CCs In Israel: July to August – The Variety Continues

Subaru DL Pickup, Peugeot 306 Sedan, Jaguar XJ, Chevy Van

As it so happens, July’s takings were again low enough for me to add August to this post, in the series that captures any CCs (and other interesting vehicles) in Israel. I guess this is typical of the current COVID-19 world, with less traffic due to a lot more people working from home.

So, on with the video. As usual, if necessary I will elaborate about the findings below:

Starting off with a BMW motorcycle, probably of the R90 or R100 series but could be earlier- obviously, it’s hard to tell given the low morning light, oversized fairing and oversized rider. This remains the best time to capture such classics, before 7:00am and past 9:00am, during which there’s a driving restriction upon “collectible vehicle” in Israel.

Other good times to catch more classics are during Fridays and Saturdays, the official weekend days here, which is when the Fiat 600 was captured. Once again it is staggering to compare a 60+- years-old car with the current traffic surrounding it, especially when it’s a small Fiat. The last time I photographed a 600 in Israel was in 2014 at a classic meeting, and this may well be the same car, only restored since then:

Fiat 600, Morris Minor

Next in the video is a Mercedes-Benz W108, which earns a significant play in the clip. This too was driving early, for the same reasons that BMW above was. MBs were always popular in Israel, certainly from the late 1960s, when anti-German feelings lowered in the general public, and the W108 was sold here from the start. This example is one of those original-import cars, and has survived well. I’ve had a fair share of these W108s photographed throughout the years, and here are four examples for you to see:

Brown Mercedes-Benz W108

Blue Mercedes-Benz W108

Black Mercedes-Benz W108

White Mercedes-Benz W108

Up next is the Mitsubishi Lancer, as it was known in Israel (some of you might remember it as a “Colt” or “Mirage”, depending on the market). This would be one of those forgettable cars, had it not been for two reasons; Firstly, this is the car that demoted Subaru from its pedestal as the local market’s sales’ king, simply for offering better quality and all-included refinements (such as automatic gearbox, power windows and locks, power steering, and air-con) for not much more Shekels- thus changed the local market forever, because if all other manufacturers wanted a piece of the sales’ pie, they had to followed suit.

The second reason is all too simple- Dad had one… This was actually his first new car, purchased in 1989 (and one of the first Lancers to arrive in Israel), this after years of buying used, usually one-owner cars, and replaced a Peugeot 505 1.8 Automatic. Dad was mostly into US iron, but strayed away throughout the years. You can understand the 505’s appeal for him, but the Lancer was way off-base; small, crammed and slow (well, that was never a problem with Dad). I don’t know what or who convinced him to buy it, but it stayed with us some two years and was replaced with a new Peugeot 405 1.9 SR, which was then the highest-specced model in Israel. Dad was very happy with it and until the day he died, claimed this was the most comfortable car he’d ever owned.

I even have a photo of the Lancer alongside the 405, just after Dad received it. Yes, you may notice another car between them, and me trying to mend the crumbling trim with bathroom sealant… but that’s a story for another post:

1974 Pontiac Firebird, 1991 Peugeot 405, 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer

Next in the video is a more recent example of a Jaguar XJ (of the X308 Series)- if you can call an almost twenty years old car “recent”. I would identify it as a Sovereign, born at the turn of the millennium, and I have to say I only included it for the uncanny resemblance to the original XJ. How they’ve managed to maintain that shape for so long is beyond me, but then I guess there was always clientele for that. I mean, they kept it going even after that X308, for almost ten more years with its successor, the X350 series, that still looks mostly the same. But hey, just look at the Porsche 911- that’s been going on for much longer.

We come now to the iconic (yes) Chevy Van. The GMC Sonoma is still going strong in Israel, but this Vandura, as it was known in the country, is rapidly disappearing from the streets. This particular example is probably one of the final batches to be sold here before giving way to the Sonoma, and sports “covers” atop the rear windows, paint-brush finish and a roofer’s logo on the side. Again, a great example of a vehicle that used to horde the streets (relative to Israel, that is) in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, but now gone and almost forgotten.

In the previous post of the series I included a harried Volvo 940, and wrote some words about it, so I won’t elaborate here. But I will include another one now for being quite the opposite, driving wise- “easy does it” would be an accurate description. Not only that, but as you can see it’s a work-horse, carrying what appears to be a dismantled cupboard. How funny it is to see a car that was considered part of the top market when new, and now just an everyday (or maybe even commercial) vehicle. As mentioned before, old Volvos in Israel are highly regarded by their owners and usually, loyally maintained.

Next up is a Peugeot 306, a late model right before its 307 replacement took over. I included it for its sedan body; up until the mid-to-late 2000s, hatchbacks were not the Israeli’s cup of tea, as sedans were the norm, especially in this 306’s class, the small family car. So mostly, Mazda 323 sedan, Mitsubishi Lancer (one generation after the Lancer featured above), VW Jetta and the like would be prime sellers, so hatchbacks like the 306 suffered (at least relatively). It took the importer too many years to finely bring this sedan into Israel, and once it got here- they sold reasonably well enough. I’d have to say it’s really not unappealing style-wise and looks like a shrunken 406 (which is no bad thing), but it’ll never look as good as the hatchback. It’s also one of few sedans that boasts a rear wiper, which you might expect would be deleted on this type of body.

Another Mercedes-Benz in the video is the very successful commercial T1, in pickup guise. I guess these sold a bundle all over the world- at least, the western world, and Israel was no exception. A testament to their ability is the fact this particular example is still a working driver, despite having led what was probably a hard life. Most T1s sold in the country were 209Ds, and varied between all types of body variations; single/double cabin pickups, closed vans or (very popular) windowed van, in which Israeli manufacturers would construct a seating interior, as the T1 was much cheaper to import bare-bone, as a van, and turn into a people carrier locally. And yes, I’m aware the suspension set-up would be very different on these- I’ve ridden enough in these to experience the result of driving over uneven asphalt, caused by the stiffness of the rear shocks that were meant to carry heavy loads, not people. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Red Mercedes-Benz 208D

Next in the video is, naturally, a Subaru DL pickup- I’ve grown accustomed to at least one capture of these per month. To be honest, I see many more but if I’ll share all of them with you, this post will only be about DL pickups! Anyway, here’s another working vehicle supporting a business dealing with blinds and shades, as written on the rear window. A nice touch is the roof-rack that is attached to the fiberglass box atop the bed- not sure how strong all this is to support heavy loads. But maybe, as the writing mentioned is somewhat faded, it could also mean that this DL has been sold off and finished with its working days.

One of my favorites of these captures is the 1982 MB W126 I found whilst driving in a narrow Tel-Aviv street. As far as I’m concerned, this, along with the smaller W123 and its replacement W124 are the best cars Mercedes-Benz ever produced. One can argue about their style, but you cannot deny how modern they feel once you’re inside, decades after they were new. As you’d expect, owners of these cars would hold to them dearly, trying to prolong their lives as much as possible. The owner of this example has enlisted an old blanket to shield its roof from the burning Israeli sun, which also suggests that this is a very much driving example and not parked endlessly- very little dust on the car also attests to that. Some more W126 examples coming your way:

Black Mercedes-Benz W126

White Mercedes-Benz W126

Gold Mercedes-Benz W126

I rarely get to come across a classic Audi, so although the lighting was less than satisfactory, I had to include the B2 80 in the video. These sold reasonably well in Israel, but sadly their survival rate is quite the opposite. Of course, I cannot judge this example’s condition fully, but it looks preserved enough, right down to the hubcaps and trim, which seems to still be all there. This is a 1984 car, minutes before the 80 went through a mild facelift, which resulted in this example:

Black Audi 80 B2

Final car to be featured in the video is probably the best- well, it is for me. I’d place this Dart Swinger either in 1974 or 1975, for not being able to see the front grille. I think the rear-view mirror is mounted off the roof, so it isn’t a 1976. Of course, the Dodge Dart (and Plymouth Valiant) were imported regularly into Israel in their day, and you can read about their history in the country here (Valiant), or here (COAL about my Dad’s Dart). This particular Swinger seems to be a recent import- very recent, in fact, if you take into account the temporary red-on-white license plate, which has “On Test” marked on it. Usually approved service centers are allowed to drive cars that were either imported very recently and need to verify some installment in them, before taking to the road fully, or these could be cars that were kept off the road for years and now, if you want to allow them back, they have to be tested. Anyway, this is not the Dart’s final license plate but if it’s out and driving like that- that’s only a matter of time.

And now for some still photos of two cars I found whilst on foot. Both just happened to be red:

Red Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible

The XJS convertible is of course a recent import, given its license plate and distinctively ugly US 5MPH bumpers. I don’t know if it was restored in the US and imported as such or maybe the work was done in Israel- but it does look stunning.

Red Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible

See the quad headlights? A US Jag alright. As with most classic Jaguars, it looks totally out of place with its surroundings, also helped by the fact Jaguars only started entering the country officially in the late 1990s, so back in its day, this XJS was rarer than a winged unicorn.

The Volvo 240 is a different matter altogether- once an upmarket and local minister’s car, it was certainly common. I’ve written about their history in Israel here, so I will not elaborate again.

1984 Red Volvo 240 DL

1984 Red Volvo 240 DL

Although this example bares a fair share of scars caused by its age, it still drives, which is good to see. The license plate tells you this is 1984 model, and curiously, the owner did not move it to a “collectable Vehicle” category, eligible to be counted as such form the age of thirty (and enjoy a much cheaper tax).

1984 Red Volvo 240 DL

1984 Red Volvo 240 DL

This one has been splashed lovingly with some extras, such as Volvo 760 (I think) wheels and… roof bars. Isn’t it weird to discover that what you laughed about when you were young, now attracts you? I’m growing fond of these tanks as I grow older.

Now for some bonus videos; in July, the Astra had its annual MOT test done:

This is the Astra’s second actual test, as it’s a 2016 vintage and was exempt from these for three years, so the actual first one was done in 2019 . The difference with the previous 2019 test; they renovated the place, so now you don’t need to get out of the car and go to the central office where the relevant documents are being handled- instead, there are booths at each line and a representative inside accepts and issues all documents (you go to the central office at the end of the test, to get the new MOT license). The place is under new management, so perhaps this was due to much-needed renovations but could also be because of Corona-virus restrictions, to prevent contact as much as possible with other people within the premises. They actually were very strict that you’ll keep your windows open and wear a mask- and in the video, you can see most workers were protected. However, when testing for pollution (in which they connect the car to their computer via OBD port and place a sensor in the exhaust), previously they would instruct the drivers to keep a steady 3200RPM, in which many failed to do (I’ve zoomed-in on the relevant monitor whilst the test was on). Now they ask the driver to step out of his car and do it themselves, which is logical considering the experience these testers have, but not-so-good it you take into account Covid-19 repercussions… Anyway, the Astra passed the entire test with flying colors and I was on my way.

Almost exactly one month later, it was the Civic Tourer‘s turn to go under the knife- er, test:

Much of the same, as could be expected. Again I zoomed-in on the monitor during the pollution-test, and again it’s not me at the wheel whilst the gas pedal is being pressed. The Civic passed all tests much like the Astra and lives to use the roads for yet another year. Hopefully, so will we.