Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Stellar Mercedes

Last summer was unusually hot. Actually, the year was full of various natural anomalies and started with the fact that we had no snow on New Year’s Day.
Strange and rich in all sorts of surprises, the year started to bore me towards the end of the summer, therefore I decided to arrange a well-earned little vacation. So, in late August, I went to neighboring Georgia. My way to the southwest of the country, in an area called Adjara, lay through Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Within a few days, I had to be able to visit several parts of the region, and of course, Batumi, the most popular resort city in Georgia. Rest is important of course, but as a true vintage car lover, I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to find some classic car, or, at least, to reveal an interesting story about a retro vehicle. In Batumi, I spent only 3 days, the first two of which I was unable to find anything interesting, except this governmental GAZ-14 Chaika.

But finally, fortune smiled on me. I couldn’t even understand how I found myself in that dead street, which was closed from all sides. My attention was immediately caught by a black sedan surrounded with modern vehicles. Coming closer, I discovered that it was a Mercedes-Benz 230 S the W111 body. These cars were produced from 1965 to 1968 and there were 40.766 copies released. The condition of the car, let’s say, was not perfect. The body bore many marks of rust and was covered with lots of dents. Plus to all, the rear right window was missing.

 Nevertheless, I was burning in curiosity to find out, to whom the car belonged. My search didn’t last long and after a few minutes, I was nicely conversing with the owner in front of the car. George Romanovsky, as he introduced himself, had permanently moved to Moscow quite recently and visited his homeland only occasionally. He used to be the most prominent representative of Jewish community in Georgia, but what interested me most was his hobby of collecting cars.

According to him, his collection embraced literally all the models of executive limousines produced in the USSR, from ZIS-101 to GAZ-14. All those cars were in Moscow, so there remained nothing, but to trust his word. Then we started to talk about the Mercedes and Mr. Romanovsky told me another unsupported story, according to which the first owner of the car, in 1965, was the famous French actor Jean Mare. In the early 70’s, the possession of the car took none other than Charles Aznavour. After that, in the 80’s, Aznavour personally gave the car to the famous Armenian actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan.

The stellar biography of this Mercedes ends in 1991, when the last owner bought it from Frunzik Mkrtchyan and brought it to Georgia, where it currently is. The story of this car, of course, doesn’t purport to be a historical chronicle, since it is based only on the words of one of its “characters”.
However, the fact that this car has survived and is in complete factory condition deserves our attention.