The last classic meeting I visited and reported here, got my taste buds going. I used to go to such meetings on a weekly basis- every Friday afternoon, to be exact- which is when these occur (most of the “example” photos I post in my articles come from those meetings). Having two kids in a space of three years, plus being an involved father (I never had that myself so decided to become one), plus COVID, meant less time than usual and when there WAS time there was not enough strength… Thankfully, now the kids (6 and 3 years old) are much more independent so their mother can handle both with ease. To make a long story short- time to go to another meeting, and hopefully yet more in the future.
The most natural candidate for a visit was the Israeli Five club’s main meeting, which always takes place in the vicinity of greater Tel-Aviv. For years they used to hold it in the parking lot of a very central basketball arena, and I attended many meetings, such as this one. But since then they changed venues frequently until I lost track. Cut to the present and whad’ya know, the current meeting point is about ten minutes’ drive away from my home- very convenient. It’s a laid-back “cars and coffee/beer” sort of meeting. So, on the previous Friday afternoon off I went to check it out.
But what is the Five Club? It is Israel’s premier classic cars’ club, set up in 1985, and was the first home for classic car lovers- back in those days, it was the ONLY home available. The club doesn’t differ between marks and, certainly at its inception, couldn’t do so because of small number of classics in Israel at the time. Since then, many classics were imported in recent years to enlarge the then-narrow market; this is also due to persistent club representatives’ pushing for legislation to set order in a very legally neglected area, as this hobby used to be nurtured only by small number of individuals. Thus, the laws concerning import of classics were instigated in the early 00s, as well as the “Collectible Vehicle” status that is marked on classics’ license plates. Besides meetings, the club holds annual trips, events, etc. They have earned their accolades but at the same time, got some cold shoulders from classic owners claiming the club has become too self-centered, too “elite” for its own good. thus, meetings like this one (where no obligation to be a member of any club is necessary to display your vehicle) came to be.
But what about that name? Well, at the time of the club’s formation, twenty-five years’ old cars (the first Israeli classics, if you will) were all with five-digit license plates (six digits started in Israel in 1960, and new cars are registered with no less than eight digits since 2018). Hence- the Five Club. Here’s a good example:
As you can see, this 1951 Plymouth Special DeLuxe has five digits, and also the “Collectible Vehicle” written underneath them. This was taken at said meeting, which, although somewhat thin, still hosted the usual eclectic gathering that is a defining character of Israeli classic meetings. Let’s get the photos rolling, I think I’ll post those as they come, according to time of photography- you’ll get a sense of discovery as you walk through the event:
These first three photos are somewhat hazy because I was stupid enough to mess with my Olympus OMD-EM10’s HDR settings. Note to self: next time, just leave it in “off”. So far, nothing special although I will revisit two of these later, and notice the lovely faded dark green so fitting the bulbous Cadillac.
Once upon a time, the Peugeot 205 was just about everywhere, even the IDF would use them as junior officer’s rides. This is a 1995 “Forever” model, adorned with stickers, emblems and paint touches variously (and in my opinion, unnecessarily) that were added by its owner. It does continue the eclectic nature of the meeting.
A nice little Falcon arrived on the scene, and attracted my camera lens’ attention. It’s abut to park, so lets head back to the display:
Two more regulars (as I remember) were parked alongside each other, representing the Seventies so much- even if both really belong to different eras. The Beetle is from 1972 and the MGB is from 1980- but with that brown color it has no choice to be part of the previous decade.
As the Comet reversed into a spot, I recalled this 1962 Mercury was captured and posted before. Looking through that post, I was reminded this is a regular of these meetings, and I’m glad it’s holding up well throughout the years.
Two recent imports were parked facing each other. The 1976 450 SL obviously arrived from the US, whilst the 1972 Lancia Fulvia’s origins are a guess. It is, according to its license, a new arrival in Israel whereas the Merc could be in the country for as long as fifteen years. Now lets see some Corvettes- there’s always at least one in every meeting, and on this occasion, there were several:
As you can see, several generations were present. Here are some C3s:
The two C3s above are from 1971 and 1974 and are regulars at this meeting (especially the Orange ’74), but there was another one on the premises which I’ve not seen before. A new immigrant?
All of these cars are recent imports, of course. There’s a fine joke that circulates within the commune which says that of the three C3s that were imported into Israel back in the Seventies, over a hundred survived… There’s an even greater number than that in the country, if you also count the C4s, of which I will show you now:
This Blue 1984 C4 is of course another new import and is a very early car of this generation. Aside for some few scuffs, it looked in fine fettle.
Behind the Corvettes’ was a row of Cjs/Renegedes, two of which are shown above. But then another 4X4 joined the lineup, and that was really special- and very rare:
As I draw near, I overhea the owner; this 1984 Diahatsu Scat is actually an original import, and is one of only ten units that arrived in Israel to test the waters, as the local Daihatsu representatives looked to see if it could be a market contender. Back then there was actually no direct rival, as the CJs were much more utilitarian and the Suzuki Samurai was smaller. Nothing came of it, but of those ten only this one example survived.
Off to the side, at the edge of the parking area, more classics were about:
Two Volvo representatives were present, a 1966 Amazon and a 1980 245. And here again is the 1951 Plymouth from a slightly different angle, just because I like it so much:
It really is beautiful, and once again I’m baffled as to what I’m drawn to as I get older. Or maybe it’s just the color…
Here’s another new import (although “new” is relative as this, according to the license plate, is some fifteen years in Israel)- a 1963 Buick Skylark convertible, possibly with the aluminum V8 later sold to Rover and powered countless BLMC products. Had to include the interior, which could use a good clean and basically that’s it.
Three high-end motors were also parked at the side area, all are of different nationalities and ages. Which would you choose?
Two gorgeous Fiat 1500 convertibles were at the meeting and looked stunning. It’s a good thing that one arrived with a hard-top installed, as it clearly shows just how beautiful the car looks without it, demonstrated with the blue 1500. The red 1500 led me back to the main display:
I arrived at what you could say was a collection of Brits. The E-Type needs no explanation, but the 1982 Ford Cortina Estate (an original import) is even more rare than the Jag, being that it’s practically extinct in Israel, whereas more and more E-types were imported in recent years.
“Three little maids from school are we”… Those MG MGAs were pristine. There’s a fine classic MG community in Israel, and these MGAs plus that earlier brown MGB undoubtedly are part of it. You can read more on that here and here, in a two-part post I did some years back.
The red V12 E-type and the Renegade stood next to each other. Talk about strange bedfellows- one couldn’t be taller, and the other could be lower. Well, maybe opposites do attract. But as I turned round, I saw two people sitting inside an engine bay:
Looks like it, doesn’t it? For those a bit confused, here’s a side view:
Turns out this 1971 Triumph Spitfire 1500 belongs to the old(er) chap, and the girl is his granddaughter. It was great to watch him explaining and showing her the ropes of a classic car. Later they rounded the display and he continued to remark at various points of interest on the cars themselves. She was genuinely interested, which was refreshing- not too many young teenagers attend these meetings usually, so great to see the next generation of classic car lovers forming up. And here’s the Spitfire in all its glory:
Yet another red two seater sports-car attended the meeting, and of course, it’s an Israeli 1963 Autocars Sabre. The Reliant-derived car heralded a lineup of basic Glass-fiber bodied, basic transportation that was the pinnacle of Israeli passenger-car production. The Sabre was never the big seller, as sales leaned on the bread-and-butter products, and those were shoddy and backwards from early on. Some say the entire Autucars/Susita operation was doomed from the start, and that Israel should have invested in local production of established manufacturers. Kaiser, for instance, were assembled locally- had the country invested more down that route, buying what Kaiser Industries sold to American Motors in 1969- who knows what might have come from that.
Of the three photos above: You’ve got to have at least one Mustang per meeting, and this 1969 Convertible is the prime candidate; Yet another Merc, this one is the R129 SL and looks meatier than usual; but it’s the 1988 Allante that caught my eye, as this rather non-default choice for a classic Cadillac starts to appear in meeting more and more, as people importing “new” classics discover them (Allantes never sold in Israel when new).
For some reason these were quite a few Mercedes-Benz C126s at the meeting. One might argue this is the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz’s styling. No doubt it’s the essence of elegance. As the silver-blue SL was leaving, it was rounding another Cadillac. this Cadillac:
This 1968 Cadillac DeVille Convertible is a regular of this meeting. This and the other Deville (from 1970) shown above, is what I meant when I wrote “default classic Cadillac”, as people would be attracted to them rather than the “modern” Allante.
This E30 M3 does look impressive, certainly with that yellow on- but in fact, it’s not a real M3 as the original was introduced in 1985, and this is a 1984 model. Besides, there’s always the Israeli MOT’s records to fall on, and this M3 is registered as a 318… Never mind, it’s still looks impressive. Hopefully, they upgraded the power unit as well.
Now as participants were starting to leave, and the light was fading, here are remainders of other classics at the meeting:
Two very same era Mercs were also present; the 1969 maroon W115 is a (relatively) common model of which there were many when I was growing up; but the 1970 dark green W109 is the flagship 6.3-liter SL, and as impressive as they come.
Two very chalk and cheese cars were the 1982 New-Yorker and the 1981 911. I’m not really a Porsche man, but if I had to choose… well, maybe there’s no comparison really.
Yes, even THAT is acceptable at such meetings. This Chevy Van isn’t even all that old, as it’s from 1992. But in the small classic commune that is Israel, everything goes. And as this post is also winding down, I want to revisit two cars again:
I mean, to me this 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood is just perfect, its color and the fact that it’s not pristine as it usually would be. This is another change that local classic owners are undergoing in recent years, understanding that a classic can still be viable even if it’s not aspiring to be at show-quality.
I will probably always have a soft spot towards the Dodge Dart, probably because of my dad. As per that post, 1971 Darts are my preference, but this is not far off and just one year before the ugly 5 MPH rear bumper joined the front one, which destroyed the lovely fascia of 1970-1972 models. But beggars can’t be choosers, so I’m picking this one as my favorite of the meeting.
And to finish off this post, I’ll leave you with this 1982 Beetle, that, much like the local classic commune, has contradictions; it’s a very late model but looks much older than other VWs like it, it bears the original paint but fixed with all manner of non-related color patches. But much like the 1955 Cadillac, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Could Mustang be 1968?
Could be, but that’s how the MOT’s database sees it…
Lots of good stuff there, but I am especially drawn to the ’51 Plymouth and the ’55 Cadillac, two of my favorite cars of the first half of the fifties. I’d be hard-pressed to make a choice between them.
Yohai71, this is a great collection.
I too am captivated by the 1951 Plymouth. Not just because I’m old, but because my first (bought used) car when I was in high school was a 1953 Chrysler. The shape of Chrysler’s cars in that era, which were designed under the management of Chrysler’s K.T. Keller, were considered “stodgy” by most of the contemporary car buying public and were reportedly only liked by old men who wanted to wear their hats while driving.
But even without first car reminiscing, if you are going to spend money buying and maintaining an old car, maybe that car should look old as well. Any Chrysler car from the end of WWII to 1954 would be perfect if you’re looking for “Old” with a capital O.
The 1962 blue 2-door Comet is also a strong reminder of my own (bought used) 1961 blue Comet 4-door in which I tried and failed to teach my first wife to drive stick. These cars, which were basically stretched American market Ford Falcons, were nicely simple, easy to work on, and good low cost and economical transportation. But the strange tail lights of the earlier models were an acquired taste.
And the engine access of the Spitfire is just wonderful!
It’s always fun to see your posts.
I’ve always heard about Studebaker-Ilin cars & trucks being assembled in Israel, have you seen any survivors? I have a photo of a Studebaker-Ilin made 7-passenger extended wheelbase taxicab, and I wonder if any survive today. [see photo]
Only a handful survived. In all the years I’ve been going to these meetings I only ever saw four cars. Two Larks:
And one Daytona:
A broad survey of cars over the years, many in their original condition, allows one to “drink up” the various colors and textures of paint that were popular in different years, on different cars. The greens and beiges, and those ‘80s Mercedes cars just have to be either black or some sort of muted metallic, don’t they?
Nice collection but this is what shows look like here masses of recently imported exotica and not enough locally sold new classics, the regular cars that people really drove around in carefully manicured patina is getting old fast and genuine beatup classics are hard to find, everything is getting restored to better than new.
Great collection! Yes, that ’51 Plymouth is extremely eye-catching. I do think the color helps quite a bit. I suppose that apple green color must have had a slight blip in popularity around that time, since I recall my father mentioning that his first car was a 1950 Olds 98, also in apple green.
I find the Cortina Estate very interesting too. First, I’ve never seen one in person, but also like you mentioned, it’s probably this show’s rarest car.
And I’ve got to give a cheer for the Chevy conversion van. Definitely won’t lose that one in an Israeli parking lot!
Im drawn to the Sabra, a pretty and distinctive car with an interesting back story. I see one sold at Bonhams Scottsdale fro $40000, with only 700 miles on the clock’. I wouldn’t go too fast looking at that rear wheel camber.
That looks a great way to spend a Friday afternoon. Mercedes 350SEL 6.3 is truly tempting, the Fiat 1500 Spider just glorious, the Dart calls me too…
That Buick Skylark may have given its engine to the Rover SD1; it looks like Rover took inspiration for the SD1’s dash, with the instruments in a box on a shelf look, from there as well
My Mother learned to drive on my Grandfather’s 1951 Chrysler Windsor, only car he was to own. She actually probably taught him, as he’d never previously driven, bought the car new partly to help stock his mom/pop grocery store…not all suppliers delivered. My Dad (before he met my Mother) bought a new ’56 Plymouth Plaza, no options except maybe a heater.
I’d actually heard of the Saber, through Tad Burness’ Auto Album, which featured his hand drawings of cars…I gave my only copy to my nephews, who promptly destroyed it, but from memory there were 2 cars in the panel, with the headline “2 RARE ones from the Middle East”, but I don’t remember what the other car was. I’ve never been to the Middle East, nor have seen one, but I guess the RARE is the operative word. The other RARE car he featured was a ’60 Edsel, but at least I knew what an Edsel was.