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Optimism in Iraq fuels revived interest in vintage cars

Optimism in Iraq fuels revived interest in vintage cars

Optimism in Iraq fuels revived interest in vintage cars
January 17
13:55 2018
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An Iraqi soldier holds an Islamic State flag during a battle with Islamic State militants, north of Mosul, Iraq.

Ari Jalal | Reuters

An Iraqi soldier holds an Islamic State flag during a battle with Islamic State militants, north of Mosul, Iraq.

Many Iraqis from war-battered areas are desperate to sell old cars, and as Iraqi forces have driven IS back over the past three years, more and more models have appeared on the market, al-Nuaimi said. His latest acquisition was a badly damaged maroon 1952 Chevrolet from Salahuddin province, where IS was driven out in 2015.

He restores the cars himself, ordering spare parts from Europe and the United States.

The government keeps its own trove of vintage cars, including a rare 1904 Jeep Levon and luxury models used by the Hashemite monarchy from 1921 until 1958, including a 1936 Mercedes-Benz that was a gift from Adolf Hitler. Others belonged to Uday, the notoriously brutal *** son of Saddam Hussein.

Some have had their bodywork restored but do not have working engines, while others are in very poor condition.

The collection is stored in a garage for safe-keeping and is only rarely exhibited to the public. Adil al-Ardawi, the vintage car expert in charge of the royal collection, says at least 1,000 troops were assigned to protect the cars when they were used in a parade last year to mark the 100th anniversary of Baghdad’s al-Rashid Street.

Ahmad Shukor, a 39-year-old engineer who runs a Facebook page devoted to documenting Iraq’s vintage cars, says only around 100 remain nationwide. He says a third were in Mosul, and that many of them may have been damaged or destroyed.

He’s now in the final stages of opening a vintage car showroom in the central city of Najaf. The owners of more than 60 cars have agreed to display them there when the showroom opens in the coming months.

“We want to prove that Iraq is not done yet,” he said.



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