Superb concours propels Russian classic show into the big league

| 31 Mar 2012

The special prize from jury chief Mark Culas at Russia's first "international-standard" classic car concours d'elegance was given to an aerodynamic 1950 Tatra T87 powered by a 2.9-litre rear-mounted V8.

It was one of several key awards handed out at the concours, which took place during the 10th running of Ilya Sorokin's fast-growing Oldtimer-Gallery at Moscow's Crocus Expo from 8-11 March.

Culas, organiser of the Baden-Baden Oldtimer Meeting in Germany, was a special guest in the Russian capital to see what is now Eastern Europe's biggest classic car show.

Winners in the other four categories were a 1903 Darracq in the Legends group for pre-1919 cars.

Best of the Classics (cars from 1920-1929) was a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Piccadilly Roadster, one of just 70 so-bodied.

The Masterpiece class covered 1930-1944 and included some streamlined beauties, but the winner was a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster.

The post-war to 1959 era was covered by Style and was won by a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing', which also scooped the public vote as car of show.

Last of the groups, Nostalgia, covered the 1960s and a 1962 Jaguar E-type took the honours.

The fact that several of the winning cars have been imported into Russia in the past few years underlines the growing wealth in the country and the booming interest in spending that wealth on classic cars.

That point was emphasised throughout the show, but it was not all about seldom-seen western rarities making an appearance in Russia.

Here are some of the more intriguing vehicles on display.

The Russian-Baltic Type K12/20 from the Polytechnical Museum is said to be the only pre-revolution homebuilt car to survive in Russia. Built in Riga with input from Swiss Julienne Potter there were seven chassis and the K12/20 was the 'light" car version.

According to historian Lev Shugurov this is chassis 73 V, one of 40 of that series and was built in September 1911. It was discovered in 1966 in Kimry, Kalinin (now Tver) region. The owner was a stream boiler mechanic called Orlov who bought in it in 1929 year and drove it for a decade until non-availability of tyres forced him to store it in a barn.

It was eventually restored by the Scientific Automotor Institute (NAMI) by command of the USSR Automobile industry Minister. Its appearance at the Oldtimer-Gallery was the first time it had been seen outside the museum since 1988.

Another fascinating exhibit was the 1959 Kiev-Sport racing car, based on Moskvitch 407 running gear. One of just three built , having been designed by YL Zemtsov and built by Kiev aircraft GKSOKB-473 (today named OKB after the more familiar OK Antonov), it was successfully campaigned and long-term-owned by Vladimir Likhatsky.

The 1936 ZIS-8 is a bus based on the ZIS-5 truck, one of 547 built and was another vehicle that was barn-stored until discovery and full restoration.

Another interesting ZIS, the 1943 ZIS-44 was an ambulance variant using a timber-framed body.

As always at Oldtimer-Gallery, there was plenty of military machinery including the 1940 Komsomolets T-20, a small, armour-plated tracked vehicle created to tow tanks and artillery. Nearly 8000 of them were built.

Other highlights included a 1970 Moskvitch 412 rally car with London-Mexico World Cup Rally history.

Of course, there were also plenty of G wagons.

A 1967 GAZ-69 with matching 704 trailer is the Soviet off-roader while below is the 1935 GAZ-AA, the development of a truck built under licence from Ford.

The 1937 GAZ-AAA six-wheeler was one of the USSR's first off-road lorries. 

Another intriguing pair of GAZs included the ex-Yuri Gagarin Volga 21 (below) and the 1944 67, the first Soviet 'Jeep' although the Willys clone 64 was technically earlier. 

Two more Zs worthy of note were the 1965 ZIL-157КЕ all-wheel-drive lorry that was in production for more than a generation and the 1956 ZIS-110P four-wheel-drive limo that was used by USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Meanwhile a 1977 VAZ-2101 showed the more mainstream side of Russian motor manufacture.

The next Oldtimer-Gallery will be held at Crocus Expo in 27-30 September.