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…