CC Global: The Curbside Classics Of Estonia – Tallinn Tales

Editor’s Note: The recent Curbside Classics of Baghdad has prompted another international submission, so we’ve created a new category: CC Global. This comes from Richard Dilks, who recently visited Tallinn, Estonia. We’d love to see Curbside Classics from your part of the world or the places you visit. If you’d like to put together a collection of pictures with some accompanying text, please send them to us at curbsideclassic (at)

To twist a quote from ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’, I’m a longtime CC reader and first-time CC writer.

Here in the UK, CC is often my lunchtime respite. Obviously, it has started seeping into my consciousness outside of lunch: While tootling round Tallinn last weekend, I found myself not only taking in the cars amidst the architecture, beer and cake, but snapping them as well. So here goes; a weekend’s random ambling round Tallinn, brought to a screen near you.

First up we have the clean-lined glory (and dodgy electrics) that make up the Peugeot 405. Although the rain was just a little intense when I snapped this, body rot hasn’t seemed to have set in. There’s a bit of me that just longs to get one of those and lope around in it. And there’s another bit that really doesn’t want the electric window to stick down in that rain.

Moving on to more humble and aged steeds: our first Lada. OK, this is a photo of a photo; in fact, of one taken 12 years ago.

A change in venue and automotive furnishings is evident in the next photo. A place where dirty snow and a beaten Riva had lingered just 12 years ago is now all pristine vines and organic chocolate.

But what’s this? Round the corner, I find ancient and modern smack next to each other—an actual Lada Riva, crude and reliable as ever, next to a Nissan Box (Writer’s note: ‘Box’ might not be the actual model name).

Clearly, the demise of the Soviet bloc has not prompted Estonians to dash out and buy new Ladas. A trip to the excellent Museum of Occupation explains why (by the way, this is the only museum I’ve ever visited that depicts both Nazi and Soviet evils side-by-side). These Gazes look rather cute now, all polished up and quaintly curvy–but then you realize that even as new cars their technology was hopelessly outdated. The one on the left, for example, apparently has a 1920 Dodge unit up front and a just-prewar rear axle. In the ’50s, it must have been  oh-so-desirable and sold only to a lucky few–small wonder Stalin had an armored Packard.

But enough of the proles. What do those further up the pecking order drive? Perhaps this trusty Merc W115.

Or this lovely-condition SL, which peeks ’round an ornate corner.

Or this 993 911, just as fetching as the church it’s parked outside.

Maybe one hardy achiever is still tooling around in this Daimler. For their sake, I should hope it’s not the troublesome V12 version, but considering what they’ve done with the wheels, I actually hope it is. What ruination lies beneath those gorgeous lines.


Perhaps they’re not doing the driving, but being driven. I giggled when I first saw this, but when you think about it, what better stretch than a Lexus LS400?

But let’s get real. If you’re making serious cash, you want something just a little bit more modern. Out of a fair numbers of Range Rovers, Panameras (is there a more hideous machine?) and even an Escalade, I picked this nastily blinged Bentley Mulsanne as typical of the breed. New tarnish on an old badge, for me anyway.

But surely Tallinn–as a mixture of East and West; of German, Swedish and Russian occupation; of independence and European Union membership; as a bridge between Scandinavia and Russia; and as a damn fine place to spend the weekend–surely, can Tallinn not do better?

Yes it can. Just look at this Pontiac Executive, a gaudy shark lurking on a side street.

As you can see, I couldn’t resist snapping it in all conditions. To end with another film reference, it spoke to me of an early-teen memory, from GoodFellas, in which Ray Liotta’s character’s Pontiac Grand Prix is shown parked outside his lover’s apartment as night turns into day.