CCs In Israel: January 2020 – From Very Common To Ultra Rare

You should never underestimate anything. After the lean captures of 2019’s final quarter, I was skeptical about 2020’s first sightings. Boy, was I wrong.

First catch of the month was actually first catch of the year, as it was photographed on January 1st:

Yes, the immortal shape of the bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz W123. And as is the norm, here is another classic car that is dwarfed by modern SUVs parked around it.

I’m pretty sure this car is an original that has not been restored, which makes its state remarkable for its age (1983). All trim-parts are present, and I couldn’t see too much rust going on. Of course, the other side is hidden so there could be a disaster over there. Hopefully not.

Of course, some minor defects are present, such as the dent on the rear door, slightly bent bonnet or the lip above the front wheel. But those can be expected dealing with a classic that is 37 years old.

I still maintain the best cars MB has ever made are the W126, this W123 and its successor, the W124. Not without problems, these were made to last and still modern enough inside their cabin so you don’t feel put-out by current vehicles. On with the first video:

The Volvo 740 is a very late model, probably from 1991 or 1992. Most if not all cars arrived into Israel with the 2.0 liter petrol engine, which would probably be too gutless for this kind of large sedan (well, very large in its day). Back in the 1980s this (and the previous Volvo 240) was the state’s choice for ministers’ cars, as the German alternatives were still not easy to swallow. They sold well for expensive cars, and were regarded very highly in the public’s eye. My Dad always liked its square shape and lusted after one, but wouldn’t allow himself as he deemed the 740 too flashy and immodest to be seen in- how times have changed. Later in life, when the S80 was introduced, he said he’d buy one but immediately take a hammer to it and revert its “rounded” shape back to the 740’s square silhouette…

The LR Discovery almost slipped this post, simply because the first two generations look so much alike that you tend not to pay attention when you see one. But this is indeed a first series car, which makes it more than twenty years old- at least. Again this is a good example of a really expensive vehicle (as all LRs are), of which not many were purchased. Still, they were a cheaper alternative for those who wanted the Range Rover which was out of reach for, well, almost anyone in Israel. The Discovery (affectionately referred to as “Disco” among enthusiasts) and of course, the Defender have a large following in Israel so despite this first generation car’s rarity, the ones you catch are maintained properly by faithful owners.

Whilst on my way to collect the heir to the throne from his day-job (or maybe kindergarten), I barely caught a glimpse of a first generation Ford Fiesta, coming the other way- no doubt its green paint has it stand out from the gloomy winter afternoon. As I’ve written before, in the 1980s this was a very successful car in Israel, well before the onslaught of Japanese and Korean armadas, which pushed aside most European marks.

And of course, you could not do without the random Beetle, as this one was parked leisurely one Friday morning on an industrial estate I was driving in. As is the norm with Beetle owners nowadays, this one has also been improved with accessories such as go-faster wheels, and also (I think) new halogen/LED-based headlamps.

Now, I haven’t forgotten about the Alfasud in the video. Why do you think I parked there?

This yet another example of how CCs could sometimes live right under your nose- this Alfa is parked about 300 meters from my home, but I never noticed it, which would probably stay like this had it not been for a simple turn right instead of going straight. But as I myself have written in previous posts, nowadays classic cars parked at curbs can only be found on back streets in small towns such as the one I live in, so I should have known better, I guess.

Clearly this Alfasud is being used, if irregularly. Judging by the dust and road marks under the car, I’d say it moves once a week, give or take. It is one of the late ones and sporting the very much lusted-after Alfa Sprint wheels, which undoubtedly enhance the car’s looks considerably.

Yes, some rust is beginning to take hold in the usual places, as can be expected with an Alfa Romeo of the period. I think this car has not been restored, which makes its condition even more remarkable than that W123 above- both cars are from 1983, but don’t forget this is an Alfa. It certainly looks much better than the other Sud I captured in September. Nevertheless, I feel that if it’ll continue to park on the street like that without some rust preventive measures, deterioration will certainly occur with time. Maybe its owner should contact the very active Israeli Alfa Romeo Class Club for advice, as I haven’t seen a the club sticker anywhere on the car.

But now it was almost mid-January, and I came across something very special- possible my best capture yet:

Crossing paths with a Renault 5 Turbo is a rare occasion wherever you are, and usually happens in classic car shows/displays/meetings. Crossing paths with one in Israel, where none was sold officially in its day (the local importer didn’t want to know), is almost science fiction. But bumping into THIS particular Turbo 2 is even more special, being that it is one of two cars that were imported privately into Israel back in 1983, of which this one managed to survive. I’ve heard stories and rumors about this car for years, and would never think I’d see it on the open road like this. And it’s not like I haven’t seen a 5 Turbo before, even in Israel:

But this one is a new import, arriving to the country in recent years, already restored and ready to be displayed in car meeting- but not much else. The videoed R5 Turbo 2 (a series two car, as its name and age suggest), is an original “Israeli” car, obviously still very much alive and kicking. I personally love the giant rear flanks, undoubtedly necessitated by the mid-engine layout, but also very 1970s racing-cars’ style, reminiscent of the Group 5 racers which were very loosely based on production cars (as is this car). I have to say, this one has made my day, and I suspect would be hard to top for some time.

Back to your everyday CCs; Much like the 740 above, this 1985 Volvo 240 Wagon was relatively popular despite being pricey. The wagons weren’t as popular as the sedans, but it wasn’t a big thing spotting one now and then- not surprising since the 200 series was produced forever, it seems. Today there a large classic following after these cars in Israel, as you can see here.

The Peugeot 106 Rallye has a large following in Israel, its handling capabilities adored by owners maintaining a very active club. This one, though, has gone somewhat further than the minimalistic approach that was the original 106 Rallye, having had its original white-painted steel wheels replaced for a wider alternative, and also lowered. Owners continue to enjoy their cars, that belong to a by-gone “handling is king” era in PSA history.

I suppose had it not been for the Renault 5 Turbo, this 1966 Ford Mustang would probably be the star of this post. As it was a Saturday, undoubtedly it was on its way to a classic meeting. Contrary to other recent imports that were never brought to Israel when new, the Mustang was here right from the start, being that Ford once had a very active and successful presence in the country. How they have fallen is remarkable; the non-commercial cars they sell in Israel are the Kuga, Edge and Explorer- surprise surprise, all SUVs. As for the Mustang, many originals have been joined with new classic imports so there’s no shortage of these in any car meeting you might stumble upon in Israel.

Another PSA product that was successful in Israel was the Citroen AX, and much like the Fiesta above, here is a car once very popular, and now very rare. This is a post-facelift, mid-to-late 1990s AX, of course bearing the unavoidable dull paint virtually any PSA from the era would suffer from, especially those with red paint or similar (as this is). But the rest of the car looks fairly OK and it obviously drives regularly, so I suppose it’ll continue to live as long as it will be dear to someone. Oh, you can consider the photo-bombing Malibu overtaking in the fast lane, as bonus…

It seems each post has its own Subaru DL (Leone). This time in Wagon guise, which wasn’t all that popular in Israel- the sedan sold much better. This one managed to obtain the precious Subaru alloy wheels of the period (wagons in Israel never sold with these, only two-doors). Also, I have yet to fine a wagon that has NOT got roof-racks installed- for some reason, they all do. Oh yes, and the privacy curtains are a must. Again these appear on most wagons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these tasteful items were installed on this car when it was new.

In a previous post you’ve seen the Chevrolet Optra Sport– I now give you the regular toned-down version, which of course is really a Daewoo Lacetti. Since I wrote about it in that linked post, I won’t elaborate further than say it has a vibrant color.

A mile down the same drive and a Mitsubishi Lancer appeared. A very popular car in its day and essentially replaced the aforementioned Leone/DL as Israel’s best seller, because it was miles better than the parallel Subaru. It was marketed in the country as “Super Lancer”, to make sure Joe public would be able to differentiate it from the previous generation Lancer (As if there was any doubt). Also, the importers had a large shipment of that previous generation to get rid off, so they were sold along side each other. Things got rather comical when the importers got even more ingenious and decided to import and sell the previous-Previous generation Lancer (known as Champ in some markets). Mercifully they just marketed it as Champ, but eventually what you’ve got was three generations of the Mirage/Colt family derived Lancers, selling side by side. Kind of hilarious.

The second-generation GMC Sonoma was added to the post so you can marvel at its driver’s stupidity, doing a wide u-turn from nowhere and nearly taking out a Suzuki SX4. Lovely.

Last car of the video is a very rare Fiat Bravo, that sold in Israel with low numbers. For some reason Fiat in the country could never do better than the Super-mini class, so only the Punto sold in nice numbers. Neither this Bravo (3 door) or its sister Brava (5 door), or even the Marea (4 door sedan) weren’t popular, hence its rarity today. Actually I would expect the Brava to have survived better, as it sold marginally better being it was more practical. However, I think the Bravo has much better styling, especially at the rear as apparent here (I was driving the Astra which lacks rear dash-cam so no frontal view of the Bravo).

And final image of the month is this tasty 1975-1977 Nova, coming into the tire shop near my work. Note the different wheels front to back- I suspect irregular sizes going on so maybe the owner was there to correct this. Up close, the matte-black finish is undoubtedly not paint, but wrapping, which (I hope) is a stop-gap on the way to correct the state this car was in before:

As I mentioned in previous posts, in such a small country you’re bound to meet a certain classic more than once, and it’s no different with this Nova. The above photo was taken in 2015 in a classic meeting. It would probably make more sense to deal with rust issues before wrapping, but clearly they haven’t, judging by the boot-edge above. And thus ends January.