CCs In Israel: December 2020 – Some French Surprises

Red Kawasaki ZX-10, White Simca 1100, Grey Mercedes-Benz R107 300 SL, Maroon Simca 1501

Last post of the “CCs from Israel” series from 2020 (which I personally would be glad to see behind me, and not too soon) actually turned out to be more fruitful than its predecessor, encompassing three lean months. The selection captured in December isn’t vast, as the traffic I’m driving in was still affected by COVID-19 repercussions, but this time, I think has much more CC quality to it- not to mention two (!) Simcas in one month? That’ll be the day, and it is.

On with the video:

Don’t linger over the first car, the ultra-rare Simca 1501. This was captured while reversing once I’d finished taking enough still photos- more below.

At the moment of writing, Israel is again under strict lock-down, but earlier in December we drove north for the usual Mom/Sister visit. Coming off the motorway, I stumbled upon a classic car convoy heading further north for what is undoubtedly a meeting (those were severely restricted once Coronavirus took hold, so I seriously doubt meeting up is wise nowadays). You can see the regular attendees, seen before at such meetings, like the MB R107s (recent imports with American-spec bumpers and fascias). But also a Simca 1100, once very popular in Israel and now almost extinct (my Grandfather had one throughout the 1970s, which replaced his Simca 1000), plus what I identified as a Plymouth Cranbrook, but is a Dodge Meadowbrook (I wasn’t far off), complete with go-faster flames. After taking the turn, in the opposite lane I saw more classics such as the 1950/1 Chevy pickup, late 1970s C3 Corvette, Morris Minor, Lincoln Continental Mark V, (what I think is an) SSK replica by Gazelle, Mercedes-Benz W114 and just out of slow-motion, a Lancia Thema- quite a collection of vehicles.

Same day, on the way back home, a nice VW T2 Westfalia was overhauled (not really a challenge, as you might expect). This is one classic I’ve seen and photographed before:

Creme VW T2 Westfalia

Creme VW T2 Westfalia

As with Beetles, these T2s are very popular in Israel, and are part of the Air-Cooled Club I mentioned in a previous post. Through an app which connects to the Israeli DMV’s database, you can lookup license numbers and get (very) few details of cars in question- if the info exists in said database. Usually, old classics are not in this database so imagine my surprise to find this T2 with almost nothing but its year of birth, which is 1969.

Next classic in the video is an MB R129, but contrary to the previous R129 I captured in the last post, this is an early model car- and looks like it (did they all come with this dark gray color?). Again, with the help of the aforementioned app I discovered this MB was born in 1992, so just one year short of a “collectible vehicle” license. By the way, plates bearing numbers ending with “00” mean this was a private import back in the day (they don’t use such a sequence anymore).

I’ve added the Kawasaki ZX-10 for its extreme rarity in Israel- possibly this is the only example of its kind. The license plate tells me this is another private (and recent) import to the country- not surprising, as Kawasaki only arrived into Israel no earlier than 1994, and the this ZX-10/Tomcat is probably a late-1980s bike. I think it looks gorgeous, and regarding the styling, maybe ahead of its time- it certainly marked the road to other sporting Kawasakis in that area.

Second favorite of mine in this post is this Peugeot 404 Pickup that’s been turned (much like the Sonoma in the last post) into a small-time movers’ truck. Again you can see the high cage setup I discussed before, which easily offers room for two washing machines one on top of the other (what this will do to its “handling” is entirely irrelevant, I guess…). Judging by its load, I’d say this one is less of a mover and more of a scavenger, collecting thrown-away household appliances. Again I turned to the DMV-data app, and found out the license plate isn’t lying- this is indeed a 1986 vintage. This to me is a mystery; by 1986, the 504 Pickup was well and truly established in Israel, and although you could undoubtedly see enough 404 pickups around, most of them were from the 1960s and 1970s. Either this is a very late/”surplus” production car, or someone managed to license an older car as a new one in 1986 (very difficult to do, even if you had the appropriate connections). This one looks ratty enough, but the fact this Peugeot is still a working horse (albeit low-keyed) congers up yet more respect. I sort-of drove one in the early 1990s, when working at my brother-in-law’s stage & setting construction business, and the experience was as you’d expect from an old, crumbling, neglected pickup that’s well past its heyday. I say I “sort-of drove one” because I was seated near the driver on the bench and doing the manual shifting with the column stick- it previously broke and you needed two hands to operate it. So from the driver’s point of view, this was maybe an automatic 404 Pickup (the clutch pedal still needed to be pressed, granted).

Last car of the video is the 1971-1973 Mustang, and as usual with these, a late import and licensed as “Collectible Vehicle”. I have to admit I don’t care much for the bloated Mustang, even less so convertibles, but of course, I fully understand their appeal- they still look impressive some fifty years on (and certainly much better than their pinto-based successor).

And now for my favorite of the month, the Simca 1501:

Maroon Simca 1501

As the DMV data app did not discover anything, I did some digging, and found out this is a car from 1975, the last year of production, and was completely restored in 2006.

Maroon Simca 1501

Despite being quite the conventional car in its day, it wasn’t a big success in Israel, hence its extreme rarity in the country- maybe it was too big and/or too expensive. Certainly, this wasn’t the case with smaller Simcas, which were much more successful. As a result, it’s rarer than rare, and any example you might see will be a restored and preserved example, rather than a well used CC (such as the Peugeot 404 Pickup above).

Maroon Simca 1501

You can’t get much more three-box-shape than this, can you? Still, it might be a bit bland and that rear overhung is just OTT, but I find that on a whole, it’s styled pleasingly and I find myself liking it.

Maroon Simca 1501

Maroon Simca 1501

I particularly like the attempt to maintain a Simca family resemblance, mostly apparent in the front and rear fascias. The front looks very much like the 1100’s, and the same can be said about the rear lights, despite the two cars being very different. You can read more on the Simca 1301/1501 in Roger Carr’s post and more recently, Tatra87’s post.

And thus ends December and indeed, 2020. May the next year be much (much) better.