Museum Classics: Jesada Technik Museum – Part 2: The Newer Stuff (1960-1990)

Welcome to the second (or third, depending on how you count) part of this series dedicated to the biggest car museum in Thailand. Let’s jump right back in to the fray and ogle some of the place’s most interesting automobiles, with a focus on the ‘60s, ‘70s and into the ‘80s.

We left off the visit with a ’59 Studebaker and zeroed in on the Tatra T600, so continue on a high note with my favourite French marque, Panhard. There were two PL 17 saloons at the museum. The white one is a 1960-62 model, while the green one (technically a “17”, sans PL in front) is a later 1964-65 car. I much prefer the Panhard 24, but seeing a couple of these jolly jelly-beans, with their heavy eye mascara and pouty demeanor, is always enjoyable.

Let’s keep it Froggish for a spell with this fine pair of Hydroëns. The yellow ID 19 is helpfully labelled with its model year, ulinke the later DS 23 next to it. Owing to its flat door handles, it is necessarily a 1972-75 car.

The most arresting Citroën of the bunch, though, was this modest 1962-67 Ami 6 saloon. This one had obviously had a fresh coat of paint and had yet to recover some of its trim pieces. It’s a jarring design, to be sure, but it fit perfectly in this collection of curios.

In a different part of the museum lay a bunch of cars, all from the ‘60s-‘80s, that seemed like they were either recently acquired, or banned from the main museum for some reason. They were parked sardine-style in a poorly lit area, alongside an impressive jumble of bicycles, mopeds and rickshaws, which I will cover in the part three.

And in that zone, there was this fine-looking series 2 Citroën CX saloon (1985-89). Yes, the best CXs were made in the ‘70s and the 1985 restyle bastardized Robert Opron’s flawless original shape, but the dark blue hid some of that.

Let’s explore that purgatory-like area a bit more with one more French car, the amazing Renault 16. This mid-level TS is an early ‘70s model (1971-73, I reckon) with the revised rear lights. I’m no fan of Renault in most cases, but this one was always interesting to me. At least, it didn’t look like anything else on the road. And technically, the all-independent all-torsion-bar suspension, FWD, rear hatch and unequal wheelbases make for a very advanced package.

Close to that Renault lay a wonder from Down Under – a classic Holden EH (1963-65). Well, it was a bit worse for wear, what with that weird B-pillar antenna, dubious exhaust, dodgy taillights and bar-code go-faster stripes. That’s what happens to Aussies who stay in Thailand too long. (I’m kidding of course mates, that’s what happens to nearly all cars that stay in Thailand too long).

Case in point: this well-worn 1959-67 Ford Anglia, with seats that look like they came out of an ‘80s Sega Outrun game cabinet, or possibly a bankrupt law firm. This country really is tough for old bangers.

There was also a bunch of old Japanese iron in this section, as well as the main hall. Starting with this cute little Datsun Sunny B10, which seems like the relatively rare 1st generation “1970 model,” actually built between July and December 1969.

There was also a 3rd generation Toyota Corona (1964-70, this one being a late model). Now there’s a sight for sore eyes. I always thought these were butt-ugly and this one hasn’t changed my appreciation one iota, but it was still in pretty good nick, so someone gave it a loving home for the past few decades.

I’m much more taken with the 4th generation Coronas (1970-73) such as this one. I would even say it’s my favourite Corona bar none. But it’s not the best Toyota, oh no. That would be the 1971-75 Kujira Crown.

Speaking of which, here’s the Toyowhale in all its glory, bizarrely decorated with a Union Jack and sat in the museum’s main hall. But I’ve covered the Kujira saloon already and it’s a big museum, so let’s see what else lies in the Toyota store…

How about this 1963 Publica wagon? Two cylinders (700cc, air-cooled), wads of character, cute as a bug and in good condition too – what’s not to like?

Well, the same could be said about this little Honda S600 roadster, too. It doesn’t just have double the cylinders and a soft-top over the Publica, it also has style, speed and a chain drive. A motorcycle on four wheels.

Here’s one I hadn’t seen before, but was very happy to meet. It seems that what we have here, given the tiny Nissan badge on the rear, is a 1967 Prince Skyline 1500 Deluxe. The final embers of the Prince Motors company, as absorbed that year by Nissan, can be viewed here in all their Gloria (sorry).

Because this is the first Prince I’ve ever bowed to, here’s another couple of photos. Overall, it’s quite attractive, in a very ‘60s, BMW New Klasse / Alfa Romeo Giulia sort of way. Skylines became progressively larger and weirder under Nissan’s tutelage, but they started out right. Reminds one of a number of human royals…

Finally, here’s the summit: two Presidents side by side. The beige one is a 1st generation (1965-73), while the darker car is a 2nd generation (1973-90). The latter can be narrowed down to pre-1982 due to the round headlights. A 3-litre straight-6 was the base option, but both of these have a V8. The older car made do with 4 litres, while the other one came with a 4.4 litre engine. Neither of these is as impressive as a Toyota Century, but still look pretty exceptional.

Let’s stick with the exceptional, but on the other end of the value scale (and of the Eurasian continent) with this most unusual Italian vehicle. The 1956-69 Fiat 600 Multipla is either the biggest bubble car ever made, or the smallest minivan to have prowled the streets. Great use of a rear-engine platform in any case.

While we’re into Fiats, there was a fresh arrival (I suppose) sitting in the reception area. This is a 1961-67 Fiat 1500 – a later model C, if I’m not mistaken. The Corvair inspiration is strong in this one, looks-wise. Next to it is a rather mutilated Ford (that’s what it said on the radiator, anyway) that I hesitate to call a Model A. Well, we might as well carry on with some Detroit metal – and something easier to make out.

A 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle “faux-lice cruiser” – in RHD, no less. How’s this for a dog dish special? Almost (but not quite) your average Chevy from Cars and Coffee. I’m sorry I didn’t manage to shoot the interior of this oddity, but there was another cool bowtie-festooned vehicle next to it that also warranted my attention.

Is there a more beautiful ‘60s American can than the 2nd generation (1965-69) Corvair? Now, there’s a QOTD for ya. Not that the 1st generation is not beautiful and supremely influential, but this one is really the one to have and to hold, till death do you part in a slippery turn, on a dark and stormy night, as the rear wheels try to overtake you.

You might have noticed by now that one of the Jesada Technik Museum’s more incredible features is they have two of everything. Two Nissan Presidents? Check. Two rear-engined Mercedes? Check. Two DKWs? Need to double-check. Two Tatraplans? Czech. Two Panhards? Cheque. Two Checker Aerobuses? Woah! Now that’s a big long cheeeeeeeecccckkkk. This museum is an automotive Noah’s Ark and these are the anacondas. Getting those two to fit in one frame took some doing. And walking around them felt like a Marathon (couldn’t help it).

There was, however, only one De Lorean. Quite fitting for an only child, really. And pretty stunning, if I’m honest. Especially the profile. Designed by Giugiaro, engineered by Lotus, financed by Escobar, driven by Michael J. Fox – if that’s not the epitome of an early ‘80s sports car, I don’t know what is.

But really, the best thing about these is how they have hubris and stainless steel all over them. Built by an egomaniac in Ulster with British government subsidies and powered by a French V6? What could go wrong? That’s how I like my Deadly Sins – sleek, shiny and (heavily) laden with irony.

While we’re in the global oddities section, how about this, er… thing? I’m sure there’s a Jeep in there somewhere, but I wouldn’t bet anything on it. Could be Japanese under all that bodywork. If only I could figure out where it was made…

Let’s get back to some semblance of sanity by way of the Amazon. See, didn’t I tell you Jesada had two of everything? It’s like they want to start a breeding programme or something.

Well, they only had one 1800 ES (1972-73), but what a car! If there are any awards or top ten lists for “Best restyling from an already great-looking car,” surely this has to be a top contender. Volvo really nailed it with this one.

There were a number of British cars present that didn’t make the cut – FX4 cabs, Minis, Morris Minors and the like. Too common by half. This rather tired Jaguar Mk X (1961-66) is represented here out of pity more than anything, and also because I wrote a post on it not too long ago. We discussed how low it was, as I recall. And judging by this one’s neighbours (a ‘36 Dodge and a Volga seen in the previous episode), I’d say it’s very low indeed.

But how low did Humber sink to in the ‘60s? Much lower than Jaguar, by any standard (other than literal height). This is a late model Hawk series IV (1964-67). Just look at this thing, with its pedestrian technology, mid-‘50s styling and DIY column shifter. Looks like a rear-ended Checker cab from behind and a melancholic Tri-Five Chevy from the front. Is it any wonder that the Rootes Group shrank to insignificance less than a decade after committing this?

Ok, maybe I was a bit hard on that Humber. But just compare Humber’s fate with NSU’s. They died out within a year of each other, but the at least Germans tried something new. Like getting Bertone to design a sexy coupé body for their little Sport Prinz (1958-68), then going topless and full-on Wankel. That’s how to get a place in the history books.

While we’re dabbling in Italian-styled German rear-engined coupés, here’s one that is rarely mentioned, yet it’s one of the best: the 1962-69 Volkswagen 1500 Typ 34 Karmann-Ghia. I have a soft spot for this Type 3 derivative. Not sure why exactly – it just looks so crisp and ‘60s. And a bit frowny, too, but in a good way.

This one also had a very nice interior, which as we’ve seen is far from the general rule in this museum. Sure, it’s not much fun in the back, but it’s a darn sight better than in the Typ 14 K-G. The odious VW-Porsche 914 killed off this model, along with the Porsche 912. Shameful, and doubly so.

Two Amphicars, really? You need two of those as well? Wow. I mean, kudos on finding these, but that’s borderline OCD, surely. Well, any collector is somewhat loopy and obsessive, so it comes with the territory. I’m not judging, I’m just trying to understand.

I don’t recall having seen an Amphicar 770 up close and personal before. The proportions are odd, but the oddness makes the car more appealing (to me, anyway). I don’t think I’d ever want to own one, but ride / sail in it? Oh, that’s on the bucket list now. They made just under 4000 of these from 1960 to 1965, but it took them another three years to sell off the last ones. There must have been a drought.

It’s hard to take the Trabant 601 seriously, but this is the least funny one I’ve ever seen. I remember these from a few stints in Eastern Europe in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Those seen in the streets of Prague, Berlin or Budapest were either comically held together with masking tape and rope, or clownishly coloured (or both). This hearing-aid-beige example is as dreary as a Trabi could be. And it turns out it can be very dreary indeed.

We’re almost done – just a couple of final Czechs to run through. This is the Škoda 1000 MB, launched in April 1964 and built until 1969, it was the first in a long line of Škodas with a rear engine. Said engine was a water-cooled 1-litre straight-4, so it looks like Škoda were more inspired by Renault than Tatra. The roof-mounted FrigiKing A/C unit certainly makes this car pretty unique. Styling, aerodynamics and fuel economy be damned – I need me some air-con!

Finally (and this time I really mean it), let’s have an awed hush, please, for this late model (1968-75, or so it seems) Tatra 603. It’s an appropriately massive car, propelled by an appropriately small (2.5 litres) air-cooled V8 in its appropriately wagging tail. Czechoslovakia’s happy apparatchiks (happyratchiks?), secret servicemen and dignitaries were doubtless very proud of this unusually eccentric product of a planned economy – even the Soviets couldn’t make a limo this cool. Over 20,000 were made in about 20 years. I find these rather ugly, but at least they succeeded in keeping a certain V8 streamliner tatradition (ha ha) alive.

Congratulations if you made it this far! I fell asleep halfway through. The good (?) news is: it’s not over yet. This museum’s true oddballs will be featured in part 3, wherein the collection’s huge variety of bubble-/micro-cars will be displayed and discussed. I’m going home with the 603, naturally. Might take that A/C and bolt it to the roof, too. What about you?