Rusty's Eastern European Vacation Snapz

I’ve been off globetrotting for the last week, in that highly budget-conscious manner I’ve become so adept at. We flew out in a 737 with the most brutally constrictive seat pitch you could imagine, and then spent two days each in Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Naturally, while I should have been taking in the sights and partaking in new and fascinating culture, I was instead sidetracked by what I found on the roads.
Here’s a taste of the kind of treats that the streets of the Czech republic, Austria and Hungary could have in store for your next trip.

Yeah, just a Mustang. But an absolutely filthy one in PMY. Mustangs should be filthy. And should be in PMY.

Ferrari Californias are nice, too, but there’s something grotesquely low-rent about running one on a Euros Per Mile basis. Although it wouldn’t be quite so unappealing if it didn’t have “I’m a rental” writ large along its flanks.

W124’s continue to clatter reliably around Eastern Europe, cutting a certain dash irrespective of how shabby they might be. There’s something slightly noble about an old German semi-luxury sedan that’s down but not quite out.

Here’s a thing. Back in 2014 I photographed this Peugeot 205 cabrio near Prague Castle. I celebrated its ‘just about on the road’ determination to survive, but figured that its days were probably numbered.

But I was wrong! Last week we descended the long flight of steps that runs towards Charles Bridge from the castle, and there was the self same Peugeot, proudly topped with a spanking new roof. God speed you little Pug.

This forgettably bland pickup has an unforgettable name. It’s the Great Wall Wingle. Sold under the still proposterous Steed name in the UK, and as the V Series name in Australia. An Australian couldn’t drive a Wingle, could he?
This guy loves his E30…

This guy probably doesn’t.

Bus fans rejoice, because this is a bus! More specifically it’s a Neoplan that dates from the era that they were fitted with Mercedes W123 headlamps. They actually look pretty good. It made a nice noise, too.

This is a Wartburg 1.3, a modernised version of the 353, powered by a Volkswagen Polo engine in place of the original two-stroke lump. If you want it, it’s for sale for 250,000HUF.

More bus goodness from Budapest. This is actually an electrically powered trolleybus, from the Ikarus 200 series. There’s something slightly sinister about how trolleybuses go about their business, their pantographs flailing around wildly as they collect electrical goodness from the overhead catenary.

When I chanced upon this I was all like “I never knew they made a three door Sierra in Ghia trim”, and, of course, they didn’t. This is a Laser which has either received a replacement tailgate from a Ghia, or merely a badge from one.

This impeccably presented Citroen CX Familiale is a genuine work of art. In fact, when I Tweeted its image (@RoadworkUK!!!!!) it picked up some 29 likes. That’s more than anything I’ve ever Tweeted before, and probably ever will.

It’s easy to forget just how handsome the B2 generation of VW Passat was. We got them in five door fastback, four door Sedan (named Santana for a while) and five door station wagon form, and not the neat three door hatch that US customers enjoyed. Alas, this one is sitting on some suspiciously ’90s looking wheels, but looks to be well loved.

With the snow hurling down in Vienna the last thing I expected to see was an MG TF, but evidently certain Austrian drivers are discerning enough to relish Rover’s mid-engined K-series masterpiece.

This Mercedes W126 has acquired a Lincoln front grille at some point. It’s got a few vanes missing, too, which only adds to the sheer class of this fine German automobile.

The razor-sharp Volvo 740 looks rather natural surrounded by snow and ice. Oddly I saw several 700-series sedans on the streets of Vienna, but not a single station wagon.

If I had a Skoda Favorit, this is probably how I’d want it to look, all patches of mismatched primer and spray filler. Here is a car being kept on the road with a wing and a prayer. Magnificent.

Renault 25s are seriously rare conveyances in the UK, for no real reason other than public indifference to them. I mean, they rusted but so did so many other large saloons and hatchbacks of the ’80s. I reckon they’re pretty awesome looking machines.

It’s a Geo Metro. Well, no it isn’t, but this generation of Suzuki Swift went on in production for what felt like forever. In fact, it was assembled for eleven years in the city of Esztergom, Hungary, which would explain why the streets of Budapest are still heaving with them.

It seems that Budapest is where old Mercedes W215 CL’s go to die. A great many CL500s can be seen in less than tip top condition, offering their owners a taste of the high-roller lifestyle before the inevitable electromechanical apocalypse draws the curtains permanently.

Much better off with one of these rear-engined Skodas. Ironically, in Prague I didn’t see a single one of these, but Budapest was knee-deep with them, both the early ’80s 120 and 130 that you see here, and the later 136 models.

Or if you really want to eschew any form of luxury, a Trabant. This one was parked opposite my hotel. With its duroplast bodywork, that rather fatal-looking war wound on the front fender is probably repairable should you want to reduce your Trabant’s floppiness.

This is a Daewoo Espero. It was penned by Bertone who gave it an improbably sharp front end appearance. Sadly, as it was based the mechanical package of the 1980s Vauxhall Cavalier / Opel Vectra / Holden Camiro, by the time it came to market in the mid-’90s it was already rather a spent force.

It wasn’t until I visited the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest that I realised that LADA translates directly to “Casket” in Hungarian. Here’s a Lada Samara, and isn’t it the most unpretentious motor car you ever did see?

Bus time again! And it’s another Ikarus 200 series, this time an urban service bus. The basic 200 design barely changed from the mid 1970s, so it’s hard to tell exactly how old this one – in the service of the Budapest public transport (BKV) system – actually is. The engine is likely a 10.3-litre RABA unit.

And to finish, the least beloved member of the famous Type Four family of large ’80s hatchbacks, the Fiat Croma. You can immediately see the similarities between this and the Saab 9000, but there could never be any doubt over which was the better car. Hint – not the Fiat.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)

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9 responses to “Rusty's Eastern European Vacation Snapz”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    Great collection – incredible how you found that same Peugeot again!
    The Ikarus 200 is such a trusty machine. Here’s the bus that carried me back and forth to school in the 90s, it was still active when I was done in 2000.
    Very peculiar sound, the engine vibration seems to be enough to slowly open and close the doors, and the leatherette seats did smell as they do well into their 30th year of existence.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I didn’t actually remember shooting the Peugeot before until I got home and checked my photos from my last trip. Public transport was probably my highlight, especially the rusty Russian EV3 metro trains in Budapest, and the U11s in Vienna with Mercury Sable style lightbars between the headlamps.

      1. Kamil K Avatar

        I rode Ikaruses all over Warsaw when I was little. So many memories.

  2. dr zero Avatar
    dr zero

    I showed my brother my photos from Prague last year. Our conversation went something like this
    “Why do you have a photo of a crap car?”
    Because it’s a Lada.
    He didn’t understand. The Lada went well with the Mach 1 I found in Linz.

  3. mdharrell Avatar

    “Or if you really want to eschew any form of luxury, a Trabant.”
    It’s got doors, side glass, and a heater, doesn’t it?

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I accept that they’re a little sybaritic compared to a KV…

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Incredibly powerful, too.

        1. Vairship Avatar

          You missed the Cyclops hiding behind the Lada Samara though, didn’t you?

  4. vega60 Avatar

    At least in Europe we did get the Passat B2 as a 3 door hatchback. It was rare though….

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