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.