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.