Friday, December 30, 2016

Emka : The GAZ M1 (Part 1)

The GAZ M1 is a true classic of the soviet automobile industry. Its serial production at the “Gorky Automoble Plant” started in March 1936. During the next seven years of production, the plant released nearly 63.000 samples of the model M1. In fact, the M1 is the copy of the American Ford V8 only slightly adapted for soviet roads. During the war, in many soviet regions, these vehicles were the sole means of transport for the communication between cities and settlements.

The car introduced in this article arrived in the Soviet Armenia before the Second World War. Initially, along with other five similar cars, it was serving the visitors of the capital, mainly the guests of the “Intourist” hotel.  The “Emkas” can be seen almost in all old photographs of this part of the city, on the Astafiev Street, at the entrance of the “Intourist” hotel. Unfortunately, the fate of the other five cars is unknown to us, but the one we managed to find, has a very interesting history.
After many years of exploitation as a taxi, this car became so much worn out, that it was discarded by the city authorities, after which it became the property of Vanik, its driver, who was a famous driver in the city and  perfectly familiar with the technical part of the car. After a complete overhaul, the car was back on the wheels travelling around the city.
To be continued...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Restoration of a Pedal Car (Part 2)

Next, the guys restored the windshield. Like the original, there was used 3.5 mm transparent organic glass, which, after being bent, received the outlines of the factory windshield.
The glass fasteners were also made of stainless steel.

Now, it came to bumpers. As an example, the restorers procured an original bumper of the Moskvitch. The front and rear bumpers of this car are virtually the same. At first, our specialists created a mold in accordance with the factory bumper shape,only after which, using polyester resin and fiberglass, they managed to re-create the original bumpers.
Since the car was completely destitute of its seat, it was decided to make another one of plastic, which received a more ergonomic configuration. Thanks to the professional sewing of the upholstery cover, the seat looks quite pretty. The trimming was realized with high-quality artificial leather.

The wiring process was the final stage of the assembly of the pedal Moskvitch. Originally this model was equipped with 2 front lights with a capacity of 8 volts (0,068 amps.) But now, such lamps are no longer available for sale. More difficult it is to find an appropriate power source. Currently, two 12V batteries are connected to the light bulbs, which are switched on by means of a switch on the dashboard.
The restoration of this pedal Moskvitch was completed only in the summer of 2016.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Restoration of a Pedal Car (Part 1)

As I promised, today I will complete the story of the long-term restoration of Moskvitch, the most popular soviet pedal car ever produced, which was brought to our workshop for restoration almost  2 years ago, in the winter of 2014. Initially, the car had almost nothing original. The few native parts, which had the car, were either damaged, or could not be restored any longer. At first, our masters got down to the restoration of the decayed body. In fact,  It was one of  the most ambitious and complicated restorations our specialists had to ever deal with.  In the end, the construction of the pedal car got integrated with a 40-mm-square frame with a thickness of 2.5 mm.

After completing the painting work, the guys started the assembly process. Stainless steel bolts and nuts (in some cases zinc-nickel plated details) were applied in the joints of the rear wheel drive. The aluminum radiator grille was thoroughly restored. After being polished, like the wheel covers, it was inlaid with silver enamel. The exact duplicate of the steering wheel  was joined to a steering rack, which was made of polished stainless steel in accordance with the original sample. The steering wheel with a horn button was produced by "" in Saint Petersbourg. The exact copies of the brake lights were made in Moscow by the specialists of “Retrozakaz”, who even provided color selection.
To be continued...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Interesting Offer: BMW 3-series (Part 2)

As it later turned out, this BMW, produced in 1990, had been purchased by the current owner almost immediately after the release and had been being actively used for fun since then. In fact, this car predetermined the preference of his family years ahead. Namely, all the family members, over years, have become lucky owners of cars belonging to the make of BMW.

Initially, it was assumed that the restoration would last until the middle of next year. The clients decided to add uniqueness to their car. Externally, they wished the car to be identical with its sport modification from BMW Motorsport. For the EU market, there have been released only 2164 instances of M version with this body, which is a quite rare model nowadays. Alongside with the body restoration, we started to work on engine modification. The former 2.5-liter 6-cylinder engine, after some magic manipulation, turned into a powerful 3.0-liter engine aggregated with automatic transmission. The original interior was also changed -- a new steering wheel from M-series was installed.

The suspension also underwent some refinements. We installed new enhanced braking system with supports and discs from the E 46. After nine months of anticipation, the restoration was completed. The car is in an ideal condition now. The owner is back in the saddle again. Visually, this BMW can be distinguished from the M3 by the wheels of different design and additional side lights on the front and rear bumpers (such side lights have been installed on some north American BMW models, but never on the E 36).

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Interesting Offer: BMW 3-series

Some cars are like domestic pets. After the acquisition, the owners grow so attached to them, that they never want to part with them. For this reason, some cars forever remain as a family member. The family heads always protect them, timely take care for them and, in the end, these cars become rare findings for collectors and classic car fans.

In the past, this alignment of events would be easy to imagine and realize, but, as we know, marketing has gradually become the driving force of progress, including automotive industry. New models are released with unbelievable frequency, but unfortunately with decreasing percentage of durability. Accordingly, the owners of the cars produced in 21st century are unlikely to keep their cars in excellent condition after years of use.
Against the background of this seemingly undeniable truth, the following story seems fantastic:

In September 2015, a family of architects from Yerevan came to our workshop. The originality of the order was the fact that the subject of the discussion was an ordinary BMW 3-series with the body index E36, which was supposed to be completely dismantled and repaired with restoration meticulousness. The restoration garage “Hot Road Armenia” gladly accepted this extraordinary challenge.

To be continued…

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Determination & Result (Part 3)

According to photos, he also made most of the missing interior parts: the front fenders, hood, bumpers, soft-top and windshield frame, etc.
As a creative individual, Mr. Mkhitaryan took an exceptional approach to the restoration of this car. However, from the technical point of view, the master did not invent anything new. The chassis is mainly based on steel units taken from various cars produced by the Gorky Automobile Plant GAZ, particularly from such models as the GAZ-24 and Gaz-69.

The engine and transmission are also borrowed from the GAZ-24. Perhaps, in our time, such abundant usage of soviet details in this car would seem unwise, but considering the fact that the restoration took place in 1970-80’s, when it was almost impossible to find original components for foreign cars, it seems the only way to restore the Willys.

Another interesting fact is that this car, in the available documents, is indicated as a product of 1957. The numbers of chassis, body and engine are not entered in the technical passport, however. After years of restoration, the car was on wheels once again and left Karapet Mkhitaryan’s workshop.
In early 2000, this car was a frequent guest at many exhibitions of vintage cars in Yerevan. Now this car is the pride of the Mkhitaryans.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Determination & Result (Part 2)

For a long time, Mr. Mkhitaryan struggled with himself to find the strength to start the restoration process of this car.
After a few weeks of contemplation, our hero finally dared to buy the remains of the seemingly lost Willys and slowly started the fabrication of the missing parts with his own hands.

Karapet Mkhitaryan is a well-known Armenian sculptor. He has produced many prominent metal sculptures, which adorn the streets and parks of Yerevan. One his famous works is the abstract statue of Arno Babajanyan, the great Armenian composer. The master Mkhitaryan applied all his talent and experience in working with metal to make the carrier frame for the open-body car.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Determination & Result (Part 1)

Unlike many other cars, this one was incredibly lucky with its owner, particularly when considering the fact that it was acquired in a totally destroyed condition.
Unfortunately, old vehicles eventually lose their original parts, which are replaced with those of taken from various suitable cars. Unluckily, this usually happens, when the car is still used for its primary purpose -- the transportation of passengers and cargo.

 And there comes the moment, when the number of broken parts in the car exceeds that of the others, as a result, the car either ends up in a junkyard, or it is pushed deep in a garage with arguments like “ Of course, I’ll be back... when I get the means for new parts”
Armen Mkhitaryan, the current owner of this Willys, got completely dumbfounded, when he first saw the SUV. Without a frame, chassis, engine and gearbox, interior parts and many other things, this Willys could be identified only by an expert of American SUVs.
To be continued...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The W123 from “Perestroika” (Part 3)

The next registration stage at the national traffic police was in July 1997. This time the car received license plates of modern pattern (65 SL 078), after which the car hit the trail once again. In 2001 the car changed its owner. In fact, it started to “dwell” in the city center, on Baghramyan Avenue. The new owner thoroughly prepared himself for the purchase of this car. It is said that the trade negotiations lasted over a year. The new owner was so much fond of this car that he spent several months trying to persuade the former owner to yield the car to him at any cost.

The new owner used the car quite actively, so he often got into various minor traffic accidents. Over time, the Oglukyans, the family who owned the car, bought another W123 as a donor, in order to keep the old one in original condition. Currently the car is additionally equipped for the usage of compressed natural gas, as well as it has an alarm and central locking system.
The owner plans to make full restoration of the car, which is bound to be next year.

The W123 from “Perestroika” (Part 2)

Exactly in those years, this Mercedes-Benz W123 was brought to Armenia. This car of 1981 ended up in Yerevan in 1988. Its first owner Khachik Harutyunyan, who had a highly significant and authoritative position in society, had himself brought the car from Germany. Thanks to his entrepreneurial activities in his native district of Ajapnyak , Harutyunyan managed to amass a decent fortune, which allowed him to acquire a luxurious Mercedes for those days.

The vehicle with the chassis identification number WDB12309612108341 was first registered at the local branch of the traffic police in March 1988, when it got plates of the Soviet model.  Over the next few years, the car was kept only in garage conditions and was maintained with parts brought from Germany.
To be continued...

The W123 from “Perestroika” (Part 1)

Mercedes-Benz has always been one of the most (if not the most) favorite car brands among Caucasians. After the Great Patriotic War, it used to be considered as the most notable and revered trophy vehicle for the Soviet man.  This German brand has always been distinguished for its luxurious equipment, instantly recognizable appearance, high assembly quality, advanced technology and many others. 

It was no wonder that after the announcement of the so-called perestroika in USSR, when people were finally allowed to freely bring cars of foreign production, the demand for the Mercedes was unprecedentedly high. A relatively new Mercedes was even able to equalize the statuses of an ordinary citizen and official or “big boss”.
To be continued...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Dutch House on Wheels

In recent years, our little country has been attracting lots of people from all over the world. More and more tourists are including Armenia in their itineraries. I recently wrote about a couple from the Netherlands, who made an unbelievably long way on their Toyota Hilux driving through the entire territory of Armenia and making detailed reports on their impressions in their personal blog.

This time I had a chance to meet another wonderful Dutch crew. Very modest in appearance, but strong and resolute, the guys arrived at the Toyota Center in Yerevan on a military Toyota Land Cruiser 80. Armenia was lying on their way between Turkey, Georgia and Iran. In spite of the release data (1996), the car was in an ideal condition and only needed timely maintenance, which was going to be provided by our specialists.

Now let’s figure out what car it is, and why our guests chose exactly this vehicle to travel around the world.
As it turned out, the car underwent a complete restoration last year. It was transformed from a usual SUV into a “motorhome”. The original 1HZ 4.2 L diesel engine was replaced with a new one, which had a turbocharger and a massive intercooler. The car is fitted with enhanced professional Tough Dog off-road suspension with thick absorbers and deeply modified units- with their huge potential, they are specially designed for long trips on rough terrain.

At the rear, the car has a rigid axle with a self-locking differential. At the front, there is the solid Aisin axle, which has a manual locking option. The car was modified in the “Tom's Fahrzeugtechnik” workshop, known for its serious modifications of Toyota Land Cruisers since 2001.
The body was fundamentally remade. Now it has a 4-door layout with an extra camper on the chassis. This Land Cruiser is equipped with two water tanks and autonomous power supply system, which is charged from the solar panels installed on the roof.

The interior of the car offers all the possible facilities for comfortable accommodation for at least two people. The quality and work performed on this car deserves emulation for its class. It is perfectly adapted to conquer impassable areas delivering maximum impressions to its passengers.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Mysterious American

Almost all of my classic car finds have a unique backstory- this one is not an exception. It all started with an ordinary phone call. A friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen for ages, phoned me early in the morning. We started to chat about our own affairs. Having learnt about my passion for classic cars, my interlocutor shared a quite interesting memory from his youth with me.
Situated fifty kilometers away from our city, there was a popular ski resort, which my friend used to visit with his family since childhood. Before reaching the spa town, on the main road there was a car workshop, next to which there was an ownerless car, which had been unattended for years. The neglected American coupe from the beginning of the 70’s was obviously rusting through in open air. Unfortunately, my friend couldn’t make out the brand of the car. All he remembered was that year by year the car became more and more dismantled and the only remaining identification sign was the license plate. In the early 2000’s the car disappeared from the spot at all.

The whole thing seemed to me quite thrilling and I decided to arrange an investigation, in order to find the owner or something, which will provide a clue as to the whereabouts and destiny of the car. Although, after such a huge amount of time, there remained very little chance for any positive result, I took up the challenge all the same.
Firstly, I had to find the workshop, which was a very easy task, since it was the only place for car repair in the district. I met the guys who appeared to have “settled” there quite recently, therefore they never heard of the mysterious American coupe. Lots of effort had gone, before I got the first clue. Indeed, the car had stood idle exactly there for many years, after which, one day, its body was taken by the local junk collector, in order to be used as a fence material. After a while, I was able to admire the remains of the mysterious car, which was disconsolately decaying, along with other bodies with the same fate. Here found its final resting place the car I was looking for. Judging by the license plate, it was an Oldsmobile of 1973 release, but, most probably, the date was entered incorrectly during the registration.
It is extremely difficult to understand exactly what car it is. The body bears obvious marks of a master’s intervention, who changed the shape of the front, probably due to the absence of the original windscreen. The car unfortunately has no identification signs. All the mechanical parts, as well as the trunk and the hood, have gone missing. Most likely, this car will never be restored to its former beauty. However, there is a slight chance that this post will be read by an anonymous enthusiast, who will consider as a matter of honor to restore this vehicle.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Stellar Mercedes

Last summer was unusually hot. Actually, the year was full of various natural anomalies and started with the fact that we had no snow on New Year’s Day.
Strange and rich in all sorts of surprises, the year started to bore me towards the end of the summer, therefore I decided to arrange a well-earned little vacation. So, in late August, I went to neighboring Georgia. My way to the southwest of the country, in an area called Adjara, lay through Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Within a few days, I had to be able to visit several parts of the region, and of course, Batumi, the most popular resort city in Georgia. Rest is important of course, but as a true vintage car lover, I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to find some classic car, or, at least, to reveal an interesting story about a retro vehicle. In Batumi, I spent only 3 days, the first two of which I was unable to find anything interesting, except this governmental GAZ-14 Chaika.

But finally, fortune smiled on me. I couldn’t even understand how I found myself in that dead street, which was closed from all sides. My attention was immediately caught by a black sedan surrounded with modern vehicles. Coming closer, I discovered that it was a Mercedes-Benz 230 S the W111 body. These cars were produced from 1965 to 1968 and there were 40.766 copies released. The condition of the car, let’s say, was not perfect. The body bore many marks of rust and was covered with lots of dents. Plus to all, the rear right window was missing.

 Nevertheless, I was burning in curiosity to find out, to whom the car belonged. My search didn’t last long and after a few minutes, I was nicely conversing with the owner in front of the car. George Romanovsky, as he introduced himself, had permanently moved to Moscow quite recently and visited his homeland only occasionally. He used to be the most prominent representative of Jewish community in Georgia, but what interested me most was his hobby of collecting cars.

According to him, his collection embraced literally all the models of executive limousines produced in the USSR, from ZIS-101 to GAZ-14. All those cars were in Moscow, so there remained nothing, but to trust his word. Then we started to talk about the Mercedes and Mr. Romanovsky told me another unsupported story, according to which the first owner of the car, in 1965, was the famous French actor Jean Mare. In the early 70’s, the possession of the car took none other than Charles Aznavour. After that, in the 80’s, Aznavour personally gave the car to the famous Armenian actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan.

The stellar biography of this Mercedes ends in 1991, when the last owner bought it from Frunzik Mkrtchyan and brought it to Georgia, where it currently is. The story of this car, of course, doesn’t purport to be a historical chronicle, since it is based only on the words of one of its “characters”.
However, the fact that this car has survived and is in complete factory condition deserves our attention.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Car as a Piece of Art

How often do you see monuments to the car? Admittedly, it’s not a common cultural phenomena. Cars do present in some sculptural complexes. They are not given much importance, though. Only the fact that this engineering masterpiece has been in the world’s attention for over a hundred years, makes it worth being immortalized, doesn’t it?

Caucasian people have always been famous for their special love for technology, particularly for cars. Keeping in mind this fact, any resident of the Armenian capital will be proud to confirm that the national love for expensive classic and fast cars is embodied in one of the museums in the heart of Yerevan, in the form of a real car. Now attention: all motorists who plan to ever visit Armenia, I highly recommend to visit the Cafesjian Center for the Arts situated in the Cascade complex in Yerevan. From architectural and aesthetic points of view, this is an amazingly atmospheric place. Among many unusual exhibits and all kinds of art installations spread over this huge complex, there is an absolutely unique piece of art, a Subaru SVX. Any visitor can enjoy it for free. This Subaru was first exhibited in the summer of 2010 and is still in the public domain, along with the masterpieces of Andy Warhol, Marc Chagall and Grigor Khanjian. According to the helpful museum guides, this 1993 Subaru, the design of which was created by the famous Italian studio Italdesign, belongs to the personal collection of the renowned collector Gerard Cafesjian. Moreover, this car was his very first personal vehicle.

Initially, the entire car (except the front and rear lights) was re-painted in a silver matte color. However, it was eventually decided to cover the body with a mirror-like skin. Exactly in this form this car is presently exhibited.

Remarkably, among various interesting exhibits, there is another car, a beautifully restored Ford Model N Runabout of 1906, also from Cafesjian’s personal collection.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Burial & Resurrection: Toyota Crown Custom (Part 4)

Today I will continue the story about the unique custom project involving a Toyota Crown MS 106. About how and under what circumstances this car was found, as well as what restoration works took place, I have already written in previous posts.

The time has come to tell you about the modifications made in the electronic systems. It is worth mentioning that Toyota Crown, permanently being at the top of the hierarchical chain of the entire range of Toyota, has always been distinguished for its high level of equipment, being inferior, in status, only to the executive limousine Toyota Century. This fact naturally led to a high level of equipment of the Crown. The hardtop models of Toyota Crown in all available packages were equipped with central locking system, power windows and side-view mirrors, electric trunk opener and radio receiver with tape player that could be controlled from rear seats. Some instances under the name “Royal Saloon” were additionally equipped with an electric sunroof, air conditioning with electronic climate control, trip computer, cruise control system and even power rear seats.
All of the above mentioned options, except the sunroof, are present in this custom Crown. I hope you still remember that this very model was released in 1974 and all of these options came out with serial production of the Crown in 1974. You might ask, “what else could be added to this wide list of options?”
However, for a modern user, a car is not just a means of transportation, but a place where a large amount of time is spent, and that time must be spent with maximal comfort. For this reason, the car received a modern multimedia system with touch screen on the central console, by means of which the driver and passenger can access the Bluetooth and media files of all possible formats. Rear passengers can enjoy a privilege of using a separate multimedia system, which can read files in Blu-ray format. There are also “Mark Levinson” high quality speakers and wireless headphones for rear passengers.

The car has a modern anti-theft alarm system with a smart key and engine start button.
With the purpose of practicality, the original headlight units were replaced with more modern and replaceable light bulbs, after which they were installed with automatically controlled BiXenon projectors. The automatic control of wipers is activated by means of rain sensors.
For extra comfort, the driver’s seat got embedded with electric engines allowing it to move in two directions. All seats have a heating function.
Quite an interesting solution was given to side view mirrors. As you can see, they are totally absent. But this does not mean that the driver is destitute of side visibility. For this purpose, the car is equipped with additional displays and 2 tiny cameras on both sides, which provide the driver 4 times bigger view than the conventional mirrors. However this is not enough for perimetric visibility, and of course, there is also an additional rear view camera cleverly disguised under the trunk lock.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Burial & Resurrection: Toyota Crown Custom (Part 3)

The body fixation cushion sleeves, which are the most vulnerable parts of the chassis and exposed to corrosion over time, are also made of high-strength stainless steel of A3 and A 5 makes. Stainless steel was also used in producing the short racks of front and back stabilizers. The exhaust system (pipes, resonator as well as the main tank) is also fully made of stainless steel. The bottom and crankcase shields are made of stainless steel sheets. In fact, the bottom is constantly under the aggressive effect of environment and the engine shield is located directly under the radiator. This increases the risk of contact with the cooling fluid, which, in turn, leads to premature corrosion.

One more nuance which increases the durability of the body and the life of the car on the whole. I am talking about the sills, which, sooner or later, under the effect of various factors rot away completely, only if your car is not a De Lorean, of course. Flowing down through all the drainpipes, the whole water collects right in the sills. For drainage, the lower parts of the sills has special openings, which quite often clog up not allowing the water to naturally drain out of the car. This leads to inevitable corrosion. To resolve this issue, (as you’ve already guessed) the sills are also made of stainless steel. The decayed parts from the lower body side were removed and replaced with 100 mm stainless steel pipes, which had already received a series of drainage holes with larger diameters. In addition to the anti-corrosive effect, this modification gave the body additional stiffness.
As for the underbody, at first, it was processed with “Nippon” anti-corrosion primer, after which it was applied with additional prime paint. In the final stage, the bottom was painted in body color and on top of this paint, masters applied the traditional bituminous anti-corrosive layer.
Next time, I will try to tell about the electronic know-how applied in this car.
To be continued...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Burial & Resurrection: Toyota Crown Custom (Part 2)

Today I’d like to continue the story about the custom-project on the basis of automobile Toyota Crown of the 5th generation. You might have already learnt from the previous article that the car, which had been buried and strewn with bricks, was found quite by chance in 2009.
Having spent so many years in an adverse environment, part of the frame and chassis almost completely rotted away. All these elements had to be restored from zero.

To ensure maximal correspondence between the custom and original versions, one more Toyota Crown of a later generation was purchased, after which the old body received a more modern chassis. Also, at the wish of the new owner, the masters slightly changed the profile of the car, by lowering the roof and removing all the plastic and chrome-plated moldings from around the perimeter of the body. During the whole restoration period, both in technical and electronic aspect, this car underwent a very large number of various custom operations, about which I might go into details next time.
It took about five years, since the very beginning of the restoration works until the day, when the owner was able to drive this car to one of the local tuning shows. Being under constant modifications, this car is considered as an unfinished project. However, Id like to tell you a bit about some technical improvements that changed this car fundamentally.

One of the essential solutions when building this car was the extensive use of stainless steel in the structure. Such practice is not supported by the world’s automakers, since it increases the final cost of the product. In this case, focusing on the durability of his car, the owner never posed any financial limitations, however. Thus, absolutely every screwed element of the body and chassis (bolts, nuts, washers, plugs, etc.) is made of high-strength stainless steel of A3 and A 5 makes. The bolts and nuts had to be custom-made, so as not to change the metric data and thread standards of the manufacturer.
To be continued...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Burial & Resurrection: Toyota Crown Custom (Part 1)

When I first saw this car, I couldn’t identify it for quite a while. Judging by the appearance, it was a model of the late 1970’s, which had a logo seemingly belonging to Lexus. As far as I know, this company started the production of cars in 1989. Even the internet couldn’t help me with the identification of this strange vehicle, and there remained no choice but to find the owner. I managed to find him through social networks and was finally told the story of this car.
In reality, It appeared to be a custom-version of the model called Toyota Crown, which is the oldest model of Toyota and was intended only for the domestic marked of Japan.

It took 5 years to build this car. A Toyota Crown MS 106 of the 1979 production was chosen as a donor car to fulfill this unique project. This car has an interesting story. It is said that, in the 1980’s, it was owned by one of the most influential and well-known criminal bosses in the USSR. According to the legend, he received this car as a gift from representatives of the criminal world of Russian Far East. For many years, this respectable hardtop sedan served its respected owner travelling across Armenia without any registration and license plates, because in those times such cars could be counted on the fingers of one hand and all the police knew their owners preferring to stay away from them. Such a state of affairs was undoubtedly in the owner’s favor, who, taking advantage of his “authoritative” influence, unrelentingly led a lawless lifestyle, by the end of which he acquired countless enemies.
One day, arriving home, he parked the car in the yard, got home and died of heart attack shortly thereafter. In panic, the family started to hide all his illegally acquired property: gold, jewels, weapons, etc.
Late at night, it came to the strikingly elegant car. The relatives couldn’t invent anything smarter but to bury the car right in the yard. In haste, the Toyota Crown was partially buried. The upper part was simply covered with bricks. As a result, it turned out an imitation of a small hangar, which kept the car away from the eyes of subsequent foes.

Over the years, the car got completely forgotten. Many of the participants of all those troubled events must have already gone to the next world.
In 2009, the current owner discovered the car quite by chance and immediately decided to buy it. It took a few days to remove the Toyota from the ground. The car was finally towed into a dry and warm garage, where the process of resurrection began.
To be continued...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Very Special GAZ 13C

When coming across a rare car, of which there are only a dozen left throughout the world, particularly, if we are talking about a soviet limousine, about which the entire male population of the USSR could not even dream, you start to experience a weird feeling.
The GAZ 13 Chaika was produced by Gorky Automobile Plant between 1959 and 1981. During that period there were released 3.200 units of various modifications, among which 15 convertibles with an index GAZ 13B and 20 ambulances with an index GAZ 13C. 
Today we know about, at least, 12 survived models of the medical modification, one of which will be introduced in this article.

Originally, this extremely rare modification of Chaika was designed to satisfy the needs of senior party officials that ruled the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Only very rarely, these cars could be seen in governmental motorcades. Interestingly, this modification was built by hand at the RAF factory in Latvia. The Latvian factory was supplied with ready chassis and engines from Nizhny Novgorod, after which the workers manually produced the body and made the final assemblies of the car. Since all Chaikas of medical modification were assembled by hand, they all differ from each other in terms of equipment and facilities in medical compartments. But, of course, there are also some common features, for example, they were all painted in black color and the windows of the passenger compartment, in contrast to regular ambulances, were not covered with white-opaque color, instead, they were equipped with dark curtains that could be tightly closed. Externally, these vehicles had no identification marks and could not be differentiated from one another.

Produced in 1973, this Chaika (chassis No. 002327 and body No. 002415U) is one of the first exemplars of this type. Initially, it was intended for the 4th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Health of the USSR and, at first, was used in Moscow. Later, in the early 1980’s, in the Central Committee of the Armenian SSR there arose a need for such a car. By that time, the production of GAZ 13 had already been discontinued and on May 19, 1983, this car arrived in Yerevan. In the next 11 years, this Chaika had its special medical staff and served nearly all secretaries of the Communist party of Armenia, including Karen Demirchyan, who was especially keen on this unique vehicle. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this Chaika did not remain in “retirement” for long and very soon, in 1994, it was legally obtained by a doctor named Vardan Janoyan.
At that time, the mileage of this car was about 10.000 kilometers. Fortunately, I managed to get to know the owner long ago, back in the 2000’s. At that time, the car had an amazing preservation. The body had never been repaired, nor had it been re-painted. The original paint shone like new.
After the acquisition, the owner almost has not driven the car. The mileage has not exceeded 12.500 kilometers so far.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Avetik Pandeyan the restorer

Another talented restorer is Avetik Pandeyan, who is known for his passion for European classic cars, particularly for those from the early 1930’s. Pandeyan’s collection includes real jewels of the German pre-war automotive industry.
 This master started his career in the 1970’s with restorations of trophy cars and motorcycles, the most prominent of which was the BMW 327 depicted in the photo with its new and happy owner from Europe.

 The next project was personal and planned to be implemented in the mid 1990’s. Back in 1984, Mr. Avetik managed to get a trophy convertible BMW 320 of 1938 production. After the war, the car was brought to Rostov, where it was used by an officer’s family. After some time, the car was in Shushi, a city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where, after many years, it was found fallen into decay. The restoration works on this car started in 1995. The body of the convertible was in critical condition. The doors, front wings and side steps had to be newly made in accordance with original drawings. The aluminum side panel of the hood with its tilt control mechanism and ventilation hole patterns, as well as the gills of the radiator grille, which has always been considered as the trademark of the BMW, had also to be reconstructed from scratch.
It should be mentioned that despite the pitiable state of the body, the original components were almost in an excellent state of preservation. In technical aspect, the car virtually remained 100% original, including the engine, manual transmission, drivetrain, front and rare suspension. Now, add to all this a lovingly restored interior and we have a perfect classic BMW, the owner of which will be looked at with envy.
The restoration works of this car, with some pauses and delays, lasted about 15 years.

Presently, Pandeyan is engaged in restoration of another pre-war German trophy convertible. This time this is an Audi produced in 1934. This model Mr. Avetik acquired in the territory of the former Soviet Union, but he refused to go into details about the exact country. The restoration project, which started 16 years ago, now is nearing to completion. The works on the body and its wooden structure is already completed.

The master complains that it takes quite a long time to find the original missing parts of the interior. Similar to the BMW 320, this instance also pleases with its completeness. All the elements of the technical part were produced more than 80 years ago and belong to Auto Union AG, the immediate predecessor of today’s Audi.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Master of Many Talents

Continuing the theme of famous Armenian car restorers, it would be inappropriate not to remember one of the highly revered figures among the local car enthusiasts. Everyone who has ever been interested in classic cars, has met or, at least, heard of the famous restorer Zhora Petrosyan.

Zhora is a truly versatile personality. After graduating the Terlemezyan Art School, he, for 22 years, worked as a sculpture teacher at the Abovyan Shool of Art. In the mid 70’s he became addicted to repairing classic cars, and starting from 1982, he got completely immersed in this craft as a professional. It should be mentioned that, only quite recently, Petrosyan discovered his gift for poetry. Well, the talents of a true man of art manifest themselves in everything.

This master has always preferred to deal with cars of European origin, particularly those from the beginning of the 20 century. The cars restored by Mr. Petrosyan were filmed for many soviet movies, that is why they are so well known to not only car connoisseurs, but also to the general public.
I also would like to mention that this master has a serious hobby, for which he has very little time- he is able to create a car with his hands.

Unfortunately, he has developed only two examples so far. The first one is a mini car made in the style of 1920’s. The author named it “Titernik”, which, translated from Armenian, means a butterfly. The improvised radiator grille flaunts a handmade logo in the form of a butterfly. The car has rather tiny dimensions- the interior can accommodate no more than 2 people. It is no wonder that the basic design of the car mainly consists of parts of soviet production: the engine, gearbox and electrics are taken from the VAZ-2101; there are also motorcycle parts widely used in the design of the exterior. The car is still kept in the personal collection of the master.

As for the second car, the author sold it long ago. It was a convertible strongly reminiscent of the Morgan Plus. There is an action story about a trip on this car across the country to an exhibition in Moscow. There were only 2 days before the exhibition opening at VDNKh (permanent general purpose trade show and amusement park in Moscow¬¬¬), so the choice was made for the shortest route, through Gazakh (a town in Azerbaijan).

It was the spring of 1989, so the trip to Moscow started with an armed chase, from which the “Morgan” managed to safely escape. In hot pursuit, Zhora was able to accelerate the car up to 180 km/h!!!
Having reached the final destination without a single damage, the car stood at the exhibition for six months, after which it was taken back to the native village of the master, Balahovit.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Onik the Master

Caucasia has always been famous for its talented craftsmen and inventors. Every town and village, every district and almost every street had a tinsmith who was able to do magic with shapeless pieces of tin. Armenia, where manual work has always been appreciated and used to be handed down from father to son, has also been rich with such virtuoso artisans. By adding the boundless love of Armenians for technology, especially cars, to the above mentioned, we might get quite an interesting result.

Many of the car restorers started their “creative career” as ordinary tinsmiths. On occasions, they had opportunity to mend jalopies and, thus, they gradually turned from tinkers into skillful restorers. The history of Armenian car restorers goes back many years, and, probably, it is impossible to find out who first restored a classic car in our country.

However, it would be at least improper not to mention one of the oldest, unfortunately now deceased, Armenian restorers. Onik Terterian started his first restoration of a classic car in 1968. The master had to revive some remains of a Mercedes-Benz (or to be more precise, remains of the body).

Terteryan did a great job- from scratch, by using only a few available photos, he managed to create new front fondles, side-frames of the hood, footsteps, a bumper and radiator grille as well as other missing elements of the exterior. The interior was also restored from nothing. The enthusiastic restorer even managed to get the original paint of the German manufacturer from the pre-war period.
However, along with all the pluses, it is impossible not to notice some obvious downsides. For instance, for all soviet restorers, it was a routine occurrence to equip foreign cars with parts of the “iconic” GAZ-21 Volga. That Mercedes was not an exception. But let’s not talk about sad things. Once the car was ready, it was taken to the Russian city of Sochi.
After his first work, the master became quite popular and started to receive numerous orders, mainly from abroad. After many years spent on restorations of various vehicles, Terteryan finally got his own retro car. In 1995, he acquired a VW Beetle of 1970 production. Initially, it was a completely dismantled blue Beetle. After lengthy restoration works, the car received a burning yellow color and gained a perfect technical condition.

During his lifetime, Onik Terteryan with his Beetle often participated in many retro-festivals always standing out among all participants due the bright color of his car.