Since I got such interesting feedback for my post on miscellaneous curbside classics around my neighborhood of Berlin Neukölln, I decided to start a little series and invite you on another walk around my little corner of the world. I actually have to thank the German government to be able to do this write-up: Since I am on state subsidized part-time employment since the arrival of our first-born child, I get to spend much more time walking around with my son and taking the following photographs. During one of those walks I spotted this concours-worthy Ford Taunus 20M Coupe.
I have a weakness for Japanese curbside classics from the mid-eighties to mid-nineties as they seem to be the all-time high point in build-quality in the history of the automobile. Amongst this group of vehicles, one serious contender for the best build quality arguably is the Toyota Corona which was sold in Europe as the Carina 2 between 1987 and 1991. This example presents nicely in dark red metallic. My mechanic told me the front brake pads on his Carina 2 lasted 140k miles….
My last post had a strong focus on camper-vans. While today I will focus on a lower to the ground species – the sedan – I just cannot withhold from you this beautiful LHD Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon! This one is a 2.4 liter Turbodiesel with an automatic transmission and a wooden steering wheel. I wonder how many LHD Delica Star Wagons made it to continental Europe! This one, sporting British plates, is the first one I have seen in 30 years of car spotting.
Here is a less fancy, still quite beautiful European RHD version of the Delica, which was of course called Mitsubishi L300.
Time-jump to the nineties! This Mazda Xedos 6 – or Eunos 500 as it was known in Japan and Australia – wasn‘t much of a commercial success with barely 70.000 produced. Positioned in an awkward corner of the market where it aimed higher than it could shoot, and cursed with bad packaging I still cannot help but think that is really beautiful vehicle. The profile in particular seems worthy of a Jaguar. Just call it an X-Type generation zero!
Oligarchs, UN officials on a peace mission, ISIS military commanders, Australian farmers – many important folks fancy themselves a nice Land Cruiser, and for a reason. As impressively preserved and ready to cross the Sahara an example as this one is, why you would drive it in Berlin is beyond me. But then the license plates say it is from Munich and we all know the Bavarians are a different story….
Speaking of Bavaria, this one is going to be interesting mostly to our non-European readers I assume. Competing for the most awkward looking BMW in the history of the brand (with the first generation 1-series hatchback, and the 2-series grand tourer, a high-roof elongated version of the above vehicle), this BMW 225xe active tourer stands out mostly for its hybrid drivetrain with the Mini 1.5 liter turbo-three powering the front wheels and a 65KW/85hp electric motor powering the rear wheels in a more traditionally BMW way. Together this makes for a fast (0-62 in 6.7) if somewhat overweight (3800lbs!) raised hatchback which, if you really wanted to, you could call a CUV.
Granted, the BMW isn’t really a classic car and more than a few summers will pass until it gets there. It will be interesting to see how the complicated drivetrain holds up over time.
The W126 S-Class has been written about more than enough. Still I thought I would present one of the lesser seen early examples. Although I am a friend of the two tone Sacco plastic cladding, without it, the W126 looks even more elegant. Does anyone have a clue about those wheels? I have never seen these on a W126 before, but find them quite attractive.
When have you last seen an Audi 100 C2, well-preserved or just barely breathing? What about a C1? Exactly. That’s what I felt like when I saw this. Unbelievable. When we think of Audi as the brand it is today, this is where it all began. Is it just me or is there more than just a bit of BMW E3 in the side view. But maybe it was just that time.
And yet another DS. It’s funny how these things manage to look as much as spaceships now as they must have when they came out in 1955. A Goddess that isn’t of this world! (yet is street-parked as if it were).
The Opel Frontera is one of those GM vehicles that was offered under a million different names in every corner of the earth. It’s only remarkable for its abundance and quality to forget about it one second after you saw it. It’s the fate of these kinds of vehicles that they disappear quickly, workhorses that none gives a second thought about preserving. Imagine my face as I saw one looked as i fit had just rolled of the assembly line!
When the first generation Smart two-door came out, a lengthy public discussion ensued about the right to sideways park the quintessential mini car that has since made it across the ocean and spawned kids and grandkids. While it was never officially allowed to park a Smart sideways, many people still do it in Berlin and apparently, one class higher, in the kei class of cars, people are following suit. The Subaru Libero now has a cult following and in my neighborhood alone I see 5 or 6 of them regularly. Like this one, they all are kept in admirable shape!
A Saab Cabrio from the late eighties is the logical choice for the big city lawyer or a dentist’s wife. We see many of these and if you want one, better be ready to put 20 grand on the table. What I never see, though, is a 900 sedan, which is even more awkward looking than the hatchback. Say what you will about the design, but there just isn’t another vehicle like a 900. Rest in peace Saab, I hated to see you go.
If you buy a Mercedes-Benz, you want to stand out, and comfortably so. But what if every tenth car is a Mercedes, like in Germany? What even if you see like 20 classic S-Class everyday?
Low and behold, here is the ultimate classic vehicle from the Swabian boosters of the German postwar economy. Take it to a car show and you will just block out the three Gullwings standing behind it. For a better sense of scale, i left a, comparably minuscule, Sprinter in the frame.
Can anyone identify this behemoth? Trucks aren’t my strong suit. (ED: it’s a former moving van)
Speaking of a classic S-Class, the German classic car scene has engaged in a fierce battle over whether a period correct pimped car should really count as a classic, as it is modified from its factory specifications. While I don’t really have an opinion on that, what about a car that is modified with parts FROM THE FUTURE, like this W126 with what looks like W220 wheels?
The unloved three series. Less power and handling than an e30 while not as good looking as an 02, this is how Germancarsforsale desribed the awkward position of the E21 in the heritage of small BMWs. But while BMWs have become ever uglier throught the past 15 years(with the notable exception of the F30 3-series maybe), the shark-nosed E21 now looks like a much more attractive offer.
In the comments to my last post, the question arose why all these camper vans are parked in the streets and if people live in them. It is hard to say. With the real estate market spiraling towards the heavens and both foreign and domestic capital quadrupling land prices in some neighborhoods in Berlin over the last couple of years, more than a few people have resorted to a life less bound to unaffordable apartments. There definitely has been a strange coincidence of my neighborhood’s gentrification and the appearance of camper vans parked in the street. The line between poverty and hip has never been finer.
And thus is is always unclear whether a nicely preserved early L300 like this is a fun weekend toy for the newly wealthy or a refuge for someone who came to Berlin for the formerly cheap rents and then lost his apartment because of the German housing crisis.
This is where it gets good. The Renault 25 has enjoyed an elevated level of interest in the classic car scene over the past couple of years as its family tie to the Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco have been highlighted. Those cars, or rather, there underpinnings, more than inspired an entire generation of the Chrysler cloud cars which helped the Pentastar to survive the early nineties until Mercedes, and then much later Fiat, but that’s another story. Anyway, rarely have the French and the Americans been closer in terms of the automotive than around 1990.
And yet the father of it all, the Renault R25 has now all but disappeared from the roads in Germany where admittedly it was sold in homeopathic quantities in the first place. I hadn’t seen one in like ten years when I ran into this specimen.
Now while I got all excited and risked my life to snap pics from the best angle and light which turned out to be in the middle of the road during rush traffic, I realized the gravity of my sighting. This was not a regular R25: Not only did it have the 2.1 liter Turbo Diesel, it also had Plates from a French overseas territory. Yes, some lover of the cloud car father had shipped his R25 all the way from French Guiana (yep, that is just north of Brazil ) to Berlin, Germany.
Now this is the kind of CC sighting that makes me wish I had played the lottery that day.