Sunday, 15 May 2016

Classic car show, Nadarzyn

On my way to work on Friday I was handed a flyer by the Metro station. Now 99% of flyers don't concern me, as I already speak English thank you and I don't need to borrow money. But this one had a picture of an old car on it. Hmm... at the Ptak Expo Centre in Nadarzyn (never heard of it), on Saturday and Sunday there was to be a huge classic car show and auction - Poland's biggest.

So I did some checking; the Ptak Expo Centre is a mere 23 minutes from home through Magdalenka and Sękocin - over the Krakowska, then the Katowicka - and there it is. Most accessible.

I turned up on Sunday morning, just after the second day of the show had opened. The idea of the early start was to be able to snap the exhibits before the crowds got in the way too much.

And what an excellent show it turned out to be! Two halls filled with really interesting exhibits. To give you an idea of the rarity of what was on display, there were two Pierce-Arrows, American luxury cars from the 1920s (Great Gatsby era). I'd never clapped eyes on a Pierce-Arrow before.

Lots of quality motors from Germany, Britain, the USA, France, Italy, Sweden... but for me, the most interesting stuff was Polish. In particular the prototypes that never made it onto the production line.

Let's start with these. Below: the Syrena Sport from 1960. A fibreglass-bodied two-seater hard-top coupe based on the chassis of the Syrena saloon, powered by a two-cylinder four-stroke horizontally-opposed engine. However, it was just meant to be a one-off project, a test-bed for new technologies, never planned for production. The car below is a replica based on photos of the prototype, which was destroyed in the late 1970s.

Below: the Syrena 110 from 1965. This early hatchback was meant to have replaced the Syrena 104. Had it gone into production, it would have been one of Europe's earliest hatchbacks, but the decision was taken to buy the licence to build the Fiat 126 in Poland instead. More than half a century on, the design still looks fresh, even though panel fit looks iffy. Still - remember this was a prototype.

Below: a similar story with the FSM Beskid from 1983. This prototype appeared ten years before Renault's ground-breaking Twingo. But it was not to go into production; the Polish government instead chose to buy the licence to build the Fiat Cinquecento in Poland instead. Hard to believe that this little car is 33 years old. With a drag coefficient of Cx=0.29, fuel economy from its 650cc engine was a creditable 72 mpg (3.9 l/100km).

Below: a car that did make it into production - the FSO Warszawa, a licence-built version of the Soviet GAZ M-20 Pobieda. More than a quarter of a million of these were produced, from 1951 to 1973. This one is from the early 1960s, thought the authenticity of the paint job is questionable.

Below: a familiar car to me - I used to own one exactly like this back in the early 1980s in London, thought with the steering wheel on the right for the UK market. A lovely example of the GAZ M-21 Volga. In black. Tylko.

The Classic Car show also had a fair number of military vehicles, mainly American WWII models. My favourite today? This beautifully turned out Dodge WC54 Ambulance, below, as would have served at D-Day. It's for sale.

There were plenty of British classics to admire. Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Daimler... for me the wire-wheeled sports cars were the best. Below: an Austin Healey 100 from 1953. Note the fold-down windscreen. Many of these were exported to the US.

Below: an MG TC, a smaller and more old-fashioned sports car, yet oozing with character. Built between 1945 and 1950, these agile sportsters spearheaded the British export drive to the New World. For American drivers, British sports cars (and indeed motorbikes) were an antidote to overweight and less manoeuvrable home-grown vehicles.

The US was well represented at the show. A classic piece of Americana, a 1960 Cadillac Sixty Special. Behind it a pre-war Cadillac V-16, a 1949 DeSoto and a pink 1957 Caddy. Wow. All together in Nadarzyn, just south of Warsaw.

Below: a trio of Ford Mustangs from the mid- and late-1960s. "It's a model made before catalytic converters so it'll run good on regular gas."

Below: Continental Europe's sports cars were on show too. A Volvo P1800 and a Mercedes-Benz SL230, again from the mid- to late-1960s. There were many Mercs, too many for my taste. Unless it's an SL, for me, Mercedes-Benz = taxi.

Most impressive single exhibit? Must be this 1938 Auto-Union Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet. It's from Lithuania.

I was impressed by the quality offered by Polish classic car restorers. There were several stands showing classics in various stages of renovation, the body stripped down to bare metal and rebuilt. The craftsmanship was fine and the prices very competitive compared to the UK.

I spent the best part of two hours at the event, walking over 6,000 paces (5km/3miles), and I've uploaded only a fraction of the photos I took. A truly worthwhile show - I'm glad I was handed the leaflet - without it I would never had known!

This time last year:
Classic vehicles at London's VE-Day 70 celebrations

This time three years ago:
Malodorous passengers on Warsaw's public transport

This time five years ago:
Inside Filtry - Warsaw's waterworks (Museum Night 2011)

This time six years ago:
Warsaw's Museum Night 2010

This time seven years ago:
On Transcendence


Ian Wilcock said...

Hi Michael, we found out via facebook and went on Saturday. I was also impressed wiht the renovation displays and the range of exhibits on show. The prices to me seemed to be aimed at the entusiast as opposed to the collector whcih has to be a good thing. We will go next year.

Alexander said...

Close to Nadarzyn is also a car museum that is worth a visit.
On the road to Milanowek, in Pruszkowvisit.

It does not look like much from the outside, but inside are beautiful cars from Poland, and a lot of other countries.

Also interesting I think:

Best regards, Alexander

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Ian
Prices were a bit lower than UK; it's a supply (low) and demand (lower) thing :-) But the clincher is the labour costs at quality renovators.

@ Alexander
The museum in Otrębusy - used to visit it often when the children were little. Loved the collection. Haven't been for some ten years - should do one weekend! As for the Nowa Warszawa concept - there were a few Nowa Syrena prototypes on display at Ptak Expo. One made specially for Euro2012.