CCs in Israel: October-November 2021: Everything From a 1950s Sedan to an Armored Personnel Carrier

It’s time again for another bi-monthly update of CCs and the like from the holy-land which, as usual, includes dash-cam outtakes and some still photos.

First off, the video:

Previously in this series, I used to say that I’d always find some sort of a Subaru, which in no surprise considering how loved this brand was in its day (and yes, a few of these crawled also into this post). What I didn’t expect was to stumble upon almost the same amount of Volvos, which is ironic if you consider the difference between those two brands, certainly back in the 1980s. First car in the video is a Volvo survivor from 1995, and is registered as a 944. Volvo’s role in Israel was discussed here, so I’ll end this here. Not to worry, undoubtedly more 200/400/900 series will come my way soon.

Heading out of my town one Saturday, and next to me pulled up a 1995 Peugeot 306 XSi, a very enjoyable hot hatch of the 1990s. I used to own a same model year five door 1.8, and although it was a lower spec XT, it was still an extremely capable car, especially through turns and bends. I don’t know if there ever was such a communicative chassis with such direct steering in an affordable package that was the 306. You can clearly see the driver throwing the XSi into the turn and is rewarded with tons of fun. In fact, I maintain these, along with the 405, were peak Peugeot and could not be bettered without loosing character (as indeed happened with the next generation). However, it must be said they were very brittle- gone were the days of tough 404s/504s, that you could not kill with a stick; electrics would crumble, engines would develop cracks and pistons would fail, not to mention breakable interior plastics- I should know. But if you were up to it, no (affordable) car would bring you more joy than these.

Onward in the video to a first of several firetrucks I encountered these past two months. Actually this Mercedes-Benz 2638-based firetruck has earned the right to appear here, being 25 years old. These crane-type firetrucks are less used in Israel, hence its old age- they are not being replaced commonly. Still, you’ll find one in most large fire stations, that cater large towns. And in the next video segment you can see the most common type of firetrucks, as I turn out of this industrial area that is near my work; Maneuvering into its parking is a much younger 2011 M.A.N. TGM 15.290, in the most common firetruck layout. Even if  younger, it’s still a ten years old truck.

Next up is one fine Camaro, a 1980 if I’m not mistaken. I believe I know this particular Camaro from its previous life, when it used to belong to a family relative who has immigrated to the US a long time ago. The car, which stayed behind, had been off the road for a long time, undergoing a Pro-touring transformation. Apparently it is now in the process of returning to the road, and is wearing a temporary white “on test” plate, which is the custom for vehicles that have been off the road and maybe had some technical changes. It now seems to have been transformed further into a more Pro-Street look, with oh so loud giant exhausts (I’ve left the sound in for your pleasure). Weirdest thing about it is the large sticker on the rear spoiler, which translates to “Age of Gas”- this is a business for converting petrol based cars to LPG enabled, and something you might not associate with a sporty rendition of a classic Camaro. Than again, this might just be an advertisement for the business, applied by someone related to “Age of Gas”. whatever- I’ll gladly capture any second generation Camaro especially with that audio.

Another morning, another Volvo- a 1989 744. I must say, even through the light rain and the low dawn light, its excellent condition shines out- it looks absolutely new. As it’s riding on a “collectible vehicle” license, it might have undergone major restoration, but from my experience, these Volvos generally only need a good amount of TLC to be faithful, so it might just have been treated to a nip and tuck- hard to believe that in over thirty years, no maladies ever came to this car (or any car, for that matter). This ties in well with the next car in the video, a same model year 1989 Subaru DL (as it’s called in Israel- Leone in other markets). Subaru’s importance in Israel was discussed well enough here, so instead let me bring up a point that never dawned on me until watching the 944 and the DL in this video- they’re very similar. I mean, yes, the rear window is different on both these cars as the Volvo unit is vertical, of course. But setting aside the different proportion (because of different sizes), they both “square off” the same. The 700 series were introduced in 1982, whilst the Leone was in 1984, so you know Subaru had the time to be influenced from Volvo. Was it really the case? We’ll never know, but the possibility is there.

Next in the video I caught up with another armored corps convoy, this time hauling three Namers; Merkava-based Armored Personnel Carriers (APC). The IDF has had a long history of these conversions, varying from Centurions, T-54/55 (captured during wars with Arab neighboring countries), but also making good use of the very familiar M113 APCs. All of these were becoming too old and unsafe for their occupants, especially in light of armor piercing weapons. On the other hand, old Type 1 and 2 Merkava tanks were being withdrawn from service, so as these still had much better protection compared with the (yet older) APCs, a plan was instigated to convert these into modern APCs, and that’s what you see here. I’ve also left the Volvo FH tractor pullers in for full effect, and notice the last track in this segment (slow-mo’ed), a tire monitoring & inflation system connected to the Volvo’s wheels. More on the Namer can be read here.

Next up we have probably the best CC of this post, a 1959 Chevrolet Biscayne- at least, this is what the Israeli DMV’s open database returns. It’s a recently imported classic, which is no surprise since I’ve never seen a Biscayne in Israel before. There were some Impalas running around, but those that I’ve seen were well into the 1960s. The featured car boasts a copper paint and alloys much larger than originals (that still manage to be swallowed by the wheel openings). The whole experience of meeting a car from such a (now) distant past is absolutely riveting. I might have included in the video the conversation I had with my five years old son, that was with me in the car- he was duly impressed, especially by those “bat wings” on the boot (er, trunk). How sad it is that you don’t get to see such cars driving around anymore, not in Israel anyway. Lastly, this one bares the ugly reflector strips that are mandated for all vehicles produced before 1995, and maybe it “needs” them- did rear light clusters include inner reflectors back in 1959?

Off to work on a gloomy morning, I met up with yet another firetruck, and if I’m carrying a theme here, I might as well include it. Also, this one is again not as young as you might think, and has well passed the twenty year’s mark. It’s a Mercedes-Benz series 1234, and was born in 2000. Actually, from the back these could all be same age- it’s only from the front that you suddenly find yourself calculating decades…

A day later, going home, I captured another Mercedes-Benz- the immortal W126 S-Class, a 1985 380SE. I’ve discussed plenty about the W126 here, so I won’t elaborate further. But I must say, this is a first for me, seeing a trailer on a W126. I mean, I’m sure people use these to tow whatever, but this is most uncommon in Israel. It does look good in this Nautical Blue, that fits the car perfectly.

Last car of the video is a 1992 Mitsubishi Lancer- just about ready to be turned into a “Collectible Vehicle” and enjoy a much reduced tax (but in turn, be forbidden from driving between 7:00-9:00 AM). Amazing that this is almost thirty years old now, as I will always remember when my Dad purchased one of these new in 1989. But I wrote all about it before, and you can read it via the same link for the W126 above.

Now lets move to the static CCs of this post, starting with this 1997 Suzuki Vitara:

1997 Green Suzuki Vitara

1997 Green Suzuki Vitara

The next Vitara generation actually started in 1997, so I guess this is a late production car. This particular one is lavished with mod-cons aimed(ish) at off-roading, but I would hazard a guess that its hard terrain days are done with.

1997 Green Suzuki Vitara

It’s parked close to where I usually park when at work, so I often see it- these photos were taken when the days were still sun-swept, so the owner didn’t bother attaching/raising the canvas roof (hood).

1997 Suzuki Vitara Interior

And if you look inside, you’ll see the anti-theft device that is the steering lock. Well, figures you’ll use it if you choose to go convertible- I didn’t try it but possibly the doors weren’t even locked.

1997 Green Suzuki Vitara

A look at the back had me thinking its hood was possibly trashed altogether, hence the exposed hood frame- but once the first rain was upon us, I did see it with the roof fully on, some days later. All in all it’s an almost bona-fida CC, being used regularly and as such- doesn’t look half bad.

I did promise you more Subaru, didn’t I? Here’s a 1991 pickup:

1991 White Subaru Pickup

1991 White Subaru Pickup

1991 White Subaru Pickup

No doubt about it- this is a working vehicle (a painter’s tool of sorts). I’m always amazed at how resilient these Subaru pickups are, being used for decades upon decades. Looking at this you get the feeling it’ll still be working in ten years’ time.

1991 Subaru Pickup interior

1991 Subaru Pickup fascia

The bumper’s over-riders are long gone and the Subaru emblem has lost its silver, but no matter- it does its duty. As for the plate, it’s not riding on a regular license, which has it paying regular MOT tax, which is a lot compared with collectible vehicle license. In turn it can drive any time and not be restricted between 7:00-9:00 AM. But that’s still plenty of tax money for a classic car- and it is.

1991 White Subaru Pickup

One last look from the side; although this pickup has sunk a bit since new, you can still see the original stance created by the raised rear, which always made me think of Hot-Rodding. Funny, because when these first arrived in Israel back in the early 1980s, the only similar thing you could buy (and had, well, similar roof lines) was an El-Camino. In a small market that was Israel, the Subaru soon took over from anything else (discussed in a link above).

Now for a personal fleet update- it’s the Civic Tourer again:

Honda Civic Tourer Rear Bumper

Honda Civic Tourer Rear Bumper

Someone who’s identity shall remain hidden (but let’s just say she wasn’t me) has managed to reverse the Civic into a low post. I can only imagine the horror that befall upon that poor reversing sensor, and never mind the irony of the matter. And yes, they do work and are not defective.

So off I went to a place specialized in bumpers and plastics’ repairs. I left the car with them for the night, in order for them to dismantle the bumper, re-shape and paint it. When I returned the next day, the Civic was ready and waiting, even washed:

2015 Honda Civic Tourer

Plastic Bumpers

Plastic Bumpers

I took a couple of photos of the shop, but really there;s nothing fancy- plenty of used replacement bumpers are about, and further inside you can see the painting room. As for the result:

2015 Honda Civic Tourer Rear

2015 Honda Civic Tourer Rear Bumper

As you can see, there’s nothing to see- the bumper was returned to its original state and they also tried to do something about the loose trim at the front (from an old injury)- they glued it and had me promise to remove the tape after another 24 hours:

2015 Honda Civic Tourer front bumper

They even used the paint leftovers to cover ugly black scratches that decorated the front bumper. Looks much better:

2015 Honda Civic Tourer

‘Till next post, have a merry X-mass and a happy new year. Lets hope this wretched COVID-19 thing will start easing off in 2022.