Saturday, January 30, 2016

Regret (or a sad story about a VW Type 3)

Our today’s story is about the first and only Volkswagen Type 3 in Armenia. This car can often be found both in Europe and in the USA, where it was delivered throughout all the twelve years of its production from the factory in Wolfsburg. From the period 1961-1973 the Volkswagen group released over two and a half million copies of this model with different body types and various configurations. It is worth noting that the “Typ-3”, which had a rather nondescript design and based on the components of the popular VW Beetle, has not left an appreciable trace in the history of the global automobile industry. Nevertheless, this model has lots of fans all over the world and it is appreciated by admirers of classic Volkswagen models.

By a stroke of good fortune, one of the 1.339.124 cars that had a fastback body found itself in Armenia. Unfortunately, we have not yet found the person who brought this car to Yerevan.
We first met this car in very strange circumstances: in the summer of 2014, from Ukraine, a member of the local retro-car community came to Armenia in order to find a certain car. Having found the car, we decided to spend the rest of the time with our Ukrainian guest at one of the graveyards for cars, because sometimes there can be found very interesting examples of rare cars. Among many crumpled and rusted remains, we noticed an unusual body shape- we could not immediately identify which brand it belonged to. Judging by the shape, it was clear that the car was of European origin and was made in the 1960s or 1970s. At the time, it was impossible to learn more about the car from the extant remains of the exterior. Then we left the junkyard with some anxiety, since we were aware that with time all bodies are to be gone under a multi-tone pressing machine.

Two years later, I happened to be at one of my friend’s place, where there were many retro car hunters. We started to talk about who and where had noticed abandoned rare and interesting classic cars. In conversation one of the guests mentioned about a golden fastback Volkswagen 1600 also known as Type-3. The car had been unattended for a long time in the backyard of a car workshop. As it turned out, during a relocation of that workshop, due to uselessness, the remaining property had to be consigned to the junkyard, where we saw it. We compared the photos we had, and only then we managed to identify the car, which we had not been able two years ago. It was the Volkswagen 1600 Fastback (Type-3), produced from 1965 to 1969. We immediately left for that junkyard to save the precious remains of the VW, but when we arrived, a terrible disappointment was awaiting us there…
The car had already been recycled- not a single detail was left of it- only miraculously preserved photos can remind us of it.
It is very sad that this car, which is a rarity in our little country, faced such a grim fate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The First Caucasian Homemade Vehicle (Part 3)

In unfamiliar town parts unequipped for such a parking method, Arshak was using another trick- he was blocking the fuel flow, which was also stalling the engine.
On a flat road, the car was able to accelerate up to 21-22 km/h. The fuel capacity was enough for a few hours. The growing entrepreneurial activity of “Avdo” was not very much pleasant for those whose only source of income was the transportation of passengers. They eventually ran out of patience, when a few months after the successful business launch there started to circulate some rumors that “Avdo” was going to build another car for one of his relatives. There was ripening a family business and then the coachmen decided to annoy their rival. One day, after “Avdo” left for another trip, they simply removed the stone-brake from the square. After a few hours, “Avdo” as always was alerting citizens to his arrival through loud sounds of klaxon. And then a complete surprise- the block which had to serve as a break system had vanished. The “surprise” was so unexpected, that the driver simply did not have time to orient himself, and chaotically spinning the wheel, he eventually crashed into a house near the parking space. There is no mention whose house it was (or to be more exact, to what officer the house belonged). We only know that he had to face a severe punishment. After the arrest, he was sent to prison for a long time, after which there is no information on the fate of the tragic taxi-driver and failed inventor.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The First Caucasian Homemade Vehicle (Part 2)

The car got its final form in the spring of 1913, when “Avdo” dared to take the first run of his brainchild. The inventor was so much impressed with the ride on the horseless carriage, the roars and rumblings of which could be heard miles away, that he decided to use it for commercial purposes. For a fee, he was eager to transport passengers and goods. As a matter of fact, this vehicle was the first Armenian taxi.
On certain days of the week, mainly in the mornings, the main square of the town was crowded with curious onlookers, who was gathering to not only watch this technological miracle but also push it at the owner’s command, so the engine could start.
By the way, the first Armenian homemade car had two major design flaws, one of which turned to be fatal for its owner. The car did not have a mechanical engine start system (in those days there were not any electric starters at all- cars had to be started by using the so-called magneto or special handles). That is why all gathered and pushed the car.
The second problem was that the car had no brakes!  Now you might be wondering how this car could be stopped then. The answer is so simple- Arshak had put a big cobblestone at the main square of the town, so whenever he was returning from a regular trip, the car was colliding with the granite block and the engine was stalling.
To be continued...