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…

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Forerunner of Capitalism (Part 2)

This Cadillac did not look archaic in those days but now times have changed. Relatively low mileage had a positive impact on the technical condition of the car.
The shiny blue Cadillac Sedan DeVille with its terrific vinyl top fascinated the residents of our city for a long time. The owner also received lots of positive emotions from the car during the years of operation, because under the hood there was a real American V8 petrol engine with displacement: 4087cm3 / 249 cui, advertised power: 100.5 kW / 135 hp / 137 PS (SAE net), torque: 271 Nm / 200 lb-ft.




Towards the end of 1990s, when the city was already full of foreign cars, this Cadillac was no longer unique. Besides, the automatic transmission was not functioning properly by that time and the owner made a decision to get rid of the car. The next owner became the very traffic police officer, who, many years ago, had refused to register the car. Later he confessed that he had just been envious of not being able to afford such a luxury vehicle. However, this owner did not enjoy the purchase for long.


Soon the engine broke down and he simply did not have the means for the repairs, as a result of which the car was left idle in the street. In 1999 in Armenia the format of state license plates changed, but this car has not been entered into the new database yet. Fate seems to be playing déjà vu with this Cadillac again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Forerunner of Capitalism (Part 1)

It is no secret that immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union in all former socialist republics, the personal car fleet of the citizens began to rise rapidly. This active replenishment of vehicles was mainly due to imports of used cars, about which the absolute majority of the citizens of the fraternal republics could not even dream before the collapse of the Soviets.




In Armenia, until the early 90’s, the number of foreign cars was so tiny, that one could count them on the fingers of both hands. Except for the trophy cars brought to the USSR after the WW II, the fleet of the so-called exclusive cars basically consisted of the representatives of the American automobile industry. The undeniable leader among the “Americans” was always the Cadillac brand.  For the Soviet man, Cadillac was not just a symbol of luxury, but it also personified the freedom, of which he was dreaming in the depths of the soul.




Arrived in Yerevan during the soviet period, this Cadillac DeVille was one of the first forerunners of the capitalism. This car of 1984 production was brought in the late 80’s by Samvel Grigorian, a successful entrepreneur and connoisseur of American cars. At first, the Republican traffic police flatly refused to register the car explaining that civil servants, thus, would not cooperate with speculators (so called businessmen at that time). Without registration, it was impossible to drive the car in the city, so the owner had to confine himself to short drives in the immediate vicinity of his house. Only in April 1996, he managed to obtain state registration plates and technical documents. As seen in the photo, the plates bear special numbers for those times.
To be continued…

Monday, February 27, 2017

Exterior Fantasy: Lexus GS (Part 2)

At the end of February, after going through all the bureaucratic red tape at the custom office and getting the registration plates, the car was brought to the workshop of “Plasti DIP Armenia”, where it was decided to cover the entire body of the car with special American rubber paint. This method offers unlimited choice of colors; the final result normally depends on the imagination of a customer. In our case, the choice fell on purple with chameleon tints, including maroon and blue.


Some of the parts, like wing mirrors and moldings, were done in a matte black color, which gives the car an even sportier appearance. The front bumper was repainted in the style of F-Sport with the black middle, which visually unifies the radiator grille with the vents on the front bumper. All this is harmoniously combined with original wheel discs painted in a darker shade.
This vehicle is equipped with a 3.5L V6 24-valve 2GR-FSE petrol engine, which produces 317 HP. This engine along with the A760E semi-automatic transmission and all-wheel drive accelerate the car from 0 to 100km/h just in 6.3 seconds.
Currently, this Lexus is undergoing another stage of exterior modification. Most likely, very soon, the owner will present a quite different Lexus.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Exterior Fantasy: Lexus GS (Part 1)

It looks like the fans of individual car styling will never be satisfied with wide range of variations and rich diversity of modifications offered by official car dealers. Neither will such individuals be pleased with wide selections of interior decoration and stylish exterior solutions offered by representatives of such premium brands as Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Lexus.




Our today’s topic is exactly about such a car: the Lexus GS 350 depicted in the photos. The “earthly” life of this Lexus began on 11 April 2003, when it was given an identification number and came out of the gates of the native plant in Japan.
The car was almost immediately sent to an official dealer in Canada, where it had already been farsightedly reserved for a specific buyer. Initially, this exemplar was painted in a pearly white color with a factory code number 007. Later, after two years of operation, the owner decided to sell the car. For that purpose, he turned to “Reynolds & Reynolds”, the most popular dealer of used cars in Canada, which sold the car quite quickly.
In the spring of 2015, this Lexus was already in Armenia. When purchasing this car, the young man had already prepared himself for a deep re-styling of the exterior.
To be continued…

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Magic Altezza (Part 2)

The shaved body and super audio system, which is fully customized to take the previous owner’s fancy, are also among the tuning elements.
The appearance of such a car in Yerevan was like an explosion for the local fan club of Toyota Altezza. On this significant occasion, there was organized a gathering of owners of tuned Altezzas, and the coolest one was unanimously recognized this instance.




A few months later, this Toyota Altezza changed its owner. By that time, it was repainted in matt red color with addition of black, in order to create imitation of a panoramic roof. The new owner turned out to be a creative person, who decided to indulge his fantasies, by customizing the car once again. He turned to the guys from “Hot Road Garage Armenia” restoration workshop with the objective to change the body color and make some modifications to the suspension. At first, the guys put the car back on the original chassis and deprived it of the air suspension.


The interior was partially restored to the factory condition: the dashboard was changed, but, for the convenience of the driver, they did not touch the sport seats. The design of the front and rear bumpers was also changed. From the point of view of controllability, the car received more appropriate wheel rims. Eventually, the body was treated and repainted in dark blue metallic. The black elements remained untouched.





As a result, we have a very interesting car, which managed to retain its individuality, beauty and uniqueness. At the same time, we have a car with huge sporting potential.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Magic Altezza (Part 1)

The Toyota Altezza is highly appreciated not only by amateur drifters, but also professional representatives of this extreme sport. In the United States and Europe this car is known as the Lexus IS of the first generation and only experts in JDM culture are aware that in Japan this car is sold under the brand name of Toyota. The brand name, however, is not the sole distinguishing feature of the cars and technically these two are quite different vehicles.



During the years of the sale, the Altezza was offered with a large selection of power units, but mainly with mechanical transmission. Distinguished for its sporty behavior, the most notable engine is the 3S-GE. In this article, I will introduce an Altezza exactly with this engine.
So, what’s the “magic” of the 3S-GE?
The truth of the matter is that the engineers of Toyota collaborated with specialists from Yamaha when developing this 2.0L 4-cylinder in-line engine. That’s why this engine turned to be so revving, powerful, and roars like a motorcycle. This car is equipped with a Yamaha engine paired with 6-speed manual transmission. It was released in June 1999 and came out from the plant in white color.




Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about the tuning chronology and how many owners has had this car. The fact is, at the sale in a Japanese auction in September 2015, this Altezza had already undergone serious tuning and the body had a two-tone golden purple color. The original lot executed in a gangster style was sold to a client from Armenia. In January 2016, the car was already in Yerevan. A detailed inspection showed that the car has a modified suspension with controlled pneumatic elements.
To be continued...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Emka : The GAZ M1 (Part 2)

By that time, the taxi fleet of Yerevan had  been so much updated, that the old “Emka” looked rather archaic on the background of the GAZ M20 and GAZ 21; and besides, its 4-cylinder 50 HP flat-head engine was no longer able to meet Vanik’s expectations. Over the next few years, the car was constantly breaking down, which led to its complete unfitness. As a result, it was dismantled and the remains of the body were consigned to oblivion.




Many years later, in 2003, the remains of the car were discovered by Araik Hunanyan, a famous master known for his restorations of soviet cars of the prewar period. Araik reached an agreement to purchase the car, and got down to restoration soon after.
Since there was nothing left from the original image of the car, at primary stage of the restoration, it was decided to assemble a custom-version, without strong external differences from the original version, but with powerful “stuffing”
The car of 1938 production was destitute of the body number. During the restoration process, the car lost the registration number either. It received an engine from the GAZ-21, which did not prevent the master from having the vehicle registered at the traffic police, after which the car received a new certificate of registration. After few years of hard work, the car was finally able to leave the territory of the garage. Araik proved that it’s quite real to assemble a masterpiece from a pile of rotten scrap metal.