Ian Macaulay’s a serial Yugo 513 and Trabant owner - and still has one of each alongside a rare GAZ
Good things often come in threes, and Ian Macaulay’s collection is proof positive.
WORDS AND PHOTOS: SAM SKELTON
THE MAGIC NUMBER
The classic car bug is addictive. And Ian Macaulay has it. Never short of classics, his current fleet includes not only Eastern Bloc heroes, but also a pristine Mazda MX-5 and a delightful Austin Metropolitan. But partly by chance and partly by design, Ian has amassed a collection of very tidy examples of Soviet heroes spanning several Eastern Bloc marques and nations. And while global timing may not see his passion exactly welcomed by all, Ian is proof positive that those of us who adore Soviet classics can look beyond the global climate.
At heart, Ian’s love is for cars like the Trabant andYugo 513 – and these cars have both found their way back to him having been sold in the past. The Volga is more of a spur of the moment buy – and one which will shortly be taking to the road.
“Following visits to Cuba in 2018 and Uzbekistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan a year later, the large number of Volga 24s in daily use prompted thoughts of adding one to my own collection,” says Ian. While keen, he recognised that the rarity of the Volga 24 in the UK would make finding the right car difficult, and he resigned himself to a long wait. However, during Summer 2020 while browsing eBay, Ian found a Volga 24 for sale in Wiltshire. The car had been imported from Estonia in 2014, was correctly registered with the DVLA and was road legal. Black from new, the lack of history means nothing can be proven but the likelihood is that this car would have seen service as a tool of the state. Soviet security agencies loved the Volga, and a black example was almost guaranteed to strike fear into the average comrade should it be seen waiting for him at home after work...
Ian picks up the story with a deal to buy the Volga, with his Ford Mustang convertible in part exchange. “The car joined our collection during a convenient break in lockdown restrictions which allowed us to travel to Swindon and drive the car home.” But not all was as it had seemed with the Volga. “A total brake failure occurred on the return journey, confirming my suspicions that there hadn’t been much by way of routine maintenance since the car left Tallinn three years earlier.
Black and silver number plates, the absence of a rear fog lamp together with Russian headlamps which dipped to the right further enforced my view that a few blind eyes had been turned during the MOT test a couple of days before.”
The further Ian looked, the more presented itself. The car needed rather more than he had initially thought – with work to the brakes, the steering, the electrics, the clutch hydraulics, the exhaust and the fuelling system vital before the car would truly be roadworthy. Fortunately, the body and trim were in good order, and replacement parts can be sourced via specialists in Germany. “I can get most parts within five days and at reasonable cost. They can be cheaper in Eastern Europe, but they take months to arrive in some cases and it’s easier to deal with Germany.” As a precaution, Ian also discarded the original crossply tyres – he didn’t know how long they had been fitted, and the white-walled radials suit the shape. Eighteen months on from purchase, the car is almost ready to be submitted for a legitimate MoT – and Ian is looking forward to showing it off. “I’m hoping to use it for local shows, as well as for a SALT Soviet Auto Luxury Tour if it behaves. Watch this space!”
Despite the decadence of the Volga, Ian’s always liked the cars which show that all comrades are equal. And few cars are more equal than the Trabant. With a steel monocoque akin to a Rover P6, and panels made of a mixture of waste cotton and resin in a manner akin to Bakelite, the two stroke Trabant had become one of the most potent symbols of Soviet life in the lead up to the fall of the Berlin wall. And Ian was captivated by these cars as he saw them on the news.
“During 1989, in the months leading to November’s memorable fall of the Berlin Wall I would eagerly tune into the evening news, hoping for a glimpse of the strange little car which I later learned was the Trabant, an example of which I vowed would one day join my collection. In the years that followed, several Trabants came into my ownership, some good, some bad but each and every one had that all important ability to make me smile.”
A runaway truck destroyed a particularly nice example back in 2005, in a freak accident. “It propelled the Trabant through the front of my house, reducing the car to a few buckets of glass, plastic and fractured Duraplast, and my garage to a pile of rubble resulting in a somewhat hefty insurance claim. At this point, demoralised and upset, I vowed that my Trabant association was at an end and determined never to buy another.”
He did, of course. Seven years later, in November 2012, he bought the Capri Green 1987 Trabant you see in these images. It was being sold by a fellow member of the Wartburg-Trabant club, and one known for keeping his cars in perfect fettle. “The Trabant was a recent import from Hungary and had covered a genuine distance of 31,000Km, had never needed welding and was the best example I had owned to date.” Having detailed the engine bay thoroughly and replaced the steering column bushes, Ian was overjoyed to win the “Car of SALT” award during the 2013 Soviet Auto Luxury Tour event. But personal circumstances meant that C931SRB was advertised for sale in 2014 – and went to an enthusiast in Northampton. Having tried over the years to buy it back repeatedly and owned a number of inferior examples in a bid to recapture the magic, Ian once again decided that his days as a Trabant owner were over, and sold every single Trabant spare he had.
Fast forward seven years, and in September 2021 Ian received a phone call. It was the chap he’d sold the green Trabi to, asking if he was still interested in re-purchasing the car. “It had only covered a further 1000km in the seven years since he bought it from me and was now surplus to his collection. I immediately arranged a visit to view the car which happily was every bit as good as I remembered, having been meticulously maintained and kept in dry storage. A deal was struck which included a huge assortment of new and used spare parts plus a large collection of Trabant memorabilia, books and model cars.”
And it won’t be going anywhere again any time soon. Since buying the car back, Ian’s had it fully rustproofed underneath, replaced the seat covered with a brand new set sourced from Dresden, and effected a repair to a clutch are which snapped on a recent excursion and left him to return home in second gear.
“Whilst all of the cars in my collection make me smile, the Trabant somehow ticks boxes which the others can’t quite manage.”
And it’s not the only car in Ian’s collection that’s going to be sticking around. The story of his Yugo 513 is similar to that of the Trabant – owned, sold, regretted and subsequently repurchased, and again Ian won’t be making the same mistake twice.
“I purchased the Yugo 513 in August 2011 whilst working as magazine editor for the now sadly defunct Zastava Yugo Club UK,” says Ian. The club had been contacted by a dealership with links to a Yugo agent, and which had supplied Yugos locally in period. When a local elderly owner gave up driving, the garage repurchased his Yugo 513, and contacted the club to see if anyone might be interested in an example with a verified 9200 miles from new. Ian wasted no time, he viewed the car immediately and had it trailered home to be recommissioned. Unfortunately – as happens – life got in the way. The Yugo sat in the garage awaiting its recommissioning for eighteen months, and eventually Ian agreed to sell it to a collector of low mileage modern classics called Julian Pearson.
Julian undertook the process that time had denied Ian – he replaced most of the car’s rubber components, including the timing belt, tyres, gaiters and more, he had the underside fully rust protected with Dinitrol, and Dinitrol was also applied inside the box sections. The car otherwise remained as it was when it was first discovered by the club – in almost-new condition.
“Julian and I became friends and regularly chatted on Messenger until one evening a few years later when he informed me that his collection had peaked at 22 vehicles and ‘something had to go’. I offered to repurchase the Yugo but this was apparently a car he wanted to keep so I was offered a Morris Ital instead – an offer I politely declined. Fortunately, a few weeks later Julian did agree to sell the car back to me so in September 2019 it re-joined my collection. By this time the odometer reading had risen to just 9900 miles whilst figures obtained from the How Many Left website suggested it was one of only two 513s still registered with the DVLA.”
Since 2019 Ian has used the car sparingly, with its total now sitting just shy of 11000 miles. It’s needed scant work in that time – a new battery, alternator and front calliper seals have been all Ian’s needed to do, though he added a timing belt to the list just to be on the safe side. It might have done few miles since Julian had recommissioned the car, but six years is still a long time for a belt. The Yugo’s longest outing – and its most recent – was to Lincolnshire from Ian’s Staffordshire home, to attend the Festival of the Unexceptional.
“Sarah Crabtree of Bangers and Cash fame was present, and my Yugo attracted her attention. She was keen to hear its tale, and I have photographs of her with the car.”
While the Zastava Yugo Club UK no longer exists, there is a Facebook group for enthusiasts of UK Yugos, and Ian is an active member of the Yugo/Zastava UK group on that channel. Through this, he has located and helped to rehome the UK’s only other 513, which was recently discovered alongside a 511 in a barn in Kent. Both cars are now undergoing restoration.
What’s next for Ian’s fleet? “I’d like a more powerful convertible than the MX5 for touring, and I had considered a Jaguar XK8. The Metropolitan belongs to my wife, and that’s going nowhere – like the Trabant and the Yugo, it’s a keeper. I’d quite like to find another Zaporozhets at some point as I miss Zapo ownership, but for now I’m happy with the three Eastern Bloc classics I own.”
He replaced most of the car’s rubber components, including the timing belt, tyres, gaiters and more, he had the underside fully rust protected with Dinitrol…
Several Trabants came into my ownership, some good, some bad but each and every one had that all important ability to make me smile.”
The story of his Yugo 513 is similar to that of the Trabant – owned, sold, regretted and subsequently repurchased…
At heart, Ian’s love is for cars like the Trabant and Yugo 513 – and these cars have both found their way back to him having been sold in the past.
Trabi two stroke is almost unmistakable in sound.