Its angled belfry occupies a avant-garde capital in the average of the abundant burghal of Athens, alone a few afar from one of the world’s age-old wonders — the 447 B.C. Parthenon aerial aloft the Acropolis — and a block from the National Archaeological Building area the country’s 3,400 year’s of history is displayed.
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As avant-garde Athenians canyon by en avenue to assignment and home, the Hellenic Motor Museum’s annular belfry holds the history of one man’s chase for archetypal and avant-garde cars and automobilia in his Greek homeland.
Founded by absolute acreage developer Theodore N. Charagionis, the building starts with a ground-floor window affectation of angry Abarth sports cars as able-bodied as a adequate archetypal 1960s Mustang notchback. Stroll up its axial ramp, and you chase the history of the caster – from a simple board disc from age-old times, on up to avant-garde ones like a five-spoke Fuchs admixture auto from a Porsche 911. Afresh the third attic aperture opens on a arced antechamber with archetypal cars arresting abaft bottle walls.
Instead of accession cars he admired personally, Charagionis said he begin ones that could brainwash Greeks who had not apparent them because of the country’s aerial taxes on alien items. So he was “collecting everything” to accomplish it as ample as possible, afresh affectation best pieces of his huge 350-plus car accumulating in the average of Athens and its 665,000 residents.
“The abstraction for the building was to use my possibilities as a acreage developer to acquisition about bargain acreage in the burghal center. This is what is missing worldwide.” he said. “In Los Angeles, there are absurd museums. If we booty out the Petersen, which is in the average of the city, but it’s a actual boundless city. If you go to the Mullin Accumulating or Nethercutt, you accept to go by auto if you are a tourist. You cannot booty a bus or walk. The abstraction was to actualize article downtown.”
Tall and alluringly dressed, Charagionis walks us accomplished aloof some of the classics, sports cars and racers he has accumulated aback 1977, aback he went to a government bargain and bought a baby collection — Maserati Mistral, Rolls Royce Wraith, two Jaguar E-types, a brace of Lancia Appia Zagatos, two Austin Healey 3000s and three Dinos. One of those red 1974 Dinos, its 2.4-liter V-6 putting out a almighty 195 horsepower, is a favorite. It stands agleam and able-bodied amid a 70th ceremony of Ferrari display.
“It was illegally alien to Greece, so I took it in an auction,” he said. “It’s a absurd car and I accept it is one of the best-designed cars all-round. They say it has feminine lines.”
His absorption in cars was afire by his father, who operated a garage, which became his claimed workshop, he said.
“It gave me huge possibilities,” Charagionis said. “My ancestor was an importer of Triumph sports cars in the 1960s, so I had abounding experiences. But from the beginning, I actual abundant admired cars and motor racing. My mother approved to stop me from affairs a motorbike, adage ‘You are crazy and you will be killed.’ So alone cars.”
New cars are big-ticket in Greece due to taxation. But his absorption grew into the architecture and automated ancillary of cars, additional what he alleged “tasting the possibilities of a car in a race.” In 1977, Charagionis begin a Jaguar to restore on top of his aboriginal car, a 1967 Triumph, and the accumulating began. By 1990, he had accomplished 25 cars.
“I said, OK, instead of adequate my collection, I will detach the collection, because it is too abundant for one person,” he said with a chuckle. “Then I had a buzz alarm from a Greek beneficiary with addition 25 cars, who told me, ‘I am fed up.'”
Those cars were offered for auction and afterwards two years of negotiations, Charagionis bought them.
“So instead of accession cars I like personally, I started accession cars that could brainwash Greeks who had not apparent absorbing cars because of the taxation,” he said. “So I was accession everything. I would like to accomplish it as ample as possible.”
The city armpit was started in 1999 and done a decade later. There are 72 auto in that circling access display, activity four floors. Afresh its 323,000-square-foot amplitude offers allowance for about 300 cartage on three levels with a axial atrium, additional auditorium, a Formula 1 chase car actor in the lobby, a café and memorabilia store.
There is a full-size diorama of a archetypal British adjustment shop, centered on a beautiful 1931 Morris Minor. Afresh comes an arrangement of canning cars that are unrestored, yet able-bodied cared-for. It starts with a horse-drawn 1895 Hunnia blaze pump, and a 1906 Ford Model N Runabout with a 6.3-horsepower motor. An arty 1918 American LaFrance two-seat speedster, congenital in Elmira, N.Y., is adjacent with massive 14.5-liter engine. Across, a aerial 1926 Avion Voisin Roadster C4 with aluminum anatomy and 55-horsepower engine, a “mother-in-law” bench hidden beneath its boat-tail rear coachwork.
A accurate Abundant Gatsby affectionate of car is a red and argent 1927 Lincoln Sport Roadster, begin half-buried in a addled river coffer in Athens, partly restored, afresh accomplished by the museum. A European calculation would be added acceptable to drive a academic red and atramentous 1930 Bugatti Type 44 DHC, abutting to a 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux Auto in atramentous over chicken with steeply raked windshield. Added French abstract abound like a glassy Delage D8 15S Drophead Auto nearby.
German and Italian sports cars accomplish up added genitalia of the display, including a curvaceous 1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500, a hardly sun-worn bolt autogenous inside. His Alfa Romeo accumulating would commonly go area the Ferraris are now, like his Montreal, Junior Zagato, 2600 convertible and auto and Guilia GTA, “a actual appropriate car,” he said.
“These are the best important,” Charagionis said. “I accept abounding others, like a Giulia and GT. What you accept apparent upstairs, the 6C, is a altered car, yes?”
Then there are the Ferraris, like a 250 GTE 2 2, and 512BB Boxer.
“By Pininfarina again, but this is a altered approach,” he said. “After that, there’s the Testarossa, alike added boxy.”
They accompany added Italian beauties like a Facel Vega Facella F2B and a actual glassy argent Lancia Appia Zagato.
“Concerning desirability, I am, Italian. Concerning history and inspiration, my best antagonism successes are with the 1961 Lotus Elite, the one upstairs” he said. “With this, I accept raced at Le Mans. I got third abode in the achievement index.”
Charagionis said he has raced four times in the Le Mans Classic, an ability chase for best chase cars captivated at the acclaimed French track.
Tucked in one corner, an oh-so-American trio — a blush 1959 Chrysler Imperial Crown convertible, additional a first-generation 1955 Ford Thunderbird convertible and a 1957 Lincoln Premier. Nearby, a 1960 Auto Union 1000 Sp Coupe, an accessible archetype of that T-Bird — bottomward to the fins in back.
Charagionis says some abundant cars were advised or fabricated by Greeks, like Alec Issigonis, the artist of Mini, and Jean Daninos, the Greek-French architect of Facel Vega, he said. And he has Greek-made cars like a three-wheel 1980 Tzen Tonako microcar, and a boxlike 1974 Namco Pony congenital in Thessaloniki. But the abridgement of acquaintance cars is because of a abridgement of a accomplishment basement to abutment a car-maker, and a abridgement of automated mentality like Germany or America, he said.
There are some all-embracing choices as well, like a 2381-B.C. Flintstones two-seater with bottom power, and a 1936 Chrysler Royale repainted as a New York Burghal badge car for use in a “Captain America” film. Educational displays are evident, such as the 1964 Lancia Flavia, its anatomy and anatomy afar so you can see its anatomy and front-wheel-drive design.
It’s a affectation that’s ever-changing, abounding times to account anniversaries like Ferrari, Porsche and Lotus.
“Next year will be the 70 years of Zagato, actual aperitive cars,” he said.
The 70th ceremony of Jaguar’s XK120 is advancing soon.
For added information, go to hellenicmotormuseum.gr/en.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549
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