharon Martikyan, one of the leading engine specialists of Soviet Armenia, the exhaust system is smartly replaced with that of Mercedes-Benz ML, etc.

As a result, the engine volume was increased from 1,7L to 2,2L with a capacity of 144HP. This engine is supported by a newly assembled transmission, the gearwheels of which are taken from Chevrolet Niva, the predecessor of VAZ-2121. Thus, we have a quicker and more smoothly functioning 5-speed gear box, which leaves all the disappointments with the factory gear box behind.
But, I must say that all the technical innovations were left in the background, as soon as I got into the saloon.
The inside is trimmed of blue and yellow Dutch and German natural leather, which is no way inferior in the quality of such world famous brands as Volkswagen, Audi and even Mercedes-Benz!
I would especially like to draw your attention to the fact that everything (besides the camshaft) you see on the pictures is made by the hands of the car owner.

He even went to Europe to get an appropriate sewing machine, since no Armenian trimming company was able to satisfy his demands.
The frond seats are replaced with that of BMW 3 series (E36 body type)-rear seats are completely handmade.
The dashboard partly belongs to Chevrolet Niva. The roof is reinforced with special pipes, which avoids useless shivers when driving off-road. The installation of Clarion audio system with total capacity of 1000 watts is worthy of particular praise. And of course, there are CD and DVD players with an LCD screen and TV tuner. Another screen is connected to the parking system.

In conclusion I’d like to add that the owner has already spent more than 4 years and 35.000 US dollars to modernize this unique vehicle; moreover, the works are still in progress… and indeed, improvement is boundless.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Reanimated Niva

The task of auto tuning companies is not only to strive to modify engines, but also make cars look vivid and unique, because having a tuned car is a manner to stand out against the “gloomy” background of the rest automobiles like a diamond. One of the methods to emphasize the external individuality of a car is the modification or addition of aerodynamic details to the body. 

In Armenia, people basically take care of the external tuning, but there are very few people who love to be unique and different from others, and at the same time, appreciate high comfort  of a tuned car- one such person is Armen, who has literally been reanimating  his Niva for four years.
The story began in 2009, when our hero acquired Lada Niva (VAZ 2121) manufactured in 2004. The car had some minor damages, and so Armen got down to restoration works. But, in the course of time, an ordinary restoration was transformed into hard reanimating works, as a result of which we’ve got one of the most impressive Russian cars tuned in Armenia.

Prima facie, the car had minor external changes, but after a while, I gradually started to notice all details of the deep modification- the Bi-Xenon optics, two footboards handmade of truck triple muffler and 205/70 R16 wheels imply that this is not an ordinary vehicle. During the ride I fully appreciated the handling characteristics of this Niva (base version of Niva is notorious for its awful handling). The car is equipped with sports shock absorbers and springs.

 The back part is modified through additional body stabilizers, which slightly worsens the off-road qualities of the car, but on the other hand it positively affects the smooth running. As a result of all these changes, the car got heavier by only 70kg.
To be continued…

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Armenian Drag Racing

On June 11, I witnessed one of the greatest automotive events in Armenia, namely, a drag race contest organized by public organizations “Street Angels” and “Emotion Club”.
The aim of the contest is not only to discover new cars, but also new talents, in order to engage them in this newly developing sport in our country.

I must say, that in spite of some financial difficulties, the contest was organized at the highest level, in compliance with all safety measures. Of course, there were some minor omissions caused by our Armenian temperament- “to attain something by my own”.
There were 38 applicants with cars of various “weigh class” and engines: Mercedes-Benzes, Volkswagens, Audis, Porsches, Infinities, Range Rovers and almost the whole range of BMW (from 3 series to X6).
Surprisingly, the majority of the cars were base versions, without being specially tuned for such races-only few of them could be considered as a proper racing car.

 There were also lots of bikers at the track, who were just competing against each other.
At first, the organizers rated all the cars according to engine volume and horse power to classify contestants into equal groups. The contest was held in 4 categories. There was a special prize from Armenian State Automotive Federation. The winner in first category was Arman Badalyan with his unbelievable VW Golf!
The Second was Bayandur Danielyan and his deeply tuned Toyota Celica.
Third Prize winner was Adam Mamikonyan with BMW 325, and the absolute winner of the contest was Artak Chamasyan with his monstrous Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG.
After the official ending of the event, some of the contestants continued the show by introducing the abilities of their cars through crazy drifts. Two owners of BMW decided to compete with bikers-in order to somehow equalize the acceleration difference, the BMW drivers were given a 100-meter head start on a 402-meter track, but even this advantage didn’t help the BMWs avoid being destroyed by Honda CBR, which was equipped with 1000cc engine and was able to reach the speed 100km/h in 2.4 seconds!

I already mentioned that the absolute winner was the CLS63 AMG, but there was a guy who obstinately refused to take part in the contest with his car-that was the M6, the eternal enemy of AMG. However, after lots of attempts of persuasion, he unwillingly accepted the challenge of racing against the AMG and won.
Such an interesting day I spent at the former military airport of Nor Hachn. I really hope that this contest will be permanently held in our country.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Unknown Opel (Part 2)

Now let’s find out how the car behaves on the road.
The car is equipped with a mechanical (manual) transmission, which is an important circumstance, since an automatic gear box wouldn’t allow us to feel the dynamics of this car to the full. The 1.4L Ecotec engine produces 90 HP with an average fuel consumption of 7L /100km-good result for such an engine!

The first test the car was put to was the 0-100km/h acceleration test. According to manufacturer’s data, the Astra had to reach 100km/h in 12.5 seconds, but in my test, the car coped with it in 13.5 seconds. The reason for this was probably the bigger wheels and the age of the car-as we know, beauty demands victims. However, this result won’t be much of hindrance to speed lovers to enjoy the car at high speeds on freeways.
The second step was the brake test. At first, having accelerated the car to 80km/h, I jammed on the brakes-the result was good-the car stopped without deviating from the path. Then I decided to increase the extreme and hit the brakes after accelerating the car to 120 km/h- the car is destitute of ABS and, as expected, it started to feverishly fishtail along the track and completely stopped after travelling a braking distance of 28 meters.
Now I’d like to produce the results of maneuverability test.
Since this Opel Astra was put to test as a sports car, it was expected to show good handling, but unfortunately, the results were slightly disappointing.
During the whole test of maneuverability, I did not exceed the speed of 70km/h, and even at such a moderate speed, the Astra was unstable and deviating from the path given, moreover, the distance between traffic cones was 25 meters, instead of standard 20 meters. It is worth mentioning that neither the chassis nor the suspension of this “sports” Astra is provided for extreme drive.

The car is externally restyled and looks like a real sports car, but the chassis is no different from the base version.
Concluding this test, I’d like to add that, although this Opel did not pass all the tests brilliantly, be sure of one thing: this car will never go unnoticed along the streets of Yerevan.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Unknown Opel

It may seem strange, but this aggressive hatchback is an Opel Astra. I have a feeling that the “author”, by tuning this car, wanted to convey how an ordinary car can be radically transformed into something totally different; and indeed this Opel is a real sports car for the young.
Let’s start from the external appearance.

Here, the changes are obvious and full of innovative ideas: the front and rear bumpers are replaced with “daring” sport ones, the lower edges of the body, which almost touch the ground, give the car a fighting appearance. Besides, the car has acquired brilliant aerodynamics, which is of paramount importance, since this deeply modified car is no longer an ordinary Opel for the retiree-the less airstream penetrates through the lower part of the body, the stable the car is at high speeds.
The 17 inch light-alloy wheels are the next important part of the external tuning, which sort of finalize the general concept of the car. The wing mirrors are also different from the base version- they emphasize the sports character of the car, without affecting aerodynamics.
One of the logical solutions is the non-standard muffler, which dramatically boosts the engine power.

The only drawback of the exterior is the bumper, which is too low in my opinion- it can be easily damaged, when driving carelessly. However, this defect can probably be attributable to the poor quality of Armenian roads.
Now, let's move on to the interior. Being small in size, the Astra has quite a roomy saloon. The steering wheel is replaced with an airbagged steering wheel by Momo, an Italian design company that produces accessories and parts mainly for sports cars. The aluminum covers of the foot pedals also create a sports atmosphere in the saloon. The new dashboard is harmoniously combined with the new and stylish makeover.
To be continued...