Welcome to another edition of this ongoing series about various vehicles found in Israel. This particular post might be low on videoed captures, but I’ve compensated with many photographs, some of which consist of vehicles that aren’t even cars. Now that’s got to be good value for your money!
First, the video:
It starts with a quite a rare sight, at least in Israel; two mk. 4 Fiestas being “delivered” somewhere. The first impression is they’re off somewhere to be restored, and probably the owners have got a good deal on two cars. But I fail to see any license plates, so I think these might have been taken off the road which in Israel, is rather permanent. Then again, one of these could be for spares and one could just have had its license “frozen”, to wait for the thirty years’ mark, when it’ll be able to return back to the road as a “collectible vehicle” (early Mk. 4 Fiestas hit the streets in 1996, so not thirty years yet). So who knows. One thing worth mentioning here is that the forward-facing car has reminiscent of “for Yulia” written on the front fender… Now that’s one hell of a gift.
Next car in the video is a nice original 1971 Beetle in a powder blue, of which I saw plenty of Beetles wear. I wrote enough about Beetles in Israel throughout the years (here’s an example), so no further info needed here.
A bit gloomy in the morning light (this is before Israel returned from DST), but still enough to capture a 1991 Volvo 245 Wagon. When I was growing up, it seemed this shape was always around, probably because it was- Volvo produced and sold the 245 from 1974 to 1993, which makes this featured car a very late model. I don’t think it’s broken down, but probably has to do with that truck working next to it. More about Volvo in Israel here.
Next in the video we come to what can only be described as “strange bedfellows”. Well, yes- you may definitely say that the 1998 Skoda Felicia and the 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix have no relation, but I’d rather assume that this driving in convoy style isn’t accidental. Both are from the same decade, and probably mean different things to their respective parent car company; whereas this first gen. Felicia was the final link between previous Skodas and VAG future, the Grand Prix was… well. The Felicia was a good seller in its day, being a vast improvement over the predecessor Favorite which did arrive in Israel following the demise of the Soviet Union. The Grand Prix was not a bad seller either, more written here.
On to the next car in the video, and a curiously painted 1969 Plymouth Satellite. This one is not a recent classic import, which make up the majority of classics in Israel, but originally sold here when new. Not surprising, as Mopars were well represented and successful in this country right up until the mid-1970s, as written here, even if concerning the smaller Valiant. As is the case with many classics in the small Israeli community, I’ve met this Plymouth and photographed it before in a meeting:
That two-tone paint job, with white partly covering the panels is just about the weirdest I’ve seen, and for the life of me I cannot decide if I like it or not. As if someone wanted a vinyl roof-look but couldn’t decide how to finish it under the C pillar. But hold the phone- this Satellite used to look quite different:
Clearly, the owner saw enough pictures of GTXs and Super Bees, so decided to do something about his Six-driven ride (from my sources). Oh well, his money and all that.
Next on the video is probably the most classic car in this post, a 1959 Cadillac Coupe De Ville, of a recent import, of course. None of these ever arrived at Israel way back when. Perhaps a few units dripped through, but that’s too minimal to count for anything. Anyway, here it is in all its (very lowered) glory, including a brown interior, which I can’t remember seeing on these- it’s usually red, as with this example below (again a recent import but from some years ago):
On to the next car in the video, and at least one Malaise era representative is good for me. A 1979 Dodge Aspen that looks to have survived really well- and it’s not even a recent import but an original sold-here-when-new example. As I mentioned above in the Satellite segment, Mopars of the lower brigade (Plymouth and Dodge) did very well in Israel, especially the A-bodies Dart and Valiant. So, when the Aspen and Volare successors arrived, initially the continued the tradition and sold pretty good- until Chrysler’s doom caught up with them and everything crumbled, as with the parent company in the US. Sadly, Mopars were never to recover to their former glory in Israel (sans JEEP), and you could say these F-Bodies fittingly mark the end for Mopar dominance in Israel.
Still, some 45 years on, some (more than I would imagine) have survived quite well. Here are more examples of these legendry Aspens:
Onward in the video, there’s a nice 1971 VW T2 Transporter. As I’ve previously written plenty about T2s in Israel (example), I’m only left to add this is the first time I see a recent import T2- usually, there was no shortage of these in the local classic market as many were sold when they were new. So, either the local examples are dwindling for whatever reason, or the owner made his\her math and decided that importing one would ultimately be cheaper.
Last car of the video is a classic icon, a 1966 Mustang, at least that’s what the DMV data register says. By now Mustangs have become very popular classics in Israel, and it’s not uncommon to discover examples from time to time. Here are more local examples for your pleasure:
Now it’s time to turn to still captures of September/October and starting off with proof of how much the world (or Israel rather) is small- well Ok, luck had plenty to do with it; in the previous post of this series, I came across a third gen. Trans-Am, which was coming the other way so identifying the model year- or indeed a better view- was not ideal. Imagine my surprise when, one evening, whilst going with my wife to her work’s event in Jerusalem, where should I park but right next to that particular T/A? Life is stranger than you think:
On the right you can see the family Opel Astra- maybe I should have photographed both head-on, for comparison, as we all know how proportions have changed over the years. Anyway, this is a 1988 Pontiac Trans Am of a recent import (of course), as told by the plate. Obviously, the wheels are way too big and the tires look as if they’re holding on to dear life, but I can’t say it’s a bad look on that car. Stupid as it sounds, it’s nice get “closure” on this, and marvel at the circumstances of it all.
The next static capture was found near my home, where there’s a small shopping center and in its car park, you’ll often see cars with “for sale” signs, building on traffic flow that is constant around the area (for a small town anyway). Parked right at the parking-lot’s edge was something really rare:
No guessing… no need to guess. I seriously don’t remember ever seeing one, at least not in Israel:
I didn’t bother calling for the asking price- there’s not enough room in my flat for it… Seriously, this Rebel is tiny however wagon it may be. I also managed to photograph inside:
Wood on the door card, and cut pile carpet on the main transmission tunnel? Ah, such luxuries. Also note the replacement wiper, ready at hand, and another small but significant detail; the clutch pedal has an Autocars logo embroidered on it. Autocars were the manufacturers of the Israeli Susita and had close ties with Reliant in their beginnings and early years. I’d wager there are more than one Susita part in that Rebel, which is nice- Israel’s main car manufacturer to the rescue…
You may have realized by now that I’m a sucker for the “old vs. new” comparison shots. Just to remind us all; On the right is a supermini (Seat Ibiza) and on the left is a family minivan(ish) hatchback (VW Golf Plus). Yes, I know originally the Rebel was based on the three-wheeler Regal so was small to begin with. But just look at this- need we say more?
To contrast the Rebel entirely, here’s something that couldn’t be more different; My mom’s neighbor, who manages to park classics near his house from time to time (such as the Rolls-Royce shown here), parked this thing:
Some cars will always be considered new to me, especially if their predecessors were sort of “there” when I was growing up. The predecessor Ferrari 308 is such car, the Ford Cortina is another- they were already present when I started getting interested in cars. Thus, despite this 1992 348 tb is a true classic in its own right, I will always look upon it as new. Well, “fresh”.
Not the most hansom Ferrari (the successor 355 which was a heavily modified 348 looks much better), but I see where they were going with this- it’s never a bed idea to replicate the flagship (Testa Rossa) downwards, so that the lower-class people (Ha!) will have some aspirations answered.
Thus, give us slats, slats and more slats. There might be more of these here than on a Testa Rossa. This is surly a Ferrari of the 1980s even if this car is post-facelift and an early 1990s example. Obviously, this is a (very) recent import due to the fact no Ferraris would reach Israel until the early 2010s. Being it’s a 1992 model, it arrived in the country just this year, having gone over the thirty year’s mark. In accordance with the eclectic nature of this post, here’s yet another completely different vehicle:
This is a 1986 JEEP CJ-8 and I know, it’s not a Scrambler because where is the rear overhang? From the photo above you can see that it has the long wheelbase, plus the DMV register claims it to be a “CJ-8s”, whatever that means. But I’m no JEEP expert.
Besides the custom accessories these CJs usually have, you can spot a really original one- that chain. And yes, I also notice it’s not locked to anything but itself. Ah, mysteries of the mind… Also, notice that as wide as the wheels are, they’re still not as wide as the fender extensions, which could house yet bigger wheels. After a bit of dry spell not capturing CJs (a previous example here), it has now returned to the series- as has this next car:
I’ve written about this 1982 B.M.W. E23 previously (here and here), as it’s a resident of my town and not far away from me. This is the first time I was able to take a closer look- and I probably shouldn’t have.
I mean, the add-on strip on the bonnet (hood) is curious, to say the least, but what’s with the black sticker joining the front panel with the front door? Not clear. It’s when you start looking closer that you realize this once pristine 728 is on its way down.
When I first saw this car, it was really very nice- just a nice original example of a preserved E23. But living on the street takes its toll on any classic, and this is no exception. Never mind the dull paint or the missing/faded emblems, but now the rust is raising its bubbly head. And you’ve got to wonder what’s going on under the skin. Pity- it was such a clean B.M.W. and although these E23s are not my cup of tea, it’s still a discomfort to witness this neglect and its repercussions.
Now we come to rather different types of vehicles. I was thinking this might justify a dedicated post, but really, I don’t have enough material for this and by now, readers of this series are accustomed to all sorts of input that I bring, so let it be here. We start with an update from the Armored Corps Museum I first wrote about here. Obviously, I will not get into tanks’ history, but just say this is a museum I find myself returning to once-twice a year, having found it’s a really good place to bring my six and four years’ old boys; it’s big but the perimeter is fenced (so they can’t get really lost), the tanks are impressive (and you can climb a few which goes down very well with said boys) and I get to point out interesting stuff to them. Plus, the area is really beautiful with biblical history (so claimed)- in short, plenty to do. My wife isn’t a fan but what can she say to: “Well, it’s not for me, it’s for the kids”… Also, it was my birthday that day, so I basically called it.
The thing about repeated visits to a favorite museum, is eventually you start exploring side exhibits, or areas with no exhibits at all but those that still display interesting vehicles- some of which might even be cars. So off I went to the very edges of the museum, to find a neglected area that looks as though they tried to replicate maybe a training ground (?). Not sure what they were going for, but there were two immortal JEEPs:
One very old Dodge Power Wagon was also present- remnants of these were still being used in 1990 when I was enlisted in the IDF, which is remarkable once you think its AIL M325 successor started going into service in 1970 (and even that was based on the Power Wagon’s chassis). Up until now, nothing extraordinary. But further up the hill, stood this thing:
Over the years, the IDF and its various R&D units developed all manner of weapons and vehicles, so it was clear this is an Israeli conceived vehicle, but which one? And based on what? No info was displayed. Eventually and after outside help, I was advised this is a rare prototype built on an ex-Soviet BTR-152 truck, that was spoils of the 1967 Six-Day war and developed to replace the aging M3. As you can see, it was designed with mine protection in mind, and underwent grueling tests. Almost got the green light, but eventually it was canned following the 1973 Yon Kippur war repercussions inflicting reduced funding. For the interested, use a translator to read more here. I will only add that it amazes me this part of the IDF’s development history is just laying rotting away with not even a sign to explain what it is- especially compared with this:
This is the display of Israel’s main battle tank, the (in)famous Merkava’s prototypes. Look below at its evolution during development:
From top left, clockwise: wooden real-life mockup; Centurion “Shot” front-mounted-engine mule; second, wider Shot mule; and final self-produced (not based on anything) prototype. To have these displayed some fifty years on, in a country where everything that could be used, either in combat or training, was used (or crashed) regardless of historical significance- is remarkable. All it takes is someone who understands its importance to make sure these will survive, and yet, I dare you to find a single Autocars Susita prototype. Sadly, Israel’s automotive culture was non-existant in previous times, so no heritage thus no preservation could occur.
Plenty of other armored vehicles were on site, of course, but I’ll share just a couple more with you:
This is a trench-digging vehicle, based on a Soviet-made AT-T armored artillery tractor, which was supplied to the Syrian army in the late 1960’s. It has the capability of digging a fortifications trench that is 80 cm wide, 1.5 meters deep and 1120 meters long, in one hour of work. A few of these vehicles were captured by the IDF during the 1973 Yom Kippur War on the Golan Heights. The vehicle never entered IDF service. Looking at the very clear truck cabin I was imagining, say, a Chevy C-30 you could “put” atop these tractors. Mysteries of the mind again…
Here’s another BTR-152, in its original ex-Soviet guise. It was used by the Egyptian and Syrian armies, starting from the mid 1950’s until the 1980’s. After they were captured during the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, consequently, they entered IDF service. Several of these APC’s were supplied to the South Lebanese Army (SLA) by the IDF and painted in this color scheme.
Ill finish off the Armored Corps Museum’s update with this main display, visible from atop the Tegart Fort‘s roof- I numbered the different Merkava marks. Currently Mk 4 is in service, and apparently Mk 5 is in development as I write this. As for the photo, note the tiny Sherman tank displayed right next to the Mk 4- I’m sure the curators had their size difference in mind when they parked these two next to each other… Now off to the next venue:
Another place I attended with my elder son was the Israeli Railway Museum in Haifa, which is full of history, given that rail was first laid on this land way back in the late nineteenth century by the Turks, developed by the Brits after the First World War, and operated from Egypt through to Syria and in between. After Israel was formed in 1948, the country took it on and continued maintaining and developing what is now Israel Rail. Once again, this is not the place to write a complete review but here are some of the exhibits that interested me. In few cases I added their respective signs, that included nice period photographs:
Anyone who grew up in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s – and early 1990s – will know this G12 as part of their childhood. Specifically for me, the costal railroad runs about half a mile from what was my home when I was a child/early teen, and I’d go, either alone or with a friend many times to watch trains go by on the un-fenced tracks (for good safety measure…) No way you could mistake the roar of these G12s coming round the bend. This displayed locomotive is painted in a late 1990s/early 2000s color scheme, very near its retirement- out of passenger service, that is. Those can STILL be seen pulling cargo trains today, close to seventy years old.
These G16 mostly handled cargo, and because there were only three, I cannot say I remember them distinctly. But nice to see that the museum’s curators decided to restore this example to its original Egyptian color scheme.
The sign says this is the first Locomotive purchased by Israel Rail, because the previous steam locomotives were all inherited from the British operators, who left Israel in 1948. That’s a great photograph in the sign, by the way; old vs. new at the launching ceremony.
Few other shunter locomotives were also present. I forgo the signs as this could go on all day…:
Remember what I wrote above, as to how Israeli vehicles would serve to their absolute limit, for not to waste any iota of usage? here’s such an example:
Note they even constructed a special step either side of the tractor so to have better approach when boarding a locomotive/wagon. And how massive does the bumper look on that.
Round the back was the restoration area, where sadly, access was prohibited. But at least I found another EMD G12, rusting away and hopefully awaiting restoration. This, I think, is an early 1990s color scheme- there was a time when Israel Rail did not have enough funds to renew their lineup, so all they could do (and did) was to refresh these old G12’s livery.
But the last photo from that day and indeed, this post, has to allow some sort of respect; On the way back from the museum (by train, what else?) I noticed this working away, and snapped it up:
These G26s locomotives entered service beginning in 1971 and still going strong today. This particular locomotive is from 1979. so fully qualifies to be restored and displayed at the museum. But who’d give it up? Thou shalt not waste, etc.
See you next post.