Tuesday, December 19, 2017

GAZ-21 Volga (Part 2)

This year alone, the world saw two amazing Volgas, and imagine our surprise, when we accidently, with an interval of a few months, revealed that both of the vehicles were the fruits of creativity of Avetis Martirosyan, a wonderful and modest car restorer.

He devoted all his life exclusively to the craft of restoration of one single model, the GAZ-21. Born in a poor family, which couldn’t afford their own car, master Martirosyan could only dream of a Volga when a child. After receiving a technical education, he became a humble master with unlimited possibilities. Plenty of Volgas from his workshop are currently travelling the world. Two of his most recent works are particularly striking with their impeccable execution and historical thoroughness.

The turquoise GAZ-21R precisely parallels the exterior of this model completely matching the body hue. The restoration of this exemplar lasted over a year—the results could be seen already in the beginning of this year. Avetis Martirosyan is preparing another bomb, the export version of the GAZ-21, which is likely to be ready by this summer. In Soviet times, only the most technically sophisticated products of highest quality were allowed to be considered as exportable. That is why the export version has so many chrome-plated details and extra moldings. The restoration of this exemplar released in 1968 is simply perfect.

There are only a few historical inconsistencies, among which are the additional brake vacuum taken from the later model GAZ-24, modern relay voltage regulator and, of course, the color—a civil Volga would never have been painted black! Otherwise, it’s a unique vehicle in perfect condition with mileage of 17.000 kilometers. Let’s wish the master new works and deserved buyers.

Friday, December 1, 2017

GAZ-21 Volga (Part 1)

The car GAZ-21 represents a whole epoch in the history of all republics of the USSR. It was indeed the first mass Soviet car that could be acquired in the store for quite a reasonable amount. Over the years of production (that period lasted from 1956 to 1970), the Gorky automobile plant released many versions of this middle-class vehicle with different body types.

 Each variety of the GAZ-21 had a specific indexing that could be used to determine the configuration, approximate year of production and the region, for which the car was released. Thanks to the preserved reference books, we revealed 55 different versions of this model. Externally, the first Volga underwent the so-called restyling 3 times, which significantly changed the exterior elements: the optics, bumpers and radiator grille. The most popular version, however, became the car of the last, third, series, manufactured in the plant in the years 1962-1970. Actually, these cars constituted the main part of the taxi fleets of the whole country. That is why the Volga of the third series is of no collectible value to car collectors, although it is a living representative of the car-classics of the 60-ies.

Due to simplicity and phenomenal maintainability, the GAZ-21 Volga is still common on our roads. But as a rule, they are rather miserable in appearance, since they are mercilessly exploited by their owners, primarily for agricultural purposes. There are surprising exceptions, however. Very rarely, we come across some decent instances, which are restored with enviable zest and meticulousness.
To be continued…

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lexus LX470 (Part 2)

According to some experts, it was a usual fake and the car was nothing but an ordinary Lexus LX470 with changed logos. Other motorists persistently emphasized the affiliation of the car to the German tuning company, pointing out the professional styling of this instance. For example, this car is equipped with unique arch extenders, which cannot be found on other instances of this make. The factory chrome parts and moldings are completely absent from the interior, and the image of a sport off-roader accomplish the 19-inch Brabus wheels.

 The fully custom-made saloon is sewn in the style of individual interiors of the G-class by Brabus, whose logos can be seen everywhere in the car. Another version says that the car was assembled in Europe on the individual order of one Armenian oligarch. As for the technical stuffing, we have different data; someone claimed that there was a supercharged 4.7L V8 engine under the hood, another one even saw an additional turbine installed on this engine. Presently, it’s difficult to establish the truth about exactly what engine the car was initially installed with. However, so many years after its appearance in the city, this Lexus was recently first brought to the local dealer, where the masters discovered a completely new Lexus engine, the 5.7L 3UR-FE engine with the TRD supercharger. According to the last owner, he brought this car already with the new engine and its auxiliary equipment. I also learnt that Brabus GmbH has no entry about this car. It might have been tuned by a private company, which, unfortunately, cannot be ascertained.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lexus LX470 (Part 1)

This time I decided to tell you about a car the identification of which I still cannot make out.
May be my subscribers will be able to help me?
At the beginning of 2000’s, in Armenia, the use of Japanese cars began to spread quite rapidly. Among the variety of all those Japanese makes, the undisputed leader in sales, both on so-called primary (in those times there was no official dealers in the country) and secondary markets, was Toyota Motors Co. 

Based on local road conditions, the quality of soil covering and other geographical specifics, the demand of such vehicles as the Toyota Land Cruiser 80, 100, or Land cruiser Prado 120 was particularly high. Quite often, one could see the premium version of the above mentioned models, the Lexus GX470 and more luxurious LX470.  The latter, together with unprecedented off-road capabilities, in standard version, was offered with a wide range of support functions. However, there was one single black Lexus LX470, which was obviously standing out against the background of all those vehicles throughout the city. At first glance, nothing special about it, but a closer look reveals the nameplates of the company Brabus. The car was brought to Yerevan in 2002, and along with its appearance, there came many theories about the origins of this mysterious black beast. It is known that the Brabus aftermarket tuning company has long been specializing in Mercedes-Benz (also later in Smart, Maybach and Tesla) vehicles and there couldn’t have been any connection between the Lexus and Brabus.
To be continued...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Pedal Car ‘Moskvich’ (Part 2)

The masters had to cope with difficult tasks. It was necessary to restore the geometry of the body, straighten all the bumps and get rid of a large amount of rust.
The total absence of front and rear suspension components made the restoration even more difficult. The car was completely disassembled, after which the project had to be frozen, since another pedal car of the same type as a donor was needed. Time went by, but the donor car could not be found.

Finally, in the winter of 2015-2016, the restoration works on the pedal Moskvitch resumed. At first, the masters rebuilt the mechanical part consisting of pedal units and driving mechanism with an improvised rear axle. The wheels were also fixed up. Quite an original design solution was the use of an integrated hand-made frame that gave a certain rigidity to the body and a base for fixing the rear suspension. The masters managed, from scratch, to create a fully functioning rear suspension with coil springs. The fixation of the front wheels with the “hubs” was impossible before the restoration, since one side of the body was damaged. The new parts, like a specular reflection of the other side, were made of galvanized sheet metal.

Once the car was put back on the wheels, the masters got down to the body correction. It must be noted that those restoration works took as much time as those of a real retro vehicle. After numerous welding works, the body was sent to a painting department. Several layers of putty for various purposes alternated with the use of various prime paint layers, which was supposed to provide the best filling of the defective areas. The custom-made steering wheel is fixed to a new polished stainless rod.
The project is still at the assembly stage. I will definitely return to this pedal car upon the completion of the restoration.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Pedal Car ‘Moskvich’ (Part 1)

Every Soviet preschool boy dreamt of having their own pedal car. In the USSR, according to different sources, the children’s cars were in production since 1920’s, but this toy gained serious mass popularity starting from 1960’s, when the production of children’s vehicles was set up at the automobile plant AZLK.  Among the all variety of pedal cars produced at different factories, the most popular one is considered to be Moskvitch.

The production of the second generation of this car started in 1973 and ceased only in 1994. It is believed that the number of the produced pedal Moskvitch cars was no less than that of its “big brother”, which contributed to the fact that these cars could be seen in all yards of soviet cities.  Over time, many pedal Moskvitchs became nothing but warm childhood memories. These toys became obsolete and fell apart because of poor quality of thin steel sheet, of which they had been made. Many people started to get rid of the 13-kilogramme toys, since they took up too much space in their flats. This pedal car was not an exception and was doomed to scrapheap.

There are two big questions for me: how one could dare to purchase it for the purpose of restoration and how it was possible to restore it, when not a single element was able to function in it. However, as the pictures show, all these took place in reality. The start of the second life of this pedal car can be considered the second of November 2014. On that day, a lucky man became the owner of the Moskvitch and brought it to the restoration workshop, where at that time the specialists were engaged only in restoring real retro-cars.
To be continued...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Volga GAZ-21 (Part 2)

Predictably, very soon, one of the particularly well-preserved cars of the taxi fleet was assigned to the family of the head of the taxi company. It was basically used as the official car for the father of the family; the rest of the time it was used by his son.

Then, there came the time for generation change, namely, the era of the new Volga GAZ-24. After 12 years of service, it was acquired by one of the repairers of the maintenance shop at the same taxi company. The dexterous mechanic quickly restored the crumbling Volga and decided to modify it for the use in his work. Since 1973, this Volga was used as a recovery and tow vehicle for faulty cabs. With years, the bright color of this car became quite recognizable; more and more motorists became interested in its services. Its bright color the car received during the transformation into a recovery vehicle.
Gavryusha Arakelyan, the owner of the car, still actively uses it as intended. Today, from a collectable point of view, this car is of no interest, since it has some internal inconsistencies with the original Volga of second edition.

The decorative radiator grille, front turn signals, hood, front fenders, both bumpers, taillights and logos- all of these elements were taken from the third edition, which was released in 1963-1970. The third edition can be distinguished through its long strip of drainage molding on the roof. The car has many additional identification markings on all sides. It’s equipped with a unique roof rack of an unknown manufacturer from Germany, specially designed for this model. On the photos the car is in its “element” towing a huge air compressor.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Volga GAZ-21 (Part 1)

Nowadays it’s difficult to imagine the life of a modern motorist without the presence of tow trucks and recovery vehicles on the roads. Breakdown recovery services are ready safely and quickly to bring faulty vehicles to destinations at all hours. It’s probably impossible to ascertain who designed the first specialized vehicle for towing broken cars, but it’s easy to surmise that similar mechanisms probably existed from the late nineteenth century, and emerged a little later than the invention of the car itself.

Tow trucks, as such, were practically non-existent in the USSR. So, when it came to a breakdown, the soviet citizen either had to apply his physical power to push the car, or use a tow and neighbor’s car to get to the nearest workshop. The soviet automotive industry produced not only lots of civilian car models, but also various specialized hardware. Tow trucks and other recovery vehicles, however, were never on serial production. Such vehicles began to appear on the post-soviet territory only in 1990’s. But before that period, in the Soviet Union, there were very few craftsmen, who managed to create unique vehicles for breakdown services.

Presently, the only extant handmade recovery vehicle in Armenia from that period is this GAZ-21 of 1960 production. In those years, this car “tirelessly worked” in special services.
In 1960, the second taxi fleet of the capital got another batch of Volga-M21A cars specially designed for a comfortable ride for urban population. The brand new Volga of second generation was an impressive and respectable car, which provided unprecedentedly comfortable ride in those times. The drivers of other vehicles were simply green with envy, since among the available cars for soviet people the new GAZ-21 was the most expensive and prestigious one.
To be continued...

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Nissan Terrano (Part 2)

The four-wheel drive with a transfer box and rigid axis lock combined with manual transmission and high-torque 2.4 Z24 petrol engine predetermined the application field of this car for long time. After years of service, in April 1998, this vehicle was put up for sale for a nominal sum.

The buyer was Hovhanes Malkhasyan, a local resident, who claimed that, long ago, in grave health condition, he was taken to hospital, to a surgery department, on this very same car. In the new family the car was treated like an equal member. It must be noted that the owner of the Nissan, like most of other inhabitants of the earthquake zone in that period, was destitute of a roof over his head and dwelled in a little cabin on the outskirts of the city hardly affording the bare necessities for existence. Unsurprisingly, the car was kept on the street and had no proper care. After several years of poor upkeep, the car plunged into a deplorable condition.  In 2011, already being in unusable condition, the car was confiscated for depths and passed into possession of a private bank. Fate, however, gave a second chance to this Nissan Terrano. In March of the same year, the car had a new owner, who undertook its restoration. Very soon, it underwent cosmetic repair.

Then all the useless parts were replaced with new ones; it received a completely overhauled mono-injection engine with additionally installed LPG (liquefied petroleum gas)
Presently, this car can be seen in the streets of Yerevan. Its owner is an active member of the society of hunters and inspector in the Ministry of environmental protection.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Nissan Terrano (Part 1)

It’s amazing how touching the story of, at first glance, a most ordinary car can be. Although having been ruthlessly used in harsh conditions from the day of its production, this unremarkable Nissan Terrano still demonstrates incredible endurance.

In 1988, the practically new Nissan was brought from Europe to Armenia. This car, along with some others, were to be engaged in the elimination and subsequent restoration of the ruined city of Leninakan, which was razed to the ground by a devastating earthquake on 7 September 1988. The earthquake embraced an area of population of about 1 million. In that period, in addition to the union republics, 111 other countries rendered assistance of various kinds; both humanitarian and technical. After so many years, it is impossible to ascertain exactly which country sent the car to the disaster zone. Besides conveying the injured to hospitals, the car was also used by foreign medical staff to reach the neighboring towns such as Spitak, which literally went under the ground.

This Nissan had every day to cross difficult terrain in order to get to Spitak and back. After the first stage of the elimination works in Leninakan, the car was sent to Amasia, a village, which is about thirty kilometers away from the district center. What typical for this part of Armenia is that there are severe weather conditions in winters accompanied by abundant snowfalls that make the roads impassable not only for ordinary cars, but also heavy trucks. This cost-saving off-roader, also, proved to be extremely easy in maintenance. 
To be continued...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chevrolet Suburban Silverado (Part 2)

With this purpose, they modified the suspension in order to increase the ground clearance and gave the car a threatening appearance. In the chassis they used modified front and rear springs, and put adjustable shock absorbers. For a comfortable boarding the car received extra footrests produced by CARR. Originally, there were halogen flood lights on the roof, which unfortunately did not survive. However, the most original part in the design of the car are, of course, the wheels themselves.

Manufactured by Interco Tire Corporation and named Super Swamper TSL/BOGGER, these tires are extremely popular among the fans of off-road vehicles. They have unique and inimitable design and are depicted on the logo of the company. These wheels are primarily designed for riding through swamps, although they can be used on any rugged landscape and road surface. The signs of the “off-road adventures” soon became visible on the car with the naked eye.

Then I learnt that in 2004 the car was put up for sale. In the autumn of the same year, it was purchased by a customer from Armenia, to where it was shipped by water. In February 2005, the SUV was registered by the traffic police of the Republic of Armenia. They wrongly identified the car and recorded it as Jeep in the field “Manufacturer”

Very soon, the car came to a full stop for an indefinite period of time. For a complete overhaul, it was decided to obtain another body of the same car in its standard version. These plans, however, did not come true. All this time, the car has been rusting on an outdoor parking in the suburbs.  Recently, the owners renewed their plans for the restoration of this Chevrolet.
Let’s wait.
Time will show what they are really capable of.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chevrolet Suburban Silverado (Part 1)

This monster appeared in one of the local restoration workshops quite recently. When this giant was first brought to the workshop, the masters were simply stunned. The condition of the SUV, to put it mildly, was unsatisfactory. A large part of the chassis and body was badly afflicted with corrosion that, in some places, holed those elements altogether. How could it come to pass that a thirty-year-old car reached such a deplorable state? To find an answer to this question and shed light on the history of this car I launched a little investigation.

And so, what we’ve got is a Chevrolet Suburban Silverado belonging to K1500 series released in 1989. This model was produced at the General Motors plant in city of Flint, Michigan, from 1989 to 1991, which, by the way, indicates the sticker on the driver’s door. This Suburban is equipped with 5.7-liter 16-valve V8 carburetor engine, automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system with a mechanical transfer case. This exemplar was released in May, which means the car was intended for the 1989 model year. In the same month, the Michigan traffic police registered this Chevy in the name of a local resident. Over the next ten years, the car had several minor accidents having run in total about 90.000 miles.

After each accident, this SUV was repaired in private workshops, and over time it ceased to be the only vehicle of the family yielding its position to more modern and compact cars. The SUV found its rest in a cozy garage for a long time being used, from time to time, only for trips over rough terrain. By the end of the 90’s the car had new owners from Los-Angeles, who decided to radically change the image of the SUV and transformed it into a real off-road truck.
To be continued...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Nissan Skyline Project Car (Part 2)

At that time, there were very few similar sports cars in Yerevan.
As for Skylines, there were no more than five, whose owners were even acquainted with each other. The lucky owner enjoyed his car for over a year occasionally participating in various sport events. However, there weren’t any major achievements in that period.

On May 9 2011, there came the crucial point in the fate of this car. The owner lost the control of the car at high speed and crashed into a tree with the back of the body. During the accident, besides the driver, there were two passengers in car, but fortunately all of them survived. Thanks to the experts from the rescue service, the injured were safely taken out from the wrecked car. After months of forensic examination, the car was returned to its owner. This Nissan Skyline stood idle in an open parking lot for a long time. Its further existence was questionable. Even the famous scrap dealers did not dare take it.  However, in early 2012 there appeared a brave man, who decided to restore this car. He managed to obtain a new independent rear suspension. The on-board power supply of the vehicle has already been restored. There has been also carried out some works in stretching and geometry of the body.

However, the car is expected to have its final form only after its new fiberglass body in the style of Nissan GT-R R35 is ready. This project has been lasting for years and it is still unknown when it will be completed. I will try to periodically visit the workshop, where the guys are working hard to revive this amazing Skyline.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Nissan Skyline Project Car (Part 1)

The model named Skyline has always inspired deep reverence among the fans of Japanese sports cars and brought honor to its owners. One of the most famous and oldest models of Nissan has been on the line since 1957.

There has been released numerous generations of this legendary vehicle, among which you can often find quite rare and amazing modifications such as the nicely charged GT-R version. The most limited editions of the Skyline are to be found starting from the 10th generation that bear the body index R 34. Today I will introduce one of the 217.133 released Nissan Skylines belonging to the 9th generation with the body index R 33. It wasn’t by chance that this exemplar found itself in Armenia.
With a chassis number HR33-109153, this car was produced in March 1998. In the summer of 2009, Ashot Matevosyan, an inveterate car enthusiast, big fan of this make and finally, an aspiring actor, bought this car at one of the Japanese auctions.

The preference was given to the 2.0-liter RB20E atmospheric engine and 5-speed FS5W71C manual transmission, since this pair is very durable and requires minimal maintenance.
Besides, this was the owner’s first right-hand-drive car, so at first the dynamic characteristics were in excess. At the end of October 2009, the car arrived in the Georgian city of Poti, from where it was brought to Armenia.
The snow-white coupe was in excellent condition; as a hefty bonus, the new owner received sports body kit with a massive rear wing, custom high-performance exhaust system and expensive alloy wheels.
To be continued...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mercedes-Benz W126 (Part 3)

In 2002, it was purchased by the driver of the Prime Minister’s adviser, who later became an entrepreneur. At that time the mileage of this Mercedes was 40.000 km and it was in perfect condition. Since then, the owner has remained loyal to his car and never attempted to sell it. The car underwent two major renovations: complete body painting in 2003 and engine replacement in 2008. 

Instead of its former 2.8L engine, the car is presently equipped with a stronger 3.2L petrol engine and manual transmission. As before, the car receives proper and timely maintenance. Unlike the majority of car owners in our region, the owner of this Mercedes is gifted with a unique quality: whenever the car is in need of repair, he always gives preference to original parts and accessories, in consequence of which this car has a high percentage of retaining its original condition. Externally it differs only through its wheel rims.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mercedes-Benz W126 (Part 2)

The W126 is undoubtedly the brightest creation of the Italian and the “visiting card” of the German company for many years ahead.
This particular model has had a very interesting fate. Released in 1982, it was brought to Armenia in 1990. It has a serial number of the chassis 2210068578. The first owner of this Mercedes in Armenia was the Deputy Minister of state security Committee of the Republic.

Having a few official cars, the Deputy Minister preferred to use his personal vehicle only in exceptional cases. Being a great lover of cars, he chose for personal use exactly the same car as the one that served the President of the Republic. It only differed in color; the only black Mercedes-Benz SEL 500 served as the official car of the President. This sample, which was no less popular in the republic, was originally painted in silver blue metallic. The presidential Mercedes was soon refreshed with a brand new W140. However, this W126 remained in possession of the same owner for many years.
To be continued…

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mercedes-Benz W126 (Part 1)

Quite often, the cars that we own or the ones that we see in the streets of our cities every day, over time, unnoticeably become live exemplars of classic cars. Now the largest number of such vehicles, which are daily used by motorists, belong to the so-called “old-timer” category. This term has a different meaning in different countries, but in the conventional sense it refers to a vehicle released over 30 years ago that has certain prerequisites in order to become a classic car.

A vivid example of a former “young-timer”, but now a full-fledged “old-timer” is the S-class Mercedes-Benz with the body index W(C) 126. In 1979, having replaced the previous flagship model, the W116, this S-class wrote its name in gold letters in the history of the Mercedes-Benz. During the production years, this model was used as an official car for many country leaders.

For its unique appearance this car is beholden to Bruno Sacco, one of the greatest designers of the twentieth century, to the pencil of whom all the models released after 1975 belong.
To be continued…

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Toyota Crown (Part 2)

The fact of having a rather archaic frame design was perceived quite positively by motorists, since with all the disadvantages regarding the weight and cost of these cars, they were considered as extremely reliable and easily repairable when used in harsh local conditions.

This Toyota Crown was selected according to all the above mentioned criteria. This model of the 6th generation, from the front side, is reminiscent of the popular Cadillac Seville of 1975. In 1991 the car appeared in Armenia, making its long way from a commercial seaport of distant Vladivostok to the town of Echmiadzin, the spiritual capital Armenia. This is one of the first Toyota cars in the whole region. It was initially owned by a major entrepreneur, who was originally from Armenia, but most of his time he spent in Vladivostok. Thus, having stood idle in a garage for many years, this Toyota was consigned to oblivion altogether. Only in 2006 the owners remembered about the existence of this car, since it appeared that they had not paid the annual car taxes for many years, in consequence of which they amassed a considerable debt, which made them sell the car. In the hands of its new owner the car literally revived.

Equipped with the top 2.8L inline-6-cylinder petrol engine with electronic fuel injection and 4-speed automatic transmission, this sample of 1979 production has the most technologically advanced configuration. Among other technological peculiarities of the configuration that are the electronically adjustable backseats, radio set with electronic tuner and cassette player with karaoke recorder. The car has changed three owners so far and still can be seen on the streets of Echmiadzin.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Toyota Crown (Part 1)

During the years of the so-called “perestroika”, a large-scale influx of foreign cars gradually started in the Soviet republics, which I mentioned many times in my previous articles. Over a short period of time, the streets, which hitherto had been clogged up with monotonous traffic basically consisting of Zhigulis, Volgas and Moskvitches, were flooded with cars of various makes and models. Regardless of social status, people were finally able to freely and fearlessly acquire used foreign vehicles.

It was reckoned that a used foreign car was much higher in rank than that of the domestic production by many criteria, among which to be noted the driving comfort, assembly quality, configuration and equipment, variety of engines and transmissions. In this flux of foreign cars, the right-hand vehicles from the land of the rising sun, quite rightly, deserve special attention. In the 80-ies, in the heyday of the automotive industry, Japanese cars differed primarily through their amazing design. All those cars bore striking singularity, for instance, the side mirrors located on the front sides of the body, instead of the doors, the door visors, which were designed to protect passengers from the sun and rain when the windows were slightly open, the unusual plastic bumpers smoothly merging with the body and many other different things.
Moreover, the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars were almost always offered with such technologically advanced options for those times, as power steering, vacuum brake boosters, sometimes even air conditioning, as well as a wide variety of supporting electronic systems, which enabled them to be compared with other foreign vehicles belonging to higher classes.
However, there was a model especially highly appreciated by the fans of the business class. That car was known as Toyota Crown.
Being very undemanding and richly equipped, the Crown immediately became very popular and earned a title of a prestigious, comfortable and durable car.
To be continued...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Lucky Camaro (Part 2)

By that time, the fleet of the professional sports cars in Armenia had become so outdated, that it was the only chance to hold a motor-sport event in the country. The event was timed to coincide with the independence day of Armenia. To the organizers’ surprise, lots of car enthusiasts responded to the announcement; about fifty drivers applied for participation and practically all of them were allowed to the start. The above-mentioned Camaro was also among the participants.

And yes … it was the star of the two-day race across the country. The cars were divided into classes based on their engine volumes. The red Camaro accordingly got into the “Absolute” class, which had no restrictions on engine size. After the draw, the car was given the starting number “15” and in the morning of 21 September 2002 the race started.
The photo was taken the day after the start of the race, during the announcement of the results of the competition. The Camaro unfortunately did not receive any prize, but it deeply impressed all the motorists throughout Armenia and was remembered for a long time. The car was used extremely carefully and never went out of the garage in winters.

No matter how gently and carefully it had been treated, the car refused to go one day. After another winter “hibernation”, the engine appeared to have become useless. These photos, in which the old Camaro is awaiting its new destiny in its old owner’s yard, were taken in 2010. And indeed, after some time the car came to life again!

It was bought by another car enthusiast, who noticed the dying athlete in the neighboring yard. A few months of recovery works and some investments allowed the car to bring into a working state. Although this new owner does not have an own garage, he still treats the Camaro with great care and tenderness.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Lucky Camaro (Part 1)

Sports cars acquired for everyday use quite often end up in scrapyards. The owners, sooner or later, dare to squeeze the utmost from their high-revving engines, which sometimes creates unexpected and dangerous situations on the roads, for which only highly skilled and experienced pilots are ready. After such failed attempts to show off, the owners, having an impressive budget for reincarnation, either restore their cars or throw the remains away. In this respect, this Chevrolet Camaro RS is very lucky not to have shared the fate of another sample in Yerevan, and is still alive. This Camaro, after six years in the United States, appeared in Armenia in March 1997.

From that point, there began a new phase in the history of the car. By the time, there were only a few such vivid sports cars in the town, among which there were two examples certainly worthy of great attention, the bright red Chevrolet Corvette and the white Camaro. Over the next few years, both of the cars, as you might have already guessed, were unfortunately broken by their owner and were never restored. But luckily, in 1997, one of the 140.848 released copies, so much rare in our streets, arrived in Yerevan. Among the technical features of this car it is necessary to highlight the huge V8 engine with a capacity of 5.0 liters. Paired with manual transmission, this coupe shows outstanding dynamic performance.

This Camaro could be seen every day in different parts of our city. It was actively used as a daily family car. The owner of the car was a young man living in the small city center, and the car was frequently shot for different sorts of clips and movies. In 2002 the Automobile Federation of Armenia announced the first republic championship for amateur rally, which was open to everyone who owned a roadworthy vehicle.
To be continued…

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Opel Kapitan (Part 2)

According to documents, this car was released in 1938. In reality, it belongs to the first generation and was presumably produced between 1939 and 1949. The front wings with elongated optics were lost even before the restoration. Due to lack of information, Albert replaced them with those of Opel Kapitan of second generation with a different design of the front optics.

Neither had he any idea how the car should look in reality, and therefore most of the design solutions were created by himself. He also had to recreate the bumpers, the sidewalls of the hood and many other details from scratch. It should be noted that the engine and the gearbox were taken from the soviet GAZ-21 “Volga”
All the bearing elements of the chassis were also taken from the “Volga” and the result was a custom Opel built on units of “Volga”
After years of hard restoration works the seemingly new Opel Kapitan finally hit the road once again.
Over the next few years, the Opel could be seen almost at all retro events of our city pleasing the fans of retro cars. The next stage in the history of the car can be considered the opening of a new Opel dealership in Yerevan. The leadership of the official representative of the German make became interested in the car and soon purchased it for $5000. After the acquisition, they carried out some cosmetic repairs and removed all the non-original parts from the exterior.

Presently this car proudly stands in front of the show room of new Opel cars reminding visitors about one of the oldest car manufacturers in the world.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Opel Kapitan (Part 1)

This Opel Kapitan is one of the few vintage cars in Armenia, which received a relatively better fate than many other samples from its epoch.
We met the owner of this car many years ago; if I am not mistaken, it was in 2001. At the time, we were involved in organizing just another retro event with participation of many classic cars. In order that the event could take place, we needed to gather a certain number of old vehicles, which were supposed to be in excellent condition both technically and externally. The event was going to be attended basically by the permanent members of the Automobile Federation of Armenia, or rather, by those car owners who had already been registered for the club of classic cars at the federation.

However, it was still necessary to find at least one car, in order to replenish the list of participants. On the eve of the event, we happened to see this Opel in the street on our way home. At first glance, the car was in a quite fresh condition, so we offered the owner a place in the convoy of classic cars. In addition, we issued him a membership of the club and federation.
The event went perfectly and we had enough time to get to know each other better afterwards. It turned out that Albert Sargsyan, the owner of the car, had owned it since 1984. According to Albert’s statement, this Opel had been brought to Armenia in the early postwar years as a war trophy, after which it was used by a family of a former army officer for many years. During that years, many native units fell into disrepair and were replaced with soviet ones; some details were lost forever. This “Kapitan” passed by inheritance to Albert Sargsyan in a dreadful condition. At first Albert did not know what to do with the scrapheap he inherited in 1984. After some time, he decided to get down to the rehabilitation of his retro-car.
To be continued…

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Modified Honda Prelude (Part 2)

Special attention needs to be paid to the seriously modified exhaust system. There are three exhaust pipes connected to a handmade manifold. The pair of the exhaust pipes, which come out from the rear body, only work at high revs, when the turbocharger operates, providing sufficient ejection of exhaust gases.

At low revs, there engages an additional muffler taken from a CZ motorcycle, which comes out from the side. By the way, the owner has invented a special mechanism, which, at certain engine revs, produces fire flames through the exhaust pipes. This Honda Prelude is equipped with electronic four-wheel steering system, which was also broken, but later restored.

As a conclusion to all the modifications that changed the dynamic performance of this sports coupe, the owner has modified the original breaking system. Now the rear wheels are equipped with disc brakes. As for the front ones, the standard two-piston discs have been replaced with powerful six-caliper discs. The wheel rims have also been replaced with larger and ventilated ones. Now the car has got 17-inch wheels with 245/45 Nitto racing tires.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Modified Honda Prelude (Part 1)

At first glance, it’s quite difficult to identify what car this is. No wonder… the cars of this make can be rarely seen in the streets of our city. This is the Honda Prelude of the 4th generation produced between 1991 and 1996. The car in the pictures was produced in 1992, specifically for the EU market, which is evidenced by the underhood label. By the way, this is the rarest version of the Prelude, equipped with 2.3L 4-cylinder 160HP H23-A2 petrol engine.

Let’s start with the exterior.
Firstly, the car has an eye-catching airbrushing: the flames are so masterly and realistically executed that you frantically start thinking of a fire extinguisher when seeing it for the first time. The unique bumpers in the style of F1 are designed by the owner of the car. Neither could the owner resist intervention in the interior of the car, which is nicely realized in two-tone style. On the dashboard, next to the huge factory gauges, there are additional devices to watch the operation of the  turbocharger.

The last owner purchased this car in 2010 with a faulty engine and transmission (at the time the mileage was about 156.000 km).
Since it was initially planned to install a turbocharger, the engine and transmission have been reinforced only with high-strength parts of known brands that have maximal operating endurance. 

After a major overhaul, the presumptive engine power increased a few times reaching around 470HP. For more precise measurements, the car needs to undergo a "dyno" test, which is impossible, since there is no such equipment in Armenia. We have to content ourselves with the recommendations of the manufacturer of the turbocharger.
To be continued…