By Yevgeny Muromov
Capricious weather attempted to spoil the holiday with rain. Spectators suffered little, although the ‘honourable guests’ of the recent rally may not have enjoyed the weather. The youngest was 35 years old.
This year, a site near Minsk’s City Hall gathered American ‘dudes’ more common on Las Vegas and Havana streets: a Buick Riviera, a Pontiac Bonneville and a Cadillac Eldorado. They neighboured legendary Soviet ‘labourers’: a Moskvich- 401, a GAZ-M-12 ZiM and a GAZ-M-20 Pobeda — well known to our older generations. Pre-war German cars, amusing Ukrainian Zaporozhets cars and other interesting models were also on show.
“Our Oldtimer Rally is a fascinating competition, gathering rare cars and interesting people,” notes one of the event’s organisers, Vladimir Shumsky. “It’s necessary to be both a racer and an intellectual to take part. The ability to communicate — both with people and cars — is more important than speed.”
Of course, many are attracted not by racing but by the chance to see legendary, cult cars, learning more about them. Some models are connected with wonderful stories. For example, a ZIL-41047 Limousine was the last ZIL model produced in Soviet times. Top ranking officials usually used them. Even the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, loved the design.
A Bentley S2 — the faithful carrier of British aristocracy — was on show nearby. “This elegant car is over 50 years old. Of course, it was designed for rich people and arrived in Belarus from America. We worried that it might be late for the rally,” says Yevgenia Kholetskaya, the elegant owner of the Bentley. Interestingly, owners of new Bentley cars note that new versions have a different smell to older models. With this in mind, manufacturers like to diffuse an aroma found in first generation cars inside new models, to mask the smell of modern materials.
The most modest exhibit was situated in a corner: a Ford-T, which helped Henry Ford to ‘place all Americans on wheels’. He launched the era of cars a hundred years ago. His ‘Tin Lizzy’ (as this car was nicknamed a century ago) was the first to enjoy mass production — becoming the first accessible car as a result. It can travel at an average speed of 50km/h, which was insanely fast in the early 20th century.
On touching a true rarity, you gain an understanding that, over time, a car doesn’t have to be consigned to the scrap heap. It can become a work of art, showing the mastery of human hands and artistic engineering.