Posted by: viewfromtheriva | December 1, 2013

Split becomes the world’s vintage car capital for a few days as it welcomes FIVA and vintage auto enthusiasts from 54 countries!


FIVA delegates got a calendar filled with  gorgeous photos from various classic car gatherings here in Split over the years

FIVA delegates got a calendar filled with gorgeous photos from various classic car gatherings here in Split over the years

Isn’t life grand when a chance meeting with someone turns into something special.  A few weeks back I met Slobodan Jelic, a long-time resident of the city who runs the art supplies shop opposite the Post office next to the Semafor cafe.  Over a cup of coffee it turns out that Slobo not only is an avid vintage auto enthusiast, but a veritable Boswell of the history of automobiles in Croatia.

A fabulous Austin Healey with a Triumph TR5 behind on the Riva in Split

A fabulous Austin Healey, with a Triumph TR5 behind it, on the Riva in Split

Slobo is vice president of the Croatian Oldtimer Association, an auto club made of members who own automobiles that are more than 30 years old. Such cars in Croatia have special plates and can only be driven a certain number of kilometers every year.  As a result of our great climate and proximity to most of Europe, there are a LOT of classic cars here and keeping them in great condition is still a labor of love, but less hassle and less expensive than in more industrialized parts of the globe.

The club is a member of the international organization of vintage car enthusiasts known as FIVA, the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens, with headquarters in Brussels.  It represents more than 1,500,000 individual historic vehicle enthusiasts from 64 countries.

As a result of some very effective  lobbying,  Slobo and his fellow members pulled off a real coup and  persuaded FIVA to have their annual assembly here in Split this year.  Slobo”s responsibility was to not only make it all happen, but to produce a comprehensive historical “memento” of automotive history in Croatia, a calendar and other commemorative keepsakes for the delegates.

Still a baby by old timer standards, our 20 year old Mercedes 230E is still a classic beauty!

A baby by old timer standards, our 20 year old Mercedes 230E is still a classic beauty!

Owning a 1993 Mercedes (I will have to wait another 10 years for it to be consider at “old timer”) and still crazy over MG’s, Austin Healey’s, TR3’s, Morgans and other classic cars I will never be able own, of course  I volunteered to spruce up the English text.

The cover of the 144 page Memento, documenting the history of  motorized vehicles in Croatia

The cover of the 144 page Memento, documenting the history of motorized vehicles in Croatia

The 144 page book, lavishly illustrated with photos and graphics from as far back as the turn of the century, was printed with Croatian, English and French texts.  The first Split citizen to own a car here?  His honor, the mayor, Dr. Vicko Mihaljevic, in 1907.

License plates are a key factor in sourcing historical records

License plates are a key factor in sourcing historical records

From Nov. 16 to 18th, some 120 delegates from 54 FIVA countries (as far away as China and Argentina!) met at the LeMeridien to elect a new president, Patrick Rollet from France, and focus on activities for the coming year.

The Memento even has illustrations of some of the early advertising for cars here in Split

The Memento even has illustrations of some of the early advertising for cars here in Split

The key issue for FIVA and all lovers and owners of vintage cars is making sure “…yesterday’s vehicles can use tomorrow’s roads….” .  Good news, FIVA has successfully lobbied the European Parliament to include an amendment to the new Roadworthiness Testing Directive to make this possible!

A 1929 parade of cars on the Riva, when it was still being used as a road. Marjan Hill is in the background and notice the crowd perched along the top of the seawall on the left!

 

Riva 3

Slobo himself owns a number of classic cars, including a stunning red 1963 Jaguar XKE convertible (hard to believe this iconic sports car is 50 years old!).

When we met a few days ago, Slobo talked about the local club’s next event. Between Christmas and New Year’s the Split club and the one in Zadar have a drive-in where everyone gets a chance to run out their old timers and meet half-way for good talk and a good lunch.

“I’m going to take the Jaguar….would you be interested in driving my classic MG as part of this event,” he said.

Be still my heart!  An MG?  Wire wheels?  Top down?  All the way to Skradin and back?

Now this will be a blog to remember!

 

 

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