It only took a few text messages and a phone call to persuade us into taking part in the Oldtimer Club Belgrade’s oldtimer rally to Aranđelovac. Tropical circumstances with temperatures of over 35° Centigrade didn’t scare us, as we knew it is cooler at the slopes of the Bukulja mountain. The appealing schedule and the chance of getting to know new lovers of classic, not just old, cars was all we needed to pack our bags and start up the engine.
The first day started with a short drive to the initial meeting point, some 50 km away. We rode there in two cars, both 1961 models. The ‘Königsblaue’ Opel Kapitän led the white Volkswagen Beetle as we drove the old road. That put us right back in time. The whole trip could very well have happened in july of 1962, in stead of 2015. Same road, same cars. At our meeting point the organizers received us with fresh traditional homemade – read Turkish – coffee and cold mineral water. The cars already present could have graced any oldtimer meet or rally in the world. Interestingly enough, most of them were convertibles – two Mercedeses, two Alfa Spiders, one MG, two Triumphs and a Chrysler, joined by a Karmann Ghia. The rest of the cars were the organizer’s Chrysler, our Beetle and the Kapitän. Furthermore we saw a Renault 16, a Volvo Amazon, a beautiful blue Mustang, a white Mercedes, a very interesting Ford Taunus 17m Turnier, ‘something’ assembled using parts from various Citroëns and another home made convertible, the MTM.
We drove leisurely to the town of Mladenovac, where we met our friendly police escort, that took us in a very stylish convoy to Orašac, the place of the First Serbian Insurrection against the Ottoman empire in 1804. We were met by even more classics; a Renault Caravelle, a BMW Isetta, a Fiat X1/9, a Willys Jeep, a NSU Prinz and a couple of Porsche 911s. After visiting the memorial site and the museum, the tiny Isetta led the convoy to the Risovača cave at the entrance to the city of Aranđelovac. An important archaelogical and speleological site, with finds dating back to the Ice Age and artefacts proving that Neanderthals lived there.
At the cave’s tourist complex we were greeted by the first ever bus produced in Serbia, in 1938 under the Czech Praga license, now privately owned and fully restored, and a rare Holden Ambassador. As we enjoyed a cool 9°C inside the cave whilst exploring its beauty, we were joined by an interestingly painted Zastava 750, the car that has put Yugoslavia on wheels and has been produced less than 30 km away in Kragujevac. With it came a beautiful green Audi 100, a Peugeot 504 Coupé and a Jaguar Mark II. At the same time some cars that were delayed by various reasons, like clogged fuel pipes, caught up with the rest of the group.
We slowly drove to the resort where we had arranged accommodation. Parked in the cool shade we spent some leisurely hours chatting, having lunch and coffee, enjoying the local mineral water (Arandjelovac is where the famous Bukovička Banja, a healing spa, is located, and commercial mineral water Knjaz Miloš is bottled), talking about cars and last but not least, meeting new friends. In the early afternoon we took our rides to the towns’ main square, where we parked them for the general public to view and enjoy. There we were joined by another Chrysler convertible, an incredibly red Zastava 750 and a BMW series 6.
Summertime is tourist time, and Arandjelovac offered a lot – from a local fair, to quite a few concerts, to a leisurely walk in the Bukovička Banja park, which is also an open air gallery with sculptures by artists from all over the world, made from the excellent local marble. Our time scheme included a late venison dinner with live music in a local ethno complex and another morning of leisure until lunch on the next day.
All praise of course goes to the organizers, the Oldtimer club Belgrade, for the outstanding rally that boasted about 30 cars, from the little Isetta to the first Serbian bus sizewise, from late 1930s to the late 1970s age wise, most of them from the mid 1960s, including the legends of the domestic, European and American car industry. For those who weren’t as lucky to attend, enjoy the pictures!
Words: Djordje Grujić
Photos: Djordje Grujić, Lea Grujić
Editor: Marc GF Zaan