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Moskvitch Weekend Edition: The 1964-1975 Moskvitch 412/Elite

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Above the Moskvitch 408 line, there was the 412, to which I referred in earlier posts. It was positioned as a more premium choice on the repertoire, as it was plusher and featured a larger engine.

It’s also worth mentioning that the bulk of the photographs on this piece have been taken by the Finnish importer, Konela Auto. Those black plates really shine on the brand-new Elites, as the 412 was called on the export market.

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Moskvitch Weekend Edition: The 1964-1975 Moskvitch 408

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With yesterday’s posts, we focused on the 1970s prototypes that centred on replacing the 408 and 412 series cars of the 1960s and 1970s. It makes sense to give some space to the earlier cars, as they are really rather beautiful in a narrow, upright sense. The promotional images dedicated to them are also worth taking a look at, as the colours are bright and everything is tip-top.

The first car, the black one is actually a pre-production example from 1961. Keeping in mind it took until mid-1980s for the lineage to be replaced, the base car that started its life as the 408, survived a handsome quarter of a decade – to some turbulent times.

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Moskvitch Weekend Edition: The Moskvitch Prototypes Part III

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After the mid-1970s design prototypes, the basis for the new five-door Moskvitch 2141 was confirmed. The process was simplified greatly: out of the contemporary offerings in the Western market, the Car of the Year 1976, the Simca 1307 was chosen as the base. It must have been a tough decision from the designers’ perspective, as the preceding work was wiped clean, and they were told to follow in the footsteps of what Chrysler Europe had been doing.

But still, work was started over again and prototypes were again produced.

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Moskvitch Weekend Edition: The Moskvitch Prototypes Part II

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After discarding the 412 as a basis for the forthcoming prototypes, Moskvitch’s design started to get really interesting. Although the source material doesn’t explicitly address this, the Saab influence in the first prototype, denoted C-1, is more than obvious in several respects.

Another amusing thing is that the 1975 C-1 prototype, due to its striking green colour, ended up being named after the children’s programme character Crocodile Gena. There are worse comparisons, I guess.

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Moskvitch Weekend Edition: The Moskvitch Prototypes Part I

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This weekend, it’ll be 25 years from the German Reunification. The East and the West started a process that made Eastern Europe what it is today: countries full of well-used 1990s Volkswagen Passats and some really lovely towns to spend time in, having a hearty meal with a good beer alongside.

Hooniverse has had its share of Lada photos and the occasional Samara content, and we’re not averse to Trabants, but Moskvitches haven’t been too common on this site. That’s why I’m lending a little light to The Other Russian Car Maker, the one that isn’t VAZ.

Remember Aleko? You will, after the first posts this weekend.

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Back on Track Day: Hooniverse Goes to Ahvenisto

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Out of all the racetracks in Finland, Ahvenisto stands out. Most of the tracks here have been built somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and that usually renders them quite flat. But Ahvenisto stands proud by a ridge, with uphill sections and daring curves without yards and yards of run-off area. Originally, there wasn’t much close by but woodlands and fields, but urban sprawl reached the track quite quickly. Nowadays the track has to hold its ground to be able to exist in modern smalltown Finland, where people move next to race tracks and then complain about engine noise. But I digress: every minute spent at the track is worth it, as long as the track is in active use and respected for the motorsport history it embodies.

It has become sort of customary for our circle of FinalGearheads to end the summer season with an Ahvenisto trackday somewhere in late September or early October, and this year was no exception. I was eager to take my Miata there, as it’s the closest thing to an actually track-ready car I’ve had in my fleet.

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Great Little Car: Mazda MR-90 was the GLC re-animated

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It’s always baffling when you find out there’s a car you never knew existed. When searching for Ford Festiva images – honestly – I bumped into this press shot of the Mazda MR-90, and it completely caught me off guard. What was it? A Hyundai Pony with Mazda badges?

Badge engineering doesn’t go that way in this case, and the MR-90 is just something refreshed. You’re looking at the 1977-onwards Mazda 323 GLC, only wearing the GC generation 626’s face for the Indonesian market.

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Heavy Metal: 1977 Cadillac Coupé de Ville

Antti Kautonen September 23, 2015 Finnish Line

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I love the deep copper colour on this Cadillac. I love the faux wire wheel trims on it, and the matching vinyl roof. Most of all, I love the very heavy-looking bumper and the ton of chrome on the front of this 1977 Coupe de Ville: it looks like it accounts for a quarter of the vehicle’s weight.

I shot this Caddy on the same lot as one of the first cars I photographed for this site, the Buick Roadmaster. The presence of both cars is pretty spot on.

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For Sale: Dutch 1987 Hyundai Stellar is an unlikely survivor

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Let’s think back on the Hyundai timeline. There’s the Sonata, before which there was the Sonata, and then there were a whole bunch of Mitsubishi-engined Sonatas, and then there’s the Stellar. Exactly! The Stellar, an in-betweener from the time when Hyundai still built Ford Cortinas under licence, and was in transition to using Mitsubishi partsbin stuff in bodies they designed themselves.

The Hyundai Stellar was a rear-drive car that used the 1970s Cortina platform, but under the hood was a Mitsubishi four-cylinder. The body was a Giugiaro design, tall, blocky and narrow, and the glasshouse is a good few percent too far back to make perfect sense from the side on. They aren’t exactly commonplace anywhere, but there’s a surviving, fully loaded 1987 car in the Netherlands and it’s for sale.

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Finnish Line: On the 2015 Mazda MX-5 ND’s Pricing in Finland

Antti Kautonen September 22, 2015 Finnish Line

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The Finnish prices for the new generation Mazda MX-5 were recently announced. I’ve been eagerly waiting for the final prices, even if I’m the kind of guy who only brings in dirt at a new car dealership. But since there’s a Miata in my life, I’m keen to observe where the model line is going. And technically I’m slap bang in the middle of the focus group, as I’m an enthusiast who rarely needs to transport more than one passenger. And when the need arises, I have alternative transport waiting in the wings. It’s not preposterous to consider the ND as the ideal new car on the market.

As a prelude of sorts, the German-market cars start at 23 000 euros at their most basic, 1500 cc “Prime Line” version. You get electric windows, manual A/C and so on; stuff to keep practically anybody happy, but nothing outrageous. If you want more kit, there’s the Center Line specification for a grand more, and the two-litre engine is available on the Exclusive Line and Sports Line, at 27 000 and 29 000 euros, respectively. This makes a fair bit of sense, as if you want a base car and want to focus on the car’s abilities themselves, you can do that.

Not so in Finland.

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