Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Very Special GAZ 13C

When coming across a rare car, of which there are only a dozen left throughout the world, particularly, if we are talking about a soviet limousine, about which the entire male population of the USSR could not even dream, you start to experience a weird feeling.
The GAZ 13 Chaika was produced by Gorky Automobile Plant between 1959 and 1981. During that period there were released 3.200 units of various modifications, among which 15 convertibles with an index GAZ 13B and 20 ambulances with an index GAZ 13C. 
Today we know about, at least, 12 survived models of the medical modification, one of which will be introduced in this article.

Originally, this extremely rare modification of Chaika was designed to satisfy the needs of senior party officials that ruled the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Only very rarely, these cars could be seen in governmental motorcades. Interestingly, this modification was built by hand at the RAF factory in Latvia. The Latvian factory was supplied with ready chassis and engines from Nizhny Novgorod, after which the workers manually produced the body and made the final assemblies of the car. Since all Chaikas of medical modification were assembled by hand, they all differ from each other in terms of equipment and facilities in medical compartments. But, of course, there are also some common features, for example, they were all painted in black color and the windows of the passenger compartment, in contrast to regular ambulances, were not covered with white-opaque color, instead, they were equipped with dark curtains that could be tightly closed. Externally, these vehicles had no identification marks and could not be differentiated from one another.

Produced in 1973, this Chaika (chassis No. 002327 and body No. 002415U) is one of the first exemplars of this type. Initially, it was intended for the 4th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Health of the USSR and, at first, was used in Moscow. Later, in the early 1980’s, in the Central Committee of the Armenian SSR there arose a need for such a car. By that time, the production of GAZ 13 had already been discontinued and on May 19, 1983, this car arrived in Yerevan. In the next 11 years, this Chaika had its special medical staff and served nearly all secretaries of the Communist party of Armenia, including Karen Demirchyan, who was especially keen on this unique vehicle. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this Chaika did not remain in “retirement” for long and very soon, in 1994, it was legally obtained by a doctor named Vardan Janoyan.
At that time, the mileage of this car was about 10.000 kilometers. Fortunately, I managed to get to know the owner long ago, back in the 2000’s. At that time, the car had an amazing preservation. The body had never been repaired, nor had it been re-painted. The original paint shone like new.
After the acquisition, the owner almost has not driven the car. The mileage has not exceeded 12.500 kilometers so far.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Avetik Pandeyan the restorer

Another talented restorer is Avetik Pandeyan, who is known for his passion for European classic cars, particularly for those from the early 1930’s. Pandeyan’s collection includes real jewels of the German pre-war automotive industry.
 This master started his career in the 1970’s with restorations of trophy cars and motorcycles, the most prominent of which was the BMW 327 depicted in the photo with its new and happy owner from Europe.

 The next project was personal and planned to be implemented in the mid 1990’s. Back in 1984, Mr. Avetik managed to get a trophy convertible BMW 320 of 1938 production. After the war, the car was brought to Rostov, where it was used by an officer’s family. After some time, the car was in Shushi, a city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where, after many years, it was found fallen into decay. The restoration works on this car started in 1995. The body of the convertible was in critical condition. The doors, front wings and side steps had to be newly made in accordance with original drawings. The aluminum side panel of the hood with its tilt control mechanism and ventilation hole patterns, as well as the gills of the radiator grille, which has always been considered as the trademark of the BMW, had also to be reconstructed from scratch.
It should be mentioned that despite the pitiable state of the body, the original components were almost in an excellent state of preservation. In technical aspect, the car virtually remained 100% original, including the engine, manual transmission, drivetrain, front and rare suspension. Now, add to all this a lovingly restored interior and we have a perfect classic BMW, the owner of which will be looked at with envy.
The restoration works of this car, with some pauses and delays, lasted about 15 years.

Presently, Pandeyan is engaged in restoration of another pre-war German trophy convertible. This time this is an Audi produced in 1934. This model Mr. Avetik acquired in the territory of the former Soviet Union, but he refused to go into details about the exact country. The restoration project, which started 16 years ago, now is nearing to completion. The works on the body and its wooden structure is already completed.

The master complains that it takes quite a long time to find the original missing parts of the interior. Similar to the BMW 320, this instance also pleases with its completeness. All the elements of the technical part were produced more than 80 years ago and belong to Auto Union AG, the immediate predecessor of today’s Audi.