If you asked the citizens of Biržai, what are the most exciting events held in their town, it would undoubtedly be mentioned the Antique Vehicle Show “Timeless Classic”. And this is true, exhibitions of historic cars have been organized by the Antique Vehicle Club “Klasika” since 2008 and they have not only enlivened the cultural life of Biržai, but also are becoming a prestigious event in the Baltic States. As it is written in the media, festivals with many years of tradition that have successfully continued their activities for several years, there are only a few in Lithuania. “Timeless Classic” is one of them, because each year the event involves not only a huge number of participants, but also an ever increasing number of spectators.
For the past decade, along with the festivals of Biržai town, the performances of the historical technique have become a traditional gathering place for people who are at least interested in the vintage technology, where they can see the oldest, most interesting and rare historical cars of Lithuania and neighboring countries, can meet the best-known restorers, collectors and experts.
This year’s Antique Vehicle Show “Timeless Classic”, as always, was held on the first weekend of August. The organizers of the festival, in order to present the Biržai region in a unique way to the enthusiasts of the historical technology, choose each year an ever-more interesting landscape for meetings. So, on the 5th of August, on Saturday, the historic vehicles, which flooded Biržai region, gathered in the Sodeliškiai Manor. Here, only 13 kilometers distant from Biržai, in the country tourism homestead, the confirmation of the participants’ pre-registration and the closed festive evening took place.
The event brought together 119 antique vehicles. Of these: 112 cars, 3 motorcycles and 4 trucks. Like a number of years earlier, the event was dominated by the American technique, produced in 1920-1973. 45 vehicles made in the United States participated in the festival. 36 cars were made in the Soviet Union, and the remaining 38 participants came by Czech Republic, England, Germany, Sweden and France produce antique vehicles. Participants of the event even came from eight countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Belarus, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.
The Antique Vehicle meeting “Timeless Classic 2017”, as it was every year, consisted of five parts: registration of participants, excursion, retro technical parades, exhibition of antique cars in Biržai town festival and the festive evening at Sodeliškiai Manor.
At the end of the registration and after dinner, the participants of the festival were invited to the excursion around the Sodeliškiai Manor. The guests of the Club “Klasika” “cultivated” the grain in Dalius Linkevičius’ ecological farm, minced and sieved them in the only wind mill operating in Lithuania, baked bread from the minced flour in the authentic Highlanders farmstead of the beginning of 20th century, sang songs and made twists with the ethnographic ensemble dancers and musicians. And when the legs and throat sored, the glass of real home-made local beer treated and helped to rest. Well, of course, the Museum of Antique Technics has not been forgotten, and the abundance and diversity of its exhibits are unlikely to be equal in Lithuania. And where else are steam vehicles, engines, vintage tractors and other agricultural implements! It was definitely something to look at … And as the participants of the festival told us, the greatest impression left the the century-old puffing and whistling Waterloo steam tractor, driven by Stasys’ strong hands, weaved between the car lines …
After returning from the interesting and purposeful walks around Sodeliškiai Manor, preparations for the parade of antique technique began. Dressing and setting up according to the time of owned car, the vehicle column was started. Thanks to the supervisors of the club “Klasika” who professionals and have many years of experience, every historian beauty has easily found its place in a long, almost a kilometer-long column.
Even 119 exhibits of antique vehicles were brought to the nearby, just 13 km long road towards Biržai town festival. The first were veterans – the oldest cars, followed by some “younger” – classical ones. Then the Soviet technique followed the column and then a few motorcycles. And finally, heavy vehicles completed the historical technique line. Although this meeting of antique vehicles is officially named as an antique car event, but almost always exceptions apply to one or another motorcycle, a more interesting truck, an older tractor, or an ever-expanding rare item of history. The more diverse the more fun and interest to the spectator!
Shortly afterwards, with the police accompanying and with the horn signals congratulating the welcoming spectators, the antique vehicle column reached Biržai. The town which has recently been famous not only for architectural monuments, sinkholes, brewery traditions, but also for the antique vehicle events.
Along with solid driving, as well as suitable for durable historical exhibits, antique vehicles noisily congratulated the waiting audience and lined neatly in a spacious square near the Evangelical Reformat Church.
It’s no secret that the antique vehicle shows in Biržai always receive enormous popularity and support. Every year, more and more viewers are interested in retro cars, greet them with applause, adorn the dressed up ladies and gentlemen, took photographs, and hear the past and the history of one or another antique exhibit.
The visual and audio information is simply necessary for the viewer, and this time it really did not miss. Visitors of the exhibition could not only hear the interviewed owners and drivers of vintage cars, but also see them on a huge television screen. In this way, congestion around the exhibits was avoided, and the history of each vehicle’s development reached even the most distant corners of the exhibition. And that was not just the dry facts, the conversations with the participants of the exhibition changed the songs by Jūratė Garnelienė and Gytis Balčiūnas, and they – by video films presenting the sponsors and organizers of the exhibition and the previous events of the “Classic” festivals.
The quality and quantity of this year’s exhibition impressed not only spectators but also experts in antique technology. In their opinion, in Lithuania, the event of such a good historical technique has not yet been … The number of vehicles produced in the interwar period (until 1946), which was even twenty, was astonishing and impressive even at the level of neighboring countries!
By the oldest car, made even in 1922, a regular participant of the Club “Klasika” events Gintautas Miškinis came to Biržai from Kaunas. His pride Nash 681 Touring, made nearly a century ago in the United States, has never left its elegance and beauty for the forthcoming car Tesla.
Both the twentieth and twenty-first century technical miracles, not only surprised, but also fascinated by their contrasts! After all, it’s only in the cinema that you can see such an intriguing historical link between the past and the present!
Not only had these two exhibits received an appreciation of the exhibition visitors. More precisely, the level of the event and the beauty of the cars were evaluated not only by the viewers, but also by a solid and professional international jury of experts. In their opinion, the name of the best antique car, produced before 1946, was won by Jonas Ruseckas’ Opel Admiral, made in 1939. By the way, this car was once rewarded in Biržai. In 2014, it was recognized as the best-restored historic vehicle.
In the antique vehicle exhibition “Timeless Classic 2017”, Buick Super Eight, made in 1947, was elected as the best classic car produced since 1945. The car owner – Janno Hannus arrived from Estonia to the event.
The expert jury unanimously acknowledged the most beautiful exhibit Mercedes-Benz W18 290 Cabrio D, made in 1935. The cabriolet owner is Stanislovas Bartkevičius. This is a car that has a history and creates history itself: World War II participant, a witness of the historical development of post-war Lithuania, and a character of many cinema films – these words can briefly describe the winner of this award.
And because of the acknowledgement of the best Soviet car name, the voice of the authoritative jury coincided. This award was won by the beautiful GAZ M-20 convertible, made in 1950’s. Its owner – the Latvian Guntis Tiger can really be proud of very rare Soviet car, which in the people is usually called simply Pobeda (Victory).
The most honorable award of the Antique Vehicle Show “Timeless Classic 2017” – Grand Prix won the Buick 40, made in 1930s. Incidentally, this car and its owner Mr. Aldis Auninš received another award. Just finished, still scenting the paint this antique exhibit earned the best rating of the restored car.
It has already become usual, in the documentaries of the Club “Klasika” to present briefly the winner of the Grand Prix of the Antique Vehicle meeting “Timeless Classic”. So, this time, without breaking the traditions, we will briefly tell you about the Buick 40-30.
As we have already mentioned, the car was made in the 1930s and was brought to Riga from the USA, Michigan State the same year. Soon, already on May 20th, in the industrial trading company “Auto”, this Buick was bought by Riga professor Alexander Kruglevsky. According to the customer’s order, the car was somewhat improved. If the standard models were equipped with two spare tires that were without spokes and a hub, this Buick was ready for purchase with two fully-completed spare wheels. Two days later, on May 22nd, the car was given a registration number. The registration document kept in the Latvian state archives states that the aforementioned Buick had the license plate with 2360 mark on it
It’s a pity that we know nothing else about where and how the car was traveling, what the faults were and what care he was taking, but in the 1940s, after the first Soviet occupation, the car was hidden in the then suburb of Riga in Mežapark. The body of the Buick was partially dismantled and hidden, and the rear axle was even buried underground.
In 1972, when the Latvian antique car club was founded and the movement of antique technique enthusiasts became stronger, a number of historical values were re-discovered and obliterated from forgetfulness. In about 1976, the mentioned car was found. One of the founders of the Latvian Club Elmars Žvigulis acquired it from the professor’s widow Kruglevskaya. After that, Buick was gradually assembled and prepared for restoration until it was sold to its current owner Aldis Auninš in 2015.
Mr. Aldis restored the car basically. During this process, the car was left with all the original units and retained authenticity, except that the original body color was replaced with a different color but a Buick-colored factory-sized gamut. And as soon as the restoration process was completed, the car was shown to the public. It has already happened that the first Buick rebirth debut took place in Biržai and was evaluated by the Grand Prix of the Club Klasika! Congratulations to Mr. Aldis!
Usually six winners are elected and awarded at the “Timeless Classic” event. This year’s awards have been complemented by another nomination – the smallest-wheel-drive award. It was founded by the Lithuanian Energy and Technology Museum and won the Virginijus Duderis’ car SMZ, manufactured in 1964. A car for the disabled, more is known as Soviet comedy movies icon, and during the parades and exhibitions, it not only receives a shout of admiration, but also a friendly smile…
And in terms of the mood of the visitors, it was only the only thing that shook the smiles of the spectators – the news about the coming end of the exhibition. The visitors were very reluctant to say good-bye to beautiful cars, motorcycles and other moving equipment.
Thus, thanking for the attention and waving goodbye to the Biržai citizens and its guests, historic cars and their drivers returned to Sodeliškiai Manor, where they enjoyed a feast, a concert and a party. After dinner, the festive evening part of the antique car show began.
As every year, the anthem of the Republic of Lithuania was performed by Mindaugas Gylys, followed by the song of the kids – I Will Draw Lithuania.
Egidijus Einoris, Director of the Antique Vehicle Club “Klasika”, soon afterwards congratulated the participants and guests on ensuring that the organizers of the Club “Klasika” anniversary year in the following year are determined to welcome even bigger and more diverse crowd of participants.
Valdemaras Valkiūnas, the mayor of Biržai, was pleased with the beautiful event, wished the participants success and together with the organizers of the festival rewarded those who were the best. During the ceremony, nominees, medals and Club “Klasika” cups were announced for the owners and drivers of the oldest, best, most valuable and most beautiful cars.
The organizers of the festival, the members of the Antique Vehicle Club “Klasika”, warmly thanked all the sponsors of this event, and especially the owners of Sodeliškiai Manor Neringa and Dalius Linkevičius.
At the end of the official part, the concert was started by opera soloists Genovaitė Bigenytė and Mindaugas Gylys, ball dances were performed by Biržai club dancers, physical strength was demonstrated by “Street gymnasts”, and the rock band “Svaras 409” songs.
And at midnight, multicolored laser projections appeared, which seemed to remind you that all the festivals have not only the beginning but also the end. It does not happen that the time comes when you need to stand out and say goodbye … So the celebration ended, leaving great memories and a desire to meet next year. Thanks to spectators, participants and sponsors!
Pictures by Ilona Daubaraitė