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Shite of the Caucusus (and Balkans)

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Whilst men with beards are off doing heroic things at one end of Eastern Europe, I'm on my holidays at the other, in Georgia. So obviously, I've been annoying my girlfriend by taking lots of photos of shit cars (she's now resigned to it, and just goes 'oh, a lovely Lada' in a comedy* voice).

 

It's a bit weird car-wise here - they seem to import them from anywhere, so there's USDM stuff, right hand drive Japanese imports and the standard boatload of Opels and Mercedes spat out of the bottom of the European food chain. They seem to import a load of accident damaged stuff though - everything has terribly applied filler in it, and it seems normal to run without bumpers, with your number plate screwed straight on to the crash bar.

 

WiFi here is a bit crap, so this is just from a couple of days in Tbilisi. We were staying in the posh bit, so things will get more Soviet...

 

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Some shite I spotted in Georgia not too long ago (was in Kutaisi and Tbilisi plus a hairy roadtrip between the two, drivers there are worst I've come across in 80 countries apart from maybe Lebanon), lovely food, wine and people though. Similar-level shite spotted in Macedonia and Montenegro lately too, may post more pics elsewhere if anyone's interested.

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 Similar-level shite spotted in Macedonia and Montenegro lately too, may post more pics elsewhere if anyone's interested.

 

If anyone's interested? You're new here aren't you? Keep 'em coming. May I suggest you use this thread (and perhaps add 'Balkans' to the title)?

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Interesting, I've read that Georgia is a great place (apart form the whole Russian invasion in the North thing going on). How did you get over there - via Turkey?

Yeah, flew via Istanbul, it's pretty painless. There's a budget airline (Wizzair?) that fly directly from London to Kutaisi but you arrive at 3am or something and I'm officially too old for that sort of shit.

 

Some shite I spotted in Georgia not too long ago (was in Kutaisi and Tbilisi plus a hairy roadtrip between the two, drivers there are worst I've come across in 80 countries apart from maybe Lebanon)

Egypt for me, the answer to questions that start 'what's the worst place...' always seems to come back to Egypt. Good falafel, mind. Although I do have to admit, before today it's been a while since I last had someone overtaking the car overtaking me on a single lane road...

 

So, I left this in Tbilisi, where I picked up a hire car. My 'Subaru Forester or similar' turned out to be a US-spec CR-V 2.4, complete with column shift.

 

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Now, I reckon I'd get on with a decent CR-V diesel, but this is not that. I could talk about my theory that you need more than four cylinders to make an auto box work (although this is nowhere near as hopeless as the 'Chevrolet' Lanos I had in, er, Egypt) but mostly:

 

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It's completely fucking fucked. The rear suspension is collapsing, it sits about two inches lower at the back, and there'sa warped brake disc or something which makes the steering wheel visibly shake when you even tap the brakes.

 

And then I pulled off the motorway (into a village so small it isn't on Google maps) so my son could have a feed. It had always been a bit slow to start, but after 15 minutes we went to turn round and the battery was completely dead. The hire companies response was 'you must have left something on'. Er, no. 'Well, phone us back if you need us to speak to someone in Georgian'.

 

Half a mile down the road I find a man pulling an engine out of a Lada. After some Google Translate action, we get in his E500(!) and he jump starts me. I email the hire company saying that the battery is dying, and get a reply of 'the battery is normal, everything is good'.

 

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So obviously, the next morning it refuses to start again. I pay a taxi driver 10 lari (about £3) for another jump start, and phone the car hire people to tell them I'm not driving it anywhere until it's fixed. 'ok, we will call auto assistance'. This turns out to be an 18 year old in a Honda Accord with some jump leads, who refuses to do anything else.

 

'You cannot drive it, it is dangerous'

 

'But you can't fix it?'

 

'No'

 

'So what do I do?'

 

'I don't know'

 

Yes, ta, I'll stick with the AA for now. Eventually I find an actual garage and pay £40 for a new battery on the promise I'll be paid back. If I don't, it's being set on fire and driven through their office window, and I don't care it's on the first floor.

 

Anyway, you're here for the cars, right?

 

I have a thing for these, even though I know they're probably hopeless.

 

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Right, so you'll notice that I'm not that up on Soviet stuff, the model names all seem to be from a random number generator. This is a UAZ something and a Tata Bolero (LHD no less, no idea where they exported them to), as seen from across a river.

 

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And here's the UAZ later on:

 

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Err, no idea what these are.

 

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I've seen loads of Ladas now, so I've pretty much stopped taking photos.

 

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Is this a GAZ? Don't know, I'm making it up now really. I've seen a few though, and this is the only one without Mercedes wheel trims. The first time I saw one, I thought I'd seen a Lancia Trevi for a second.

 

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Zaporzhets?

 

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... and the WiFi has gone down. More later...

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Err, no idea what these are. (picture of silver 40's car facing off  white 50's car)

 

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Is this a GAZ? Don't know, I'm making it up now really. I've seen a few though, and this is the only one without Mercedes wheel trims. The first time I saw one, I thought I'd seen a Lancia Trevi for a second.

 

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In the picture of the 40's and 50's style cars, I think you may have struck gold - the silver one looks very much like a KIM-10, according to wiki underneath is an unlicenced copy of a UK Ford Prefect, only a few were produced from 1940 to 41 before war stopped play. Not many survive see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIM-10

 

The white car next to the KIM is an early GAZ 'Volga', I'll stick me neck out and suggest it's a third series 'M21' (1962 - 70).

 

Yes the Lancia themed beauty is a GAZ 3110 'Volga' (1996 - 2004) almost the last 'Volga' model made. It had the distinction of scoring 0 out of 4 stars in Russia's equivalent to NCAP.

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Young Communist

The white Volga has a sign on it which lead to this:

 

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Maybe the little grey "Kim-10" is part of that? It looks in very good nick - and quite delightful.

 

Makes sense, the KIM 10 must have been star of the show (it would be in my eyes) rather than some sort of sporty Beetle.

 

 

Incidentally there is a connection between the KIM and VW in that the KIM was a 'peoples car' project set up by the state, under Stalin’s command (KIM  = Kommunisticheskiy Internatsional Molodyozhi (Young Communist International Organisation) 64 KIM's were offered as prizes in the state lottery. We all know the history behind VW and a certain small dictator who told German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront) to start the production of a similar peoples car

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Right, time for a mini update. I'm going to say this is some sort of 90s Volga?

 

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And this is another one, owned by a decrepit monk with two walking sticks, a hearing aid and a hipster bun / beard combo.

 

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It's odd seeing Tehran on road signs. Here's some sort of odd Iranian Renault (the other Iranian cars I've seen have both been Peugeot 206s, which are less exciting)

 

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Fixing a water main outside our flat in Kutaisi

 

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This is a Moskvich, I think. 412?

 

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And here's an older one:

 

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And finally, when looking at a map for hiking routes and you see 'abandoned Soviet bulldozer', there's never going to be any doubt where you're walking to...

 

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Yep those are Volgas, the memorably named '3102' built from 1982 to 2010. Several variants were made including a V8 used by the police and early ones were fitted with a 'stratified charge' system for lean burning petrol - GAZ patented this in the early 50's long before the reactionary capitalistic running dogs used similar systems (eg Honda's CVCC).

 

The younger Moskvitch is a 412, the older one is probably a 402 or 407, I'll plump for a 407 due to the extravagant chrome work.

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I'm riding down to Albania in August, via Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia etc,  and this year I will endevor to stop and photograph the shite I see, rather than just ride past it.

 

And there is loads of shite about so will have to selective about what I stop the photograph otherwise I could be stopping too frequently.

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Fantastic. I'm always on high shite alert when I head abroad, but never seem to go to the right places. I was in Slovenia the other week and there seemed to be less shite than on my own driveway.

Croatia and Slovenia are both packed full of boring modern Eurochod. You really do have to go hunting for old stuff.

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Another UAZ, with floral curtains.

 

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Er, don't know. I like the starting handle though.

 

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Something for the school run:

 

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More commercial shite:

 

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Our car rental agreement said specifically that we weren't allowed to drive it on the road from Mestia to Ushguli, because it wasn't 4x4 enough (which, having seen the state of the road, is probably fair enough). So, taxi. This was our steed:

 

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The Georgian tourist industry is based on churches, wine and Delicas. 

 

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Marbella!

 

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Hardcore Russian UAZ, Was driving around with Harleys. 

 

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Another Volga, probably.

 

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Newer Ladas.

 

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Volga? Yeah, why not.

 

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The Georgian for pineapple is ანანასი

 

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Some proper Yank shite.

 

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Shuttle. Parked outside the president's palace, no less.

 

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Yeah, the Mitsuoka treatment doesn't really work on a K12, does it? Still, this was quite a high spec one, with Autech bits and e4WD, which sounds interesting for 15 years ago - the engine drives the front wheels, and there's a hybrid-style electric motor that kicks in to drive the rear ones when it senses that they're losing traction, so no diff needed. 

 

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And there we go, that's your lot. This is only really a fraction of what I saw, and in particular I'd like to have poked around the scrapyard I saw on the way to Mestia as it had a load of 40s and 50s looking stuff in, but apparently that's not a family friendly holiday activity, so there you go. I can really recommend Georgia as a place to visit though - scenery, wine and nice people. 

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Er, don't know. I like the starting handle though.

 

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Another Volga, probably.

 

Volga? Yeah, why not.

 

 

Yep they're Volgas.

 

That 4 x 4 is a UAZ 469 the USSR equivalent to the ubiquitous Land Rover (Defender style). Production started in 1971 and they were originally made only for military and government/public service use; later a 'civilian' version was produced but surplus ex-service ones were/are sold to civilians so you see a mixture of types on the road. I don't know whether the one pictured above is a civilian one or ex-military, the paint scheme suggests it's from the services.

 

They were sold in over 80 countries, including West Germany, I wonder how well they would have sold here? They are praised for their ruggedness and ease of repair. Production of the civilian version has stopped (due to emissions) and it has been replaced by the UAZ Hunter (see below). You can buy a Hunter in the Czech Republic for a mere 395,000 Czech Crowns (£13,452) - which would mean you can bring it here (or at least up to March next year...).

 

https://uaz.global/cars/suv/hunter

 

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I believe the KIM car is an Opel-based Moskvich.

 

KIM chat - the original KIM, as seen above (I think, see below) was the one based on a Ford Prefects running gear without Fords permission.The brand name 'KIM' was replaced by 'Moskvich' after the war, and the first Moskvich, the '400', was based on the Opel Kadett, in this case it was a 'formal' arrangement. What actually happened was the wholesale lifting of the means of production from Russelheim as 'war reparations', Uncle Joe Stalin was said to have picked the Opel design as his preferred choice for a small Soviet car.

 

But the KIM and the Moskvitch 400 look remarkably similar. The main difference seems to be the number of doors - 2 on a KIM and 4 on a 400, the car in the photo above has 2 doors. Interesting to note it's reg number is OPL 800 - now is this a coincidence?

 

Here's an interesting link -

 

http://copy-cats.work/vehicles2/ford-prefect-uk-kim-10-50-ussr-ford-vairogs-junior-latvia

 

And some info about the KIM and the 400.

 

https://sputniknews.com/art_living/201704251052993705-soviet-compact-car/

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