Hungary is home to just 10 million people, but the Jalopnik car density scale is off the charts. So what does it look like when the country’s classic car enthusiasts descend on one spot? This. And it is magical.
People tend to think that Hungarians could only end up with the crappy cars made by the Eastern Bloc during the four decades of Russian occupation. That’s true, at least “officially.” However, important people and friends of the Soviets including doctors, lawyers, and high ranking officials managed to get a hold of Western cars against all odds.
Here’s proof in a photo from 1973 showing the main road leading to the Elisabeth Bridge rebuilt just nine years before.
Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Citroën, Opel, and who knows what else, in the middle of Budapest.
All of this means is that when the Russians finally got the hell out of the country, there were many classics that got put away in barns when the parts supply dried up.
Other folks stuck with the Soviet cars they grew up with, or became attached to them for exactly the opposite reason, and of course the American car community grew once importing cars from overseas became a walk in the park.
This year’s Oldtimer Premier was organized by the Beetle, the Mini, and the Trabant-Wartburg clubs of Hungary, but everybody was welcome, so nobody stayed home.
These are hardly the greatest photos of my career, mostly due to my camera being broken, but I just want to give you an idea of what it’s like around here. Who knows? Maybe you see something new.
We appreciate these more I guess.
What’s a Barkas? An East-German van with a two-stroke!
And the Robur? East-German for something bigger.
So rare, I can’t afford them.
Ask Matt Hardigree about the first one, I’ll take the Fiat Spyder.
I’m sure the 500 still gets you laid.
It’s a Trabant, but not the one you know. Meet the P50!
There was a time when Wartburgs had curves.
It’s the right size, isn’t it?
A complicated family.
Yes. 850cc, and all the style in the world.
Not a Fiat, not an Autobianchi, not a Puch. This is a Vespa 400!
GM Europe at its best.
That factory sun visor is the Holy Grail of Trabants.
Alfetta means hell yes in many languages.
This was the big one from Poland, and it’s a very nice classic today.
America would have loved this.
Żuk. Google it.
In case you weren’t into cabriolets.
Stock, not so stock.
Choose an organ.
Not sure which one is heavier.
Volga wagon. Perfect for everything.
You either fit, or you don’t. It’s not Bertone’s fault.
Oh yes, these are hard to find by now.
I almost bought a C Kadett once.
Couldn’t be more different.
As I said, doctors and lawyers.
When Opels were rallying.
Maybe this was GM Europe’s best.
Sharks. We like them.
P plate: just in!
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. It’s a yes.
I don’t know anything about motorcycles except that they don’t have A-pillars.
It’s an all-wheel drive Steyr-Fiat. Never seen one before.
I drove one and it’s slow, but who cares?
Nobody cared for the Ladas for so long, but now, their time has come.
It’s going to be a dry spare, but at least a full-sized one!
T2 over the Ducks (we call the 2CV).
Not so original, still awesome.
RS. I want to drive one badly.
Triumph Spitfire in standard mode.
The Mark 2 GTI is the new Mark 1 GTI.
The ambulance please.
More wagon goodness.
Is it fast? It looks fast.
Mini Club Hungary.
It would be a good race between these two.
The local Mini community is pretty amazing.
And of course somebody had an Innocenti!
Say what you want, it’s cool.
Better than a GTI.
A V6 or sunshine?
I’ll take the red one.
And both of these.
Hey, DeLorean Club Hungary!
Velorex. Don’t go near one, or you die.
Where is Jason Torchinsky?
And the guys from Roadkill?
Practical beyond belief.
Now you see the difference.
Prepared for smaller fires in the Italian section.
Look at that four-stroke Wartburg pickup! It’s perfect.
Yeah, still a no.
It’s not just a motorhome, it’s a classic Mercedes motorhome.
Vespa meets Porsche.
Patina it is.
This yellow works well on the C7 as well.
Talking of rare Volkswagens.
When your Niva gets stuck, this might be the answer. GAZ 69.
Also just in.
She is fine.
Yes, this is the one Matt drove!
Not half bad, is it?
Photo credit: Fortepan and Máté Petrány/Jalopnik