At the event of Vintage Cars „Timeless Classic 2020“, as many as 133 historic vehicles from Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lined up at Sodeliskiai Manor. Among the vintage vehicles, we saw 3 motorcycles, 2 trucks, 1 bus, 2 steam tractors and 125 cars.
Almost all historic cars, reminiscent of the interwar or even older times, usually have one thing in common: if they are truly unique, reflecting the most important stages of the development of engineering thought, rare and expensive – they are usually stored under lock and key. Such cars become untouchable exhibits in museums or private collections. In other words, it is either impossible or expensive for an ordinary person to see them. However, there are some exceptions.
This is how those interested in the history of enginery describe the traditional vintage cars event „Timeless Classic“, which has been held in Biržai every year since 2008 and is probably the largest on the eastern Baltic coast. 2020 is no exception. The event of classic car fanatics, which was bustling in Biržai on the first weekend of August, was so full of exotic vehicles that even the biggest enginery professionals admitted to being pleasantly surprised.
Despite the fact that the pandemic made the world turn slower, the new and regular participants of the festival still did not shrug off the traditions, although, according to the organizers, the number of countries participating in the event has decreased by almost half this year. Knowing all this, this year’s event in Birzai deserves even more respect, as it is not inferior to the best European analogues in terms of quality.
At the event of Vintage Cars „Timeless Classic 2020″, as many as 133 historic vehicles from Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lined up at Sodeliskiai Manor. Among the vintage vehicles, we saw 3 motorcycles, 2 trucks, 1 bus, 2 steam tractors and 125 cars.
It was a sight for sore eyes, from the “Nash 660”, which conveyed gangsters in The Godfather, the unique two-seater unitary roadster “Leningrad”, the giant “Cadillac” of the Elvis Presley era and the “Spartan II” for the Hollywood elite to the miniature British MG or plastic “Trabant” from East Germany.
The oldest and most solid cars manufactured before 1946 included 17 interwar exhibits. Powerful American machinery was represented at the festival by 40 historic vehicles, and Americans outnumbered Soviet machinery by 39 cars, motorcycles, and trucks. This year’s festival „Timeless Classic 2020“ was dominated by European cars, of which there were as many as 54.
The participants of the festival competed in seven nominations: the oldest car, the best vintage car made before 1946, the best classic car since 1945, the most beautiful car, the best Soviet car, the best restoration and the Grand Prix. All exhibits were carefully inspected and evaluated by an international committee of historical enginery experts.
Although the fragile situation in the world also affected the budget of the „Timeless Classic“ festival, the organizers club „Klasika“ had something to offer the guests of the event. Local and educational activities appeared in the program of the event. Those who wanted to listen to Arvydas Sapoka, who for three decades led the restoration workshop of the collector Saulius Karosas, found it difficult to fit into the conference hall of the Sodeliskiai manor. In fact, high-quality restoration of old-time vehicles is an infinitely expensive pleasure, and some elements of antique enginery are so fragile that there is simply no room for error. Mr. Sapoka’s insights into how problems can be avoided, how to „resurrect“ the engine, when and why not to use sandblasting to manage the body, what wood to choose when constructing a wooden frame, or even what painting techniques are most effective have evolved into discussions that took so long and endangered the entire program of the event.
In the Sodeliskiai manor, which has been hosting the festival for a number of years, both foreign guests and Lithuanian collectors gladly visited the unique Aukstaiciai Folk Museum. Moving it’s large wings, an antique mill invited to visit it from afar. Enginery enthusiasts quickly found kindred spirit exhibits: ancient carriages, coaches, and predecessors of modern mechanized agricultural implements.
The Museum of Antique Enginery, which opened a few years ago during the „Timeless Classic“ festival, just a few hundred meters away, attracted even more visitors. Here, it was possible to observe live the work of metal “dinosaurs” – 19th century tractors with steam engines and agricultural machines powered by steam power. Half-jokingly, but that day was probably the biggest movement of steam tractors driving and whistling at the same time, not only in Lithuania, but also in the whole world. It should be noted that some of the exhibits looked so precisely restored that there were often speculations whether they also looked so good after leaving the factory in the late 19th century.
The singularity of the festival „Timeless Classic“ is a unique parade of all participants of the annual celebration. According to the year of manufacture and the type of car, the column of antique enginery formed by the stewards of “Klasika” soon became a two-kilometer line-up. According to the planned schedule, an uninterrupted chain of antique enginery moved from Sodeliskiai manor to Birzai Aeroclub.
Another storm of emotions arose when all the participants of the festival „Timeless Classic“ reached the area of Birzai Aeroclub. For almost three hours, the owners of the old-time vehicles enjoyed the compliments of the festival visitors, told the stories of the „resurrection“ of the cars, answered the questions and posed countless times for the photos for the family albums.
Every exhibit of classic enginery (an old motorcycle, a car, a truck, a shiny or slightly faded wheeled “old man” who has kept the original color) is not only a piece of iron, but also a long story that it went through with his owners. We are probably not mistaken in saying that the people who have preserved these cars for decades with their iron “children” created strong bonds of friendship. They feel and complement each other, they know when and where it “hurts”, they carry a wave of joy and good emotions together, wherever and whenever they appear. The events of the „Timeless Classic“ bring together a multitude of such human-vehicle units. And even if iron can’t speak, the participants of the event are always full of the most interesting stories, technical information and good mood, which the traditional festival „Timeless Classic“ in Birzai helps to create.
No festival of „Timeless Classic“ can be made without a cherry on the top, which enchains the attention not only of ordinary spectators, but also of experts in classical enginery. This time it was a unique-unitary racing car „Leningrad“, designed and manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1953, which was presented by Aleksandras Obymacha from Vilnius at the exhibition after the restoration. Although the history of the car is long and rich, little technical knowledge was found about it when the reconstruction work began. Information about this car, designed and manufactured by engineer-designer Arkadij Babich, had to be gathered from document archives, a poor photo collection and several episodes in old film chronicles. However, when there is a great desire – anything is possible. Here, even the original color combination of the car body was refined by restorers based on a photo taken in 1958 by American tourist John Schultz.
We have to agree that this is a truly unique, enchanting car with graceful lines and aggressive sports look, which proves that even in the old days in the Soviet Union, engineers were able to create something extraordinary, not just angled and unsightly mass made cars. You can read more about the history of Leningrad and its “revival” on the website of the “Klasika” club at www.klasika.us.
After the exibition, the „Timeless Classic“ caravan of vintage enginery from Birzai turned again towards Sodeliskiai manor. It is here, for several years on the stage, the best and most beautiful cars of the festival, the best restorers are announced and awarded, the participants of the event have fun during the evening program, participate in the lottery. Although we have already mentioned that due to this year’s situation, the program of the event was a bit more concise, but it did not affect the good, communal connection of fans of vintage enginery. The president of the club „Klasika“ Egidijus Einoris once again congratulated the participants of the festival, thanked the most loyal partners and helpers of the club, and honored the sponsors of the festival.
In the evening, it was time for the most important announcements – the hosts of the event announced the best and most beautiful cars of the festival, which competed in 7 categories during the event.
According to the decision of the evaluation committee that worked at the event, Kestutis Banevicius’ Peugeot 203 C, manufactured in 1959, was chosen as the best classic car.
The best Soviet vintage vehicle was the GAZ 13 – Chaika, a symbol of Soviet luxury and power driven by a guest from Estonia Tonu Maksimov, made in 1967.
Not once the award for the best restorer for his excellent work went to the Latvian Andrejs Rode. He came to Birzai with a 1933 Mercedes-Benz 230. Precise car restoration is visible even to the average spectator, at least somewhat interested in cars, or at least with a perception.
Sigitas Zajarskas won the category of the best vintage cars by presenting one of the oldest car in the festival, the Chrysler CD 8. This car rolled away from the conveyor in 1931.
At the exhibition, in the nomination for the oldest car, the trophy went to Alfred Zamockis, who presented the Oldsmobile 30 A, which will soon celebrate its 100th birthday. This vintage “old man” saw the light of day in the interwar period – in 1923.
It’s no wonder that Aleksandras Obymacha, who presented the unique 1953 roadster Leningrad, won two awards at once – the title of the most beautiful car and the Grand Prix of the Event. Under the Grand Prix concept contains everything – great restoration, attention to the details, beauty, uniqueness and many other factors, which this time fit into one car and one name – Leningrad.
The festive evening program and at the same time the festival of vintage enginery „Timeless Classic 2020“ came to an end. The organizer of the event – the vintage car club „Klasika“ – once again gave thanks to all the participants of the event. It is gratifying to know that the traditions continue and the story of the celebration does not end. We hope it doesn’t stop next year either. See you around in Birzai in 2021!
Dainius Nagele photos
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