Kurbads transports Opel Commodore – 60s answer to the American muscle car

In collaboration with Normunds Avotiņš, Kurbads continues its series on exclusive, collection sports and vintage cars. This time Kurbads transported Opel Commodore. Initially, this car travelled from Sweden to Estonia, where it arrived in the hands of a restorer, who took care of the car, restoring its engine, transmission, and mechanical parts. After the restoration, we transported the car to its new owner, taking it all the way to the Netherlands.

A muscle car from Opel? Sounds like a red herring dipped in honey. Yet the familiar German auto maker wasn’t always as conservative as we’ve been accustomed to. During the 60s and 70s, Adam Opel AG experienced its Golden Age. In 1962, the production of a completely new model of Kadett began in the newly built factory in Bohum. Along with the brand’s home in Rüsselsheim, for years it symbolised Opel’s industrial ambitions, at one point manufacturing half a million Kadetts per year. Unfortunately, the legendary production plant, which once employed 20,000 people, was closed in 2014.

 

The Scent of Succes

The “big three” of the Opel models of the time were Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat, also known as KAD. They were respectable, pretty, powerful and profit-making cars. Their design and setting was undoubtedly influenced by the American trend (after all, Opel was the property of General Motors). The more expensive Diplomat even had a V8 engine. Opel was arguably the second-largest German auto maker after Volkswagen.

Historic car transportation - Kurbads

 

Excellent base – Opel Rekord Series C

As they were riding the wave of success, Adam Opel AG’s chief engineer and technical director, Hans Mersheimer created Opel Rekord Series C, a conventional spacious sedan whose appearance was deeply affected by Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette – the American muscle cars of the 60s. At the same time, the car had a modern suspension structure, extensive improvements in passive safety systems and reinforced bodywork. Rekord Series C became the most successful model in Opel’s history, producing 1.2 million cars by 1972.

Historic car transportation - Kurbads

 

Six-cylinders in a Commodore

So what does all this have to do with the Commodore? It emerged, because Opel’s management had ambitions and yearnings for profit, so they decided to offer their buyers a more expensive and seemingly prestigious car with the same technology. Rekord Series C had a two-door version of Coupe available since 1967, including a 2.2-liter row six-cylinder engine. However, the six-cylinder “record” sales never amounted to much, so it was decided to split the most powerful modifications from the underlying model and give them a new name. That’s how Opel Commodore came about in February 1967.

Historic car transportation - Kurbads

 

 “Bullit” + “Coca-Cola” = Commodore?

The “oberklasse” model’s only distinction was essentially its engine, since the base model of the Rekord Series C had only four cylinders as of the summer of 1968. The Commodore was produced both as a sedan (with either two or four doors) and as a coupe. They even tried to develop a top-class universal prototype Voyage, however they never succeeded past the conceptual phase. Amongst enthusiasts, the Commodore A and its progeny are mostly associated with Gran Turismo and a muscle-car mix according to German tastes, and of course the fastback coupe in the bodywork.

Historic car transportation - Kurbads

 

What is “2.5 S”?

The vehicle transported by Kurbads is the standard Opel Commodore A Coupe model with a “2.5 S” – a 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine and a moderate 115-120 horsepower capacity. Its vinyl roof and black superstructure decor supposedly point to a “high-capacity” version GS, yet there is no evidence that the engine has two, rather than one carburettor, thus also more power. Opel left this to Commodore A “2.5”.

All in all, this car has had three owners. The restorer of vintage cars purchased it in Sweden, and restored the original parts of the engine, transmission and most mechanical parts. Interestingly, sedans and coupes were released in roughly the same numbers, around 70,000 each, however, the rarest one is the Commodore two-door sedan.

Kurbads has transported the fully restored car to the Netherlands.

Historic car transportation - Kurbads

102nd car carrier bears the image of Kurbads, son of a mare

Impacts of the pandemic

Without knowing how the pandemic would affect the company, Kurbads had paused with acquiring new additions to its fleet at the time. This year, however, the company has planned to replenish its fleet with eight more car transporter trailers. The first one to complement the company’s powerful fleet is its 102nd car transporter trailer. It is adorned with a symbolic image – that of Kurbads.

kurbads 102 car carrier

 

Kurbads’ energy helps the company

The car transporter trailer is adorned with the stylized portrait of the Latvian mythological strongman Kurbads. It was chosen, because Kurbads’ energy has been with the company all these years. So it only makes sense that this image should represent one of its carriers. It is believed that the character created by the writer Ansis Lerhis-Puškaitis was uncannily strong, and he had received his energy from both, the heavens and the earth.

The design of the trailer, as always, was done by the artist Alfrēds Paulausks. He admits that creating a character without knowing how he looks, was a difficult task. “Thanks to the visualization of the artist Ieva Kauliņa, who depicted the image of Kurbads in the rock opera “Kurbads – Son of a Mare” by the rock group Skyforger – the dead Latvian superhero Kurbads was revived twenty-five years later and can now be seen on one of the car transporter trailers. I realized I wanted to go a bit further and portray him so realistically that he would come out of the plane and look you in the eyes. I hope I have succeeded in this task,” said Alfrēds Paulausks.

kurbads 102 car carrier

 

Vehicle transporter with a mission

The leadership reigns of the 102nd car transporter trailer were given over to driver-expeditor Māris Purvēns. Māris was not randomly selected as a driver for the vehicle transporter company Kurbads. Māris has a mission to train new drivers in Latvia and Germany, where the Kurbads branch was recently opened. He has acquired his experience on the roads of Latvia, as well as those in Europe. Māris is able to inspire the young champions not to give up and dare to start their careers as drivers.

kurbads 102 car carrier

 

Top-class Mercedes Benz Actros

Ivars Čiblis, Head of the Service is very pleased that after taking a break for a year and a half, the company’s fleet has now been replenished with a new car transporter trailer. “The Kurbads model is the Actros 1848 L nR produced by our company’s favorite manufacturer Mercedes Benz. This vehicle has an improved 5th generation brake system, a modernised Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), as well as an improved technical equipment package “Climate Package”. It has an improved noise and light level class, as required by the new European directives,” says Ivars Čiblis.

He notes that the new vehicle has a pneumatic cab suspension, as well as an electric sliding sun visor for driver and passenger comfort. This vehicle also has a large cab, as it is intended to be used in training new drivers.

kurbads 102 car carrier

 

God speed and we’ll see each other on the road!

Kurbads Delivers First Mink Campers to its Customers

Campers on vehicle transporters

We noticed that little yellow insects had taken over our vehicles. We are talking about the compact, modern Mink Campers, equipped with everything you need for a great vacation. Even though they seem to be small from the outside – a couple with a child can easily relax in this teardrop-shaped camper. These campers are suitable for those who are unwilling to bring their entire household with them, but want to enjoy the comfort of all the basics that they need. The camper is equipped with a small kitchen with several USB ports, and a large bed equipped with the Bose audio system and economic LED lamps. As you sleep in Scandinavian linen, and cover yourself with warm mink blankets, you can gaze at the stars through the roof window and enjoy your favourite music.

Camper transportation - https://youtu.be/QiO5xWHgOJA

Mink campers

 

It gives you an opportunity to move closer to nature

These campers are favoured by travellers of the Nordic countries because they are suitable for cold climate and are heated with the autonomous heater “Webasto”. You will find these campers in the north of Scotland, in the Scandinavian countries, and even in Iceland. In the future, you will most definitely see these campers not only on the roads all across Europe, but also around the world, as the “less is more” lifestyle becomes more and more popular.

Mink campers on car carrier

 

Ready for Challenges

We are pleased that as a vehicle transportation and logistics company, Kurbads can take part in the transportation of new and unseen vehicles. In addition, we appreciate that campers developed by the Icelandic company are produced in Latvia! It is our joy to help and receive wonderful feedback: “Thanks a lot for the excellent service and professionalism of Kurbads. Our first campers are on their way to their new owners! God speed to all your drivers! Thanks and enjoy the holidays!” Respectfully, Andra Zvirbule, head of the production unit of Mink Campers.”

Kurbads transport campers

Kurbads opens a branch in Germany

Vehicle Transportation and Logistics Company “Kurbads” has opened a branch in Germany – in the land where the company began its work at the outset of its foundation. Germany is the land where initially we had to wait in line on the border sometimes for days to transit from the East to the West, and it was back in the day, when we could scarcely imagine that one day Europe would be open to all, and that it would provide Kurbads with the opportunity to call it its second home.

 

Expanding logistics opportunities in Europe

The opening of the Kurbads Logistics Centre in Germany is the next step for the growth and development of the company. This project is implemented to expand the company’s opportunities in Europe, as well as to develop the Kurbads brand in Germany. As Andis Pikāns, chairman of the board of Kurbads put it – this will give us an opportunity to be closer to our current business partners in Germany, and it will open the doors to new ones.

kurbads car carrier and office

 

Work of Latvian craftsmen in Germany

The German branch “Kurbads GmbH” will be housed in Genthin, a town close to Berlin, located at strategically important crossroads right next to the A2 motorway. The centre will house a logistics base, a warehouse, an office as well as resting facilities for drivers. It should be noted that the office facilities, which have been built using modular construction, were made in Latvia by a company that specialises in wood design modular building development. We are very proud to have Latvian craftsmanship represented in Germany. Special attention should be paid to the entrance door and the facade, where you can see a wood crafted panno with the ancient Latvian symbols of power, which Kurbads holds in high esteem.

Kurbads office in germany

 

Exterior from hundred-year old boards

This panno is a true piece of art – its author used hundred-year old boards from Latvian farmhouses scheduled for demolition. We are particularly pleased not only about the visual result that brings joy, but also about the reuse of old materials. Ivars Sedlenieks, chief of “KSD kompānija” Ltd. was the author of this project: “It was challenging, because the principles of modular construction were used in the construction of a more sophisticated facility. In the interior and exterior fittings of the modules we used fir – a specifically designed wood; all the doors and windows were made from uPVC Rehau profiles with triple pane glass. The terrace was constructed using the Siberian larch whose resistance to weather conditions is significantly higher than that of any coniferous trees that grow in Latvia.”

Kurbads office in germany

 

A quarter of a century has passed!

In August, the Vehicle Transportation and Logistics Company “Kurbads” will be celebrating its 26th anniversary. Over the course of a quarter of a century, we have acquired experience to tackle new heights in new countries. We are therefore looking for drivers-expeditors to join our Kurbads team to work in the new branch in Germany. It is your opportunity to become a part of a team of highway warriors, as well as to work with the transportation of the best vehicles in the world!

kurbads car carrier and office

Kurbads transports a Czech classic – Škoda 1200

The conveyor stood next to army trucks, its dimensions were fit for an ambulance; this doesn’t sound exactly like perfect conditions for manufacturing a good-looking car… Škoda 1200 has a clear, intelligent design, and it proves the opposite.

In cooperation with Normunds Avotiņš, Kurbads continues its series on exclusive retro and sports cars. This time Kurbads transported Škoda 1200 produced in 1955. This historic car traveled from Finland (https://koskinimport.com/) back to its country of origin, the Czech Republic.

The reputation of Škoda’s branded cars is as simple as a multiplication table – they are durable and reliable, and they can be purchased for a reasonable price. In most cases they are rather good looking, but rarely exceptionally beautiful. This however is the case of Škoda 1200 from the 1950s. The car is not a luxury model, but a consumer product “for workers and families”. At least that was the original idea.
The post-war years were grim for Škoda. In February 1948, the Communist coup pushed Czechoslovakia into the bloc of socialist states, under the “care” of the Soviet Union; with all the resulting consequences. Planned economy separated the automaker from the pre-war industrial conglomerate Škoda Works and transformed it into AZNP, or Automobilové závody, národní podnik. (Car Factory, State Property).

 

A design that inspired Ford

The design of the new model was undertaken by AZNP’s chief engineer, Vladimír Matouš, and designer Josef Velebný, who counts in the Škoda company as no less of a legend along the likes of Béla Barényi in Mercedes. There is little doubt that Škoda 1200 designers inspired 1949 Ford, Fiat 1400 and most particularly the 1947 Kaiser Special. The prototype was completed in 1949 with a factory number, and it immediately stood out for its fashionable pontoon bodywork look, fitted with eight screws unto the backbone frame that had once been developed by Velebný, this time from steel.

Škoda 1200 - kurbads

 

Škoda 1200 and the ambulance

The first complications were set up by the government’s order that required that ambulances be manufactured along with the sedan and the universal. The original 2485 mm wheelbase turned out to be too short for patient transportation, so AZNP offered an extended version of 2785 mm. This solution, in turn, was rejected due to costs, so a compromise was finally reached – 2685 mm or 20 cm longer than the prototype. Due to the extended wheelbase, Škoda 1200 was elegantly proportioned, so in essence the car became more beautiful because of an ambulance. In many ways 1200 was a pioneer. It was the first Škoda that used a winding tunnel to clarify the design, the first with hidden door hinges and immersed door handles, and it was the first Škoda with normal rather than suicide doors hinged from the rear.

Škoda 1200 - kurbads

 

Additional challenges from the government

When the technical challenges were finally overcome, the communist government intervened, ordering… to stop the development of Škoda 1200 and to dismantle some of the equipment already installed. The reason was the intention to transfer it to Mladá Boleslav for the production of Tatra 660 Tatraplan, thereby freeing up production capacity for the production of the army car Tatra 128. The first Škoda 1200 rolled off the conveyor belt on July 11, just a month after the Tatra gamble. Only sedans were produced in Mladá Boleslav. According to the VIN number, the dark red copy transported by Kurbads was made there as well.

Even though it may seem hard to believe, the Czechoslovak government tried once again to sabotage the production of Škoda 1200. This time, the focus was the army truck Tatra 805 (something similar to Soviet GAZ-66), designed to mount in parallel to the sedan.

 

A car on par with those in the West

As you can see in the pictures, Škoda’s 1200 front seat is one-piece. Since the car came out relatively wide, the gearbox lever is on the steering wheel; and thus the sedan actually has six seats. An interesting feature is the windscreen, which consists of two parts. Although the technology at the time allowed for the production of a one-piece windscreen (the proof is a panoramic rear glass), Velebný leaned in favor of a two-part windscreen due to better aerodynamics.

Škoda 1200 - kurbads

Škoda 1200 is not only a rather appealing looking vehicle for the Soviet bloc countries, but also a symbol of non-violent resistance against the Soviet-imposed system. With intelligence, creativity and cunning, the Czechs managed to create and produce a car on par with those in the West, which despite its weak engine, was durable, economical, and drove well. Since the car turned out to be too expensive for the average Joe despite the initial plans (300,000 Czech koruna or 30,000 after the monetary reform), it was purchased by 74 (!) individuals in 1953.

 

G5M Hurricane RS – A high-performance sedan par excellence

 

In collaboration with Normunds Avotiņš, Kurbads continues its series on exclusive, collection sports and retro cars. This time Kurbads transported G5M Hurricane RS – a 900 horsepower G-POWER monster that makes every BMW fan’s heart skip a beat. It reaches 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds.

Even though you may think we’re dealing with Bugatti Chiron, we’re talking about BMW 5 Series. It was born out of M5 F90 and it was equipped with larger turbochargers, original control block software, a titanium exhaust system and some delicate aerodynamic improvements. G5M Hurricane RS challenges the world’s best supercars – and even manages to overpower some. Its maximum speed limit is set at 350 km/h, which is more than Ferrari’s 488 Pista, McLaren’s 720S and Lamborghini’s Huracán Performante.

What is G-POWER?

Not so long ago G-POWER was a little-known term unlike AC-Schnitzer or Hamann, not to mention the blue-green uber BMW plant in Buhloe-Alpina. Yet the roots of G-POWER go as far back as the 70s. The company acquired its current name in 1983, but it started booming in the mid-90s, along with the change of ownership.

BMW m5

Since 2007, G-POWER has been located in Aichach, Bavaria. While the firm’s specialty is power-raising with various types of forced air supply in addition to the development of their own control blocks and software, in time G-POWER started focusing on producing aerodynamic kits. Experts and fans could not let slip by projects along the lines of X6M TYPHOON (750 hp) and the legendary Hurricane series that we already mentioned M5/M6 Hurricane RR (800 hp). You need both, guts and knowledge to add two compressors onto the BMW V10 engine, and to get it all to work in sync.

 

How many horsepower?

The car transported by Vehicle Transportation and Logistics Company “Kurbads” crowns the current series of Hurricane models, which includes endlessly seismic cars of the fastest 2 and 4 Series BMW. GM5 Hurricane RS is so special due to its extensive interpretation of maximum power. Various sources mention different numbers – 830 hp, 850 hp, however the final iteration of the all-wheel drive charge shows 900 horsepower and a maximum torque of 1,050 Nm from the 4.4 liter V8 engine. G-POWER are not too bothered with redesigning, preferring technical know-how, but the Hurricane RS is a special car even for them. For an additional cost, it can be fitted with a carbon-fiber motor cover whose form is determined by special air openings. Although the exhaust system is closed by 100 mm diameter nozzles and the exhaust gas recirculation elegantly “blasts”; in switching moments, the magic of G-POWER sets in, and it brings about a symphony of its typical malevolent turbo-charger exhalation.

BMW m5

Is it expensive?

Powerful things are never cheap, and once the German specialized engineering gets involved, it becomes a whole new ballgame… A BMW M5 (or M5 Competition) “donor” needs to add €6,000 for turbochargers, €8,500 for the titanium exhaust system, and €9,500 for the 21″ wheels together with tires. Additionally, wrapping in metallic orange film could add another €3,800, while the racing style and weight bonnet could add another €5,000. Repainting G5M matte orange would probably cost twice as much.

BMW m5

Kurbads transports legendary Alfa Romeo Alfetta Gtv6 2.5

Kurbads in cooperation with Normunds Avotiņš continues series of articles on exclusive sports cars collection.

 

The client chose the vehicle transported by Kurbads rather accidentally: “I dreamt of Alfa Romeo for a very long time”. Historically, Alfa has stood out for its design, and this model – GTV6, particularly, with its V6 engine. Thus, choice of the particular car was related to car history and its minimalistic design. The car was bought in Finland, and, with the help of Kurbads, transported to Riga.

Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 2.5 – a Giugiaro masterpiece with a legendary engine.

Four European champion titles, a role in a James Bond movie and a lousy gearbox – can you think of a crazier CV?

Alfa Romeo cars have always made the hearts of enthusiasts beat faster. Reasons may be various – from exciting design to nervous shivering, when hearing noises pointing at damages in mechanisms, where the genius of Italian engineer meets divine ignorance of repairs.

 

ALFA ROMEO – EXOTIC AND COMPLICATED

The Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT and GTV became, to a certain extent, a transitional period between the plump “alfas” of the 60s still living in post-war trends, and the switch-over to the rational front wheel drive platforms of the 90s. The car’s chassis is, so to speak, a living legend – rear wheel driven, with gearbox installed in the back (transaxle principle) and rear brake discs inside or next to the gearbox to reduce the unsuspended weight. The exotic, complicated construction was focused on one goal – balance and controllability.

 

Alfetta GT design, created by ItalDesign, was a real revolution within the context of the 70s, for example, compared to the model it was based on. Alfetta was technically constructed on an ordinary 1972 Alfetta sedan, but those who did not know it would never suspect these “alfas” of having something in common. The Alfetta body type – fastback coupe – was not the classic shape of a sports car from the 70s, mainly because it had a comfortable backseat. Moreover, there were even opening side windows at the back, actually, the third closest to the middle roof stand. One could almost imagine that Alfetta was ahead of the time by becoming an early sports hatchback with foldable backseats and similar features. However, it takes just opening of the Alfetta’s boot lid to find that this is not the case. Between the unusually spacious boot and the interior, fuel tank rises like a wall, whereas the very originally arranged pneumatic lid lift, situated in the middle, prevents removal of the boot lid. Despite its minor oddities, the Alfetta was considered a quite comfortable car.

alfa romeo alfetta kurbads

 

ALFETTA GT VALUE – THE LEGENDARY V6 ENGINE!

If the Alfetta GT had stuck to four-cylinder engines, this Alfa might have gone down in history as a cute and, quoting CAR magazine, “adequate” sports car. However, in 1980, along with a restyling, the Alfetta GT was equipped with a 2.5-litre V6 engine from the Alfa Romeo 6 and became the “Alfetta GTV6 2.5”, which is the car in the pictures. Despite the fact that the engine was not supposed to share the front part of the car with the gearbox, it hardly had enough space under the hood, because Alfetta was a relatively small car (4.26 x 1.65 x 1.33 metres). Since there was not enough space, the GTV6 got its own “trademark” – a hood with a hump and a plastic lid right above the injector housing, since the capricious carburettors were replaced with Bosch L-Jetronic injection system in GTV6. It did not make the car more economical or reliable, though. In one of the Gran Turismo series, Jeremy Clarkson explains that the plastic lid is necessary for the GTV6 as a cheaply-replaceable part, for when the intake housing hits the hood due to backfiring. This legend may have resulted from imagination, just like the method of keeping the clutch pressed by using a broomstick to avoid the clutch disc fusing to the flywheel. However, like the majority of Italian cars, the GTV6 definitely had its own sins, too. It is widely known for clumsy gear switching, as evidenced in a striking exchange from the same TV show:

 

– What was your experience with the second gear?

 

– None. I did not find it.

 

However, this did not prevent the GTV6 from becoming a cult classic. The car became a coupe of world-famous celebrities in 1983, when another movie about the adventures of secret agent 007 – “Octopussy” – came out. Although the GTV6 was not really the service car of Mr. Bond, the two-minute car chase scene with Roger Moore sitting at the wheel of a stolen Alfa did a better job than every commercial in the previous ten years combined. Suddenly, everybody wanted a GTV.

 

GTV6 – UNSTOPPABLE IN RALLY AND MOTOR RACING!

The unusual coupe boasts an impressive motor sports career. The GTV6 won the title of the European motor racing champion ETCC four times in a row (1982–1985), but Yves Loubet triumphed with this car four times in a row in Tour de Corse, Group A. Thanks to motor sports, to be more exact, to homologation requirements for the South African market, a small number of GTV6 models were even manufactured with a more voluminous 3 litre engine and a special hood with air intake.

 

ALFETTA INTERIOR CONFIGURATIONS

The model transported by the vehicle transportation company Kurbads belongs to the post-facelift generation. A cluster consisting of three “clocks” and the “trinity” of liquids in the centre of the panel does not so much as suggest that the GTV6 has ever looked differently. In fact, the Alfetta GT and GTV have had at least three different front panel configurations. The most bizarre was probably the one with a separated tachometer behind the wheel and the remaining meters in a separate block in the middle. The light “leather” interior causes a misleading impression of luxury, while, suprisingly, the textile interior was considered to be more sophisticated. Eventually, GTV6 comes from the era when plastic furniture started to gradually replace chromium-plated decorations. A driver’s seat height adjustment using a telescopic pull-out lever is a touching ergonomic artefact of Italian cars.

Alfa Romeo Kurbads

 

LIGHTNESS AND POWER – FEATURES CHARACTERISING ALFFETA GTV6

The real reason why people desire the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 2.5 is the engine. One hundred-sixty horsepower gave the car charming dynamics (it stormed from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.8 s, and Vmax reached 212 km/h) and fantastic sound. Starting the car on cold mornings is something like a religious ritual to this day since, despite the German injector, the early models were equipped with a pull-out choke. The stiff gearbox in the rear made funny noises and filled the body with strange vibration. However, that all vanished as soon as one was lucky enough to tame the clutch, switch into first gear and cross the starting line. If there was a “Busso V6” (from the legendary engineer of Alfa and Ferrari, author of the 60-degree block V6 motor Giuseppe Busso), then nothing else mattered anymore.

Kurbads on Fiat 124 Sport Coupe

In cooperation with automotive journalist Normunds Avotiņš, car transport and logistics company “Kurbads”launches a new series of articles on exclusive, collection and sports cars. We are pleased to  present an article on the Fiat 124 Sport Coupe.

What would a “zhiguli” coupe have looked like? Car transport and logistics company “Kurbads” had the chance to transport this classic -the sports car of the head of the 70’s family – Fiat 124 Sport Coupe.

The car, dubbed“the affordable beauty” is known as one of the best Italian Gran Tourismo’s of the 1970s – Fiat 124 Sport Coupe.

 

AN AFFORDABLE SPORTS CAR

The 1974 two-door car belongs to the third and last of this model generation, as Fiat stopped producing the  Sport Coupe only a year after the dark red vehicle had rolled off  the conveyor in Turin. It was only in 1973 that the car acquired its distinctive front design with the one-piece radiator grille frame, when it parted from its connected double lamps and rear optics of  Lamborghini Jarama. Equipped with a 1.6 or, as in this case, a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine, the elegant car is capable of developing speeds up to 185 km / h. The engines were mostly borrowed from Fiat’s mid-size sedan 132, which had similar separate front double headlamps, and which was manufactured until the early 1980s. Noteworthy are this copy’s Abarth discs, both of which are more common on the original 124 Spider.

 

VAZ-2101 ON THE BASIS OF THE FIAT 124

As the name of the model suggests, a sports car with a classic three-dimensional body, four seats and a relatively large boot was created on the basis of the Fiat 124 sedan. As is known, it was not only the winner of the 1967 European Car of the Year, but also a “donor” for the first model produced by the Tolyatti factory in the former USSR, VAZ-2101. Placing pictures of both cars next to each other makes it difficult to imagine them as relatives, however, if one pays attention to details such as the speedometer, the similarities become apparent.

 

ITALIANS STICK TO TRUSTED CARS

Although car historians prefer the 60’s Sport Coupe, this copy deserves no less respect. Its interior changed very little during modernization. In 1972, it  was perhaps considered an old-fashioned flaw to have the air temperature controls next to the parking brake, but from today’s point of view, this is actually a bonus, as it depicts a longer period in the model’s history. So much worth can already be found in only a row of motorsport-style accessories in the middle of the panel and seat upholstery in “dot”, found in different shades. The Fiat 124 Sport Coupe was considered a safe car and had a height-adjustable steering wheel.

 

FIAT 124 SPORT COUPE EARNS RESPECT IN USA

The Sport Coupe’s biography also includes guest performances in the United States, where imports from Fiat earned respect for its dual nature: it was neat, it was fun to ride and at the same time it was quite affordable. However, one should  not rush to overseas historic car dealerships hoping to find a cheaper copy than this. Due to safety and emission limits, the car was arguably distorted by a change in design. However, many nice Sport Coupe copies circulate in the American Italian clubs in their original version – and at truly attractive prices. Fiat 124 Sport Coupe is especially popular for its driving,  as it is light and equipped with disc brakes for all four wheels, which was by no means  common in the 1970s.

 

A HISTORIC AND AFFORDABLE COUPE

There is no denying that the design of the first two-generation Fiat 124 Sport Coupe makes the heart beat faster. However, let’s keep in mind that the car was originally intended as a sports car that is available to a relatively wide range of buyers. In the history of automobiles there are many cases where a few decades later a “people’s car” moves away from original concepts with the speed of light and sky-high prices. The Fiat 124 Sport Coupe is a pleasant exception because it is still relatively cheap and relatively easy to maintain  if you know someone who can be trusted with a Weber carburetor. This Fiat is a good start to the exciting world of historic cars.

Car market overview in Latvia, Europe and the world in 2020

The past year has been full of change and challenges. Not only Latvia, but the whole world was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic wave. As a result, every industry suffered, including the car market. From March, when most European car factories closed, with a sudden increase in new cars and a shortage of warehouses.

Fall in all Baltic countries

Undeniably, a drop in new car registrations was expected. According to the data of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD), in 2020, 13720 cars were registered in Latvia. This is 26% less than last year – in 2019, 18,529 units were registered.

The annual leader Volkswagen is surpassed by Toyota and Škoda. Namely, the Toyota car brand ranks in the honorable first place with 2065 first registration cars. Škoda takes the respectable second place, with sales increasing by 8% or 1949 units. In turn, the sales volume of Volkswagen car brands decreased by 1301 units, this year 1758 units were registered.

Toms Hartmanis, the head of the logistics department of the car transport and logistics company Kurbads, comments on the past year: “Last year was full of challenges in the car market.

As a result of the first wave of the pandemic, car production was stopped in most parts of the world, and the plans for 2020 were far from being achieved. With the resumption of production, the industry faced the following challenges: a shortage of parts, as no one could have foreseen the shortage so large that they would be ready to resume operating 100% after the cataclysm. The industry recovered to reasonable levels only in the last quarter of the year. The car market, although insufficient, adapted quickly, and strong growth was observed in the used car segment, which partially offset the already unattainable volumes in the car market. This can also be seen in the market proportions – with the exception of the private sector alone, there is even growth, but the overall market is in deep decline. ”

The most popular car model leaders are the Toyota RAV4 (688 units), and right there next to it, Toyota Corolla with 684 new cars. Škoda Octavia is a little bit farther behind (608 units). Statistical data shows that the most popular mini class vehicle in Latvia is VW Golf, the middle class is dominated by this year’s most popular models – Toyota Corolla and Škoda Octavia.

The most dynamic purchase of new cars last year was observed in July, 1507 units. However, compared to July 2019, the activity is lower by 13%. The COVID-19 pandemic hit Latvia in full in March and April, when the number of registered new passenger cars also decreased by up to 58% compared to 2019. The electric car market is celebrating its victory, with a 278% increase in 2020. That is, 323 new units, which is a major breakthrough compared to 90 units in 2019.

Neither in Lithuania nor in Estonia is the overall picture of new car registrations brighter. However, in our neighbouring countries there isn’t such a big drop as in Latvia. In Lithuania, new car registrations have fallen by 13%, to 5,968 units. Unfortunately, the new car market in Estonia has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Namely, the decrease is 29%, that is, 7839 units.

A massive drop in Europe; undeniably dominated by Volkswagen

Both the industry and the car market were severely affected by the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially in March and April, when the factories closed and there was an absolute blocking of work. Dealers reacted quickly and suppressed new order quantities by deciding to sell the cars in stock. Undoubtedly, the car sales market also reached the next level, had to adapt to the conditions and start using e-commerce opportunities. As they could not go to the showrooms to see the car or enjoy the test drives, the dealers had to face a restructuring of their work.

New car registrations in the EU fell by 24.3%, followed by the hardest decrease in Spain (down -32.3%), followed closely by Italy (down -27.9%) and France (down 25.5%). In total, new car registrations decreased by 3.5 million compared to 2019.

The automotive sector is still dominated by the Volkswagen Group, which, despite the circumstances, managed to increase its market share to 25.4% (24.3% in 2019). Although Volkswagen’s new car registrations in particular fell by 24.5% (1.34 million units). Other manufacturers in the VW Group are also experiencing a significant reduction – Škoda – a decrease of – 15.7%, Audi – 19.2%, Porsche – 7.6%.

The most popular car brands in Europe in 2020 are undoubtedly Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot. Toyota, which is so popular in Latvia, ranks only in seventh place.

In general, the situation is tense, both globally and in Europe

Overall, car sales worldwide have fallen by 15%. The most critical changes are, of course, in Europe (-24.3%), as well as in Brazil (-26.7%), India (-17.7%) and the United States (14.8%). On the other hand, China (-6.1%) and Russia (-9.1%) have been more successful during this time.

Although China was the first country to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it recovered very successfully. Not only in the automotive industry, but in all industries in general. Car sales decreased by 1.25 million, 19,790,000 units were sold (201,045,000 units in 2019).

Source of information: ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association), Road Safety Directorate and VDA data.

 

Blind areas are a major cause of road accidents involving lorries

Blind spots are places where the truck driver cannot see other vehicles. Although truck drivers are higher than the ground compared to car drivers, the field of vision is blocked in several areas.

Trucks have three main blind zones:

  • Side blind zones – due to the huge size and height of the car transporter trailers, a completely opaque blind zone is formed when turning. The blind zone on the right side is considered to be much more dangerous compared to the blind zone on the left side.
  • Front blind spot – Most accidents in this area occur when a car makes a sharp maneuver or starts moving late in front of the truck. The car literally disappears from the truck driver’s sight by hiding behind the dashboard.
  • Rear blind spot – car drivers should primarily take into account the fact that truck drivers do not have rear view mirrors. Namely, drivers must rely on the side mirrors to check the surrounding traffic.

Tips for truck drivers to avoid blind spot accidents:

  • Optimal adjustment of mirrors and seat. Especially if cars are changed or several drivers drive the same car. Most cars today are equipped with a seat position function.
  • “Gymnastics” at the wheel. Modification of the neck and body by intensifying observation of the surroundings, thus reducing the blind zone.
  • Addition of additional special mirror elements without obscuring the basic view.
  • Position navigation, toll boxes and telephone so that the view is not obscured.
  • Do not start moving in winter until the windows have completely thawed or cleaned. Including windscreen, the uncleaned right side. Don’t start moving until the extra camera lenses are clear.

France, on the other hand, wants to pay more attention to the accidents caused by truck blind spots. Therefore, from January 1st 2021, all heavy weight car transport (both lorries and passenger vehicles) weighing more than 3.5 tonnes must be equipped with yellow signs informing other road users of the blind spots for their vehicle. This way the French government will seek to reduce the number of road accidents.