May 12th, 2011

A Brief History of Luxury Motoring in Hungary, 1971-2011

hungary-luxury-now-and-then.jpg

Then: Well-connected members of the ruling elite ply Budapest in foreign-made vehicles seen as nothing special in the West but breathtakingly exotic and luxurious to average Hungarians, filled up with fatty bacon and other hard-to-obtain delicacies they get as bribes from favor-seekers. Everyone else takes the bus home, grumbling, and eats cabbage.

Now: Well-connected members of the ruling elite ply Budapest in foreign-made vehicles seen as nothing special in the West but breathtakingly exotic and luxurious to average Hungarians, filled up with Jamón serrano and other hard-to-obtain delicacies they buy at the gourmet shop with the cash bribes they get from favor-seekers. Everyone else takes the bus home, grumbling, and eats cabbage.

And here is what people were saying back before we forced readers to use Facebook to comment. Weren't those the days?
  1. "Lada 1200 Memories" Jackson says:

    My uncle has a pristine Lada 1200 in his garage. I believe it’s either a 1974 or 1975 with 120,000 km on the odo. Let’s see… That’s a 38 year old car that still runs VERY well and doesn’t burn any oil. Where do you think your BMW is going to be in 4 decades? Pffft…

  2. Szabad Ember says:

    @Jackson

    Until a few years ago, I owned a 1986 BMW with
    over 200,000 kilometers on it, and it ran like a
    dream. We had to take it in every year for
    maintenance and at least one significant repair,
    but it still looked and ran nicely with its
    leather seats and power everything.

    The point is, any car can look and run great,
    if you’re willing to take excellent care of it and
    spend plenty of money on it. For this reason,
    most antique cars are owned by people who fix them
    personally. I’m positive that a BMW takes less
    work and money to maintain in good condition than
    a Lada. There are exceptions, of course, but if
    that hideous BMW SUV were driven as sparingly in
    the next 38 years, it would probably be in even
    better shape than your uncle’s Lada.

  3. C'est Moi says:

    Szabad – Unfortunately you will never be able to repair any sort of new car, they are just to complex. Therefor in 10/20 years mechanics will just stop making repairs on them, as opposed to cars bought pre-1990 or so.

  4. Rudolf says:

    My bacsi up in Tihany moved here from the states
    after his retirement. He was lusting for a BMW and
    he got one, never a problem with it and he takes it
    in for the yearly maintenance which is they suck all
    the fluids out of it and put new ones and they
    change all the belts and mickey mouse stuff. Has
    over 280k kilometers on it and runs like a dream
    still. Yes it is garaged and is pretty good looking
    for a 1992. When I move back there, I am lusting for
    a 1976 2002 version.

  5. Farkas László says:

    “Everyone else takes the bus home, grumbling, and eats cabbage.”

    How true. The consequences of this stagnation for ordinary folks have had political repurcussions as well. Between “then” and “now” a lot of parties have risen and fallen, as well as the rise of a protest parties like Jobbik and LMP.

    Heaven help us if that quote still applies 20 years from now.

  6. Tanitani says:

    It may be true that cars might not have the
    longevity anymore (for the mentioned unrepairability
    issue), but they certainly have the endurance with
    basic maintenance provided.
    My 1998 Toyota Camry (all leather, power everything,
    yet NOT a luxury car in the true sense of the word)
    has 286463 km on the ODO runs excellently, and I
    fully expect it to run another 120000 kms easily in
    the next 4 or 5 years.

    However, the main point in the “Brief History” above
    is indeed a sad. Although, I hope that with the
    ingenuity existing in Hungary there would be
    something better than cars for transportation in
    another 20 years…

  7. wolfi says:

    Horses ?

    Or bicycles ?

    Difficult to decide …

  8. Tanitani says:

    Maybe. But I was thinking more along the line of
    family hover crafts powered by antigrav engines. ;-)

  9. "Lick My Exhaust Pipe" Jackson says:

    I am not saying that the BM’s are bad cars. What I am saying is the maintenance, parts overall cost of ownership is through the roof. If the fuel injection goes out on a BM, you will NOT repair it since we are talking THOUSANDS of dollars to fix it. I have an 8 yr old Camry v6 with 140,000 miles on it. (about 230,000 km) and have never done anything other than batteries, brakes, water pump and fluids. Having said that, I will NOT be fixing ANYTHING on the car once it breaks down because it would cost me more to have the engine and transmission rebuilt than it would to buy the same car in used condition with 80,000 miles on it. In other words, once a modern car gets a bit worn out, it’s worth it’s weight in steel…

  10. Farkas László says:

    Talk about luxury motoring in Hungary, here is a classic comedy film (In Hungarian, with no subtitles) called “Meseautó (1934) with Kabos Gyula:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXfBsl0wuAM

    (The youtube poster has enabled the entire film to play in one continous swipe, instead of the usual 10 minute segments. He also has posted a lot of other classic Hungarian films as well)

    The film is a romantic comedy involving a factory owner’s rich son and a woman employee that focuses around a luxury German made Horch car on display in a Budapest showroom!

    For those who can understand, enjoy the flick!

 
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