Israel’s premier classic car club, The Five Club (named after the five digits that adorned early Israeli license plates) hosts weekly meetings in various cities in the country, every Friday afternoons, once the weekend commences. From time to time, central meetings hold receptions of “new” classics that join the club, either through recent import to Israel or a restoration that has finally finished. Last Friday was such an event, celebrating the completion of a 1958 Volvo PV444. But this turned out to be much more than just that.
You see, the event was sponsored by the Israeli importers of Volvo, who decided to turn up with all their cars- including two tractor trucks flanking the restored PV444 (see top photo). You could seat inside various models, reserve test drives and what not. As a side note, I’m very impressed with recent Volvos- it seems they managed to re-invent themselves as luxury with a twist, not trying to imitate the three leading Germans. For example, the XC90 Excellence I sat in was very impressive and as good as anything you want to throw at it- and I’m speaking as a person who does not care much for SUVs. I could see myself driving one of these. Oh, wait: I could see myself being driven in one of these…
There was even this yet-unveiled-in-Israel S90, driven by the owner of the Volvo import/dealership in Israel, Mr. Yaakov Shachr himself.
Also, and more within CCs ally, many classic Volvo owners were invited to exhibit their cars, regardless if they were club members of not. And of course, other classic cars, mostly regular meeting attendees, were also being showed off.
Volvo in Israel were regarded very highly, even with the “old people’ cars” image they used to have. Built like tanks and providing creature comforts, in the Eighties the 200 and later 700 series were even chosen as ministers’ cars. Volvo, being Swede, helped avoiding the customary German route (Holocaust victims still had their influence- this is no more, as the president now rolls in an Audi A8). Most Volvos were cared for by owners buying them new, and passing them in the family, so their survival rates were actually not bad, these cars enjoying reputation for sturdiness and of course, safety. So their survival rates were far better than other, more popular cars.
So on with the photos:
Familiar shapes, front and back, the 244/240s
Some owners tried to personalize their cars, as with this green example…
… or this black “stealth” one. Late Seventies Volvo owner would shiver at the sight of these, but I like them.
Of course, earlier Volvos were also at hand, such as these 121 and 144. See some more below:
You will of course notice the GIANT bumper of this Orange 144. Israel did not follow the US 5mph rule in the Seventies, so it’s safe to say this is a new import from the USA (which I can also tell by the license plate).
But really, it was this car that set Volvo’s reputation in Israel, the 244/240 series. This is a late Seventies car.
Here are two more, a yellow 244 and its successor, a well preserved green 1985 240.
And here is a 1983 car. Note the (fake) horse-shows on the grill.
Another example, this is a 1985 car with US market headlights. Again I can tell by its license plate that it’s an original Israeli car and not a new import, so the owner must have added these at some point later in its life. The 740 is also from 1985.
There were also some P1800s at the event. Besides this beautiful ES, note there’s another P1800 behind it.
Lets turn away from Volvo and check out some of the other attendees at the meeting:
Nice, isn’t she? Mazda3 front wheel cover really does the trick.
Well, you can always go for Malaise type cars, such as this LaSabre.
Or this New Yorker.
How about this Caddy? I’m Sorry, but I think all these are horrible and represent all that was bad in the American car industry, back in the late Seventies.
Now that’s MUCH more like it.
As is this. And what’s that in the background?
“Give me wood, more wood I say!” must’ve been the head stylist’s lead.
Of course, not only American cars were present. Here are some European representatives:
See this interesting car, an obvious new import to Israel; any ex-Soviet would recognize this GAZ-21 Volga. The rest of us will compare it to American brands it obviously tried to copy…
The Escort was once very popular in Israel- it was assembled here at one time. Amazingly, even though it outsold Volvo there are far less survivors around.
One day I will post an article about the very interesting Israeli car, the Susita and its derivatives such as this Sabra, Israel’s first and only two-seater sports car. But this requires a lot of research, so it’s on hold at the moment.
Yes, we have Alfa here also. This is another original Seventies import.
As is this 1982 Innocenti Mini.
There’s always room for a majestic SL.
Back to US made cars- but cute ones, like this V200 Valiant.
Or this early Comet.
Yet older iron was also on the premises.
The meeting is starting to die down, and the Volvos are beginning to exit the grounds.
However, I spotted this nice Montecarlo SS, another new import. That sign behind the windshield says “for sale”…
A lonely ‘Vette.
I’ll finish off with two Volvos. The first is of course the star of the show, the restored 1958 PV444:
Funny how humble it seems compared to the S90 above.
But this is my favorite car at the event. A tongue-in-cheek volvo 144, made to look neglected on purpose, but with a twist, manifested in its seemingly out-of-place modern wheels. All complete with a hilarious slogan and a Ferrari sticker.
Never take yourself too seriously; Drive a Volvo.
Looks like a very good turnout. By the way, Volvo has been represented in Israel for a very long time, import of trucks starting in the early 30s and always had a solid reputation in the transport sector.
As a side note, a lot of the 144/145 and 244/245 models were imported with the 1.8L pushrod engine (usually coupled to a 3sp auto) box to make sure they not incur the penalty which, back then, was put on anything with an engine size larger than that displacement. The result was snail-like performance (particularly if you switched the aircon on) but for most buyers, the fact they could boast of owning a Volvo was enough, and there were not too many roads where you could travel at high speed in Israel back then (overtaking anything had to be planned well in advance though). Peugeot offered the 505 with similar specs and it was just as awful. From what I know, a lot of the cars nowadays have the bigger OHC 2.1L and 2.4L units – legally or illegally swapped – to offer adequate performance for today’s roads.
That is a wonderful variety of cars. This was a gathering in which I would look at every car there, not skipping half to two-thirds as is often the case.
Like a beleaguered stray puppy, the red Plymouth Gran Fury speaks to me. With them being so rare here, might this be about the only C-body in Israel?
Might just be. I haven’t seen any others for sure, and I do get around those meetings.
More from this meeting here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskLif4af
The Plymouth Fury? You can have it. Although I am a Mopar fanboi of long standing, this may represent the least appealing Plymouth in history. There have been some other contenders, but this one has it all – the awkward front end, the awful 2-door-hardtop-made-into-an-opera-window styling, the worst build quality in the history of the automobile, and finally the sadly mismatched hubcaps that seem to complete this car. I have a tendency to love the unloveable in cars, but I find nothing in my heart for this one.
But probably internationally, it’s the car defined what an American car was to a lot of kids. Lesney matchbox made two scales, 1/43 and 1/64, as taxi/fire chief/police cars.
Yep. I had two of the 1/64 variant of the Matchbox Gran Fury police cars as a child, and have had a love for these hard-to-love cars ever since. Both in Matchbox size (I think I have 8 of them at this point) and in 1:1 scale. This coupe may not be the most attractive thing in history but I really like it just the same!
A humorous note–on the 1/64 version, the way the car is modeled, it’s hard to tell that it has round lamps in square buckets–they just look like single rectangular lamps, so that’s what I thought these cars were equipped with. Having never seen one in person for the longest time (no police departments in my part of the world used Mopar and there weren’t many civilian versions) imagine my shock when I finally saw a real one and discovered that the headlights were actually round!
Im a lover of all things Mopar but it stops at the point that Im polishing a turd. That Fury just isn’t checking any boxes. As cleanas rhe R body is, I can’t say it does any better in my book.
At least SOMEONE loves ’em…
Perhaps this poor, stray puppy has a bad case of mange (and heart worms and a host of other maladies)?
There were a few sold in Israel when they were new and if I’m not totally mistaken, they were used by the administration to chauffer around top politicians; I would not discount the possibility there are more hibernating somewhere.
Wow. 72 Ranchero or blue Innocenti for me. Decisions, decisions…
Just a note on the ’73 big bumper 144. My father bought a big-bumper 145 in Australia, which was not subject to US legislation (they were actually CKD here). My understanding is that the big-bumpers on the last year of the 140 series was the same specification around the world.
This might be so, I don’t know. But still, the license plate doesn’t lie…
I think it may have been. I remember some of these cowcatcher Volvos here in Iceland, and they were all European spec.
The just coming out S90 was very sharp. Must be cool to have the only one in the country.
Well, after all he IS the head honcho (in Israel).
Always liked the big Mustangs. The red on above looks very sharp!!????
That last 144 looks exactly like one that I saw in Stockholm several years ago: mustard yellow, missing its front bumper, rough paint, but with modern wheels and a free flowing exhaust indicating engine enhancements. Maybe they are an emerging underground trend?
The “Ferrari” sticker, by the way, is actually a popular parody with a prancing moose replacing Ferrari’s horse, which takes the car’s tongue in cheek Swedish themes even further.
Right you are! it’s indeed a moose, I’ve enlarged the photo:
Here’s a slightly larger view of a “Prancing Moose” logo.
I love it ! .
Merkel was telling me Thursday evening that IPD used to sell these stickers =8-) .
Nice and very varied array of cars!
I for one am awaiting your article on Sussitas with baited breath. Ever since I’ve discovered these existed, I’ve been intrigued. But there’s not much info out there…
Weren´t they called “Rom Carmel” at some point?
I believe you are correct. And they looked a lot less pretty by then too.
And look-ey here, I found a photo of some of these Carmels by Yohai on the interwebs…
Yep, through ownership changes, the name changed from “Autocars Susita _” (where _ represents model numbers) to “Rom Carmel 1300/1301”.
In the photo you can see a late Sixties Susita 12, next to which is one of the last Rom Carmel 1301 from 1981.
An eclectic blend of vehicles, to say the least. And, as usual your photography is excellent. Thanks for posting!
Very enjoyable post – great pictures.
+1 Great stuff, Yohai.
(I may be in the minority, but I’m feeling that ’79 New Yorker.)
That might be the cleanest R-body New Yorker in existence.
There are few more of those in very excellent condition around metro Detroit, and one of them was for sale from Golling Chrysler, at $13000 in the same color.
Likewise the silver Cortina (Mk5 or 6) that is in the background of a couple of photos eg behind the blue Anglia
Nice show. I am loving those new Volvos as well, S90 and V90 should both be very intriguing.
Don’t hate on that B-body Buick. Depending on what’s under the hood, it might actually hold some promise.
Maybe. But it looks awful…
Looking forward to your article on the Sabra. I’ve always been curious about that car but never found much writing about it.
Any show that goes from an R body New Yorker to a GAZ convertible has almost everything. I say almost, because I am deeply hurt and saddened that none of the Israeli Studebaker faithful saw fit to attend. 🙂
This reminds me once again that I do have a little bit of a flame for the Volvo Amazon.
There actually used to be a Lark that was a regular attendee at that meeting, but was missing last Friday. Here’s an older photo:
JP, that giddy response wins you another Lark photo- a Daytona:
Thank you, kind sir. A Two-Fer even, with the blue 62 in the background. The 2 tone on the late model is something that we did not get here in the States.
But we should have! Two-toning seemed to have fallen out of favor by the mid 60’s but I do like it on that Daytona.
As I’ve posted before, my parents had an Amazon wagon for over 20 years and that no doubt influence me in my choice of first car, an Amazon 2 door. I too occasionally get the flame when I see one, especially as they’ve actually become regular sights in my town again …. Mine was the same dark gray as the one photographed (well, there are actually two different Amazons pictured here, I think different shades of gray as were my parents’ and my cars, though only one year apart). Great photos – and a great show with an eclectic collection that I don’t think could be reproduced anywhere in the US nor perhaps Europe, either.
I’d take the black Cadillac Seville in a heartbeat…
What a terrific show ~ lots of variety .
Thanx for sharing these wonderful pix and details .
Thanks all for your comments.
I promise to find the time and get to that Susita article.
Chrysler New Yorker for me. That other Mopar is so ugly I can’t stop looking at it. There is a category Ugly Truck, maybe there should be a category for Ugly Car.
Great pics! I love the 70s and 80s Volvos. At work I always go for the Volvo trucks for its carlike ride and useabiility, so the big rig is nice too.
Really great work on these pics, and sounds like an awesome show. Love that ragtop Valiant…easily my top pick of the show. Although that Alfa is sweet and a clean P-1800 always grabs my eye.
Im suprised there weren’t any C-202 or 303 Laplanders there. Those seem to be popular everywhere except North America. Easily my favorite Volvo of all time.
Well, the 202/303 were militay vehicles, of which Israel had plenty, and probably much cheaper than Volvo.
Also, I’m not sure the C-303 fit the bill. I think they might have been considered too big. It was more along the lines of the ones in the attached photo:
There is one Laplander in Israel which makes appearances in car shows but it’s a later personal import.
Who doesn’t love a gathering of Volvo’s. A house on a corner nearby has this pristine, unlicensed 240 in his back yard, on display like a piece of public art.
Re the Sabra, take a look at:
Another fascinating car show. Thanks for taking us along, Yohai!
When I visited Israel in 1982 it seemed like Subaru Leones and Citroen GS’s were all over the place and I think I also saw a lot of Autobianchi A112s. How common are these as classic cars?
Also what happened to Ariel Sharon’s Volvo, is it in a museum or somewhere in the wild?
No idea about the Volvo, but these Subarus have a following and a strong club. The Autobianchis do have their fans but less of them survived (those rust anywhere).
Looks like a fantastic show! Such variety–even a Volga convertible! I assume that’s a later customization?
The new Volvos do seem like immensely appealing cars. I wonder if we’ll get the V90 in the US–I sincerely hope so. Way out of my price range now, but maybe once they get to be a few years old… We’ll have to see about the reliability too, as I have a natural suspicion for anything Chinese-owned, but Geely seems to be rather hands-off with Volvo as of yet.
I’m officially not a (old and RWD) Volvo fan, but I have to say the early 244 in bright colours with single round lamps were almost talking to me…..