In connection with the upcoming Rally Estonia, a rally-themed exhibition is now open on the bridge area of the Estonian National Museum (ERM) in Tartu. The exhibition includes three 1980s rally cars, eight karts and 255 rally car models.
The 1980s was certainly a golden decade for Estonian motorsport, with several Estonian teams representing the Soviet Union on the international arena each season. The Soviet team drove Lada VFTSs, which were produced at the Vilnius Transport Vehicles factory.
During that time, motorsport events were seen as a good way to advertise cars, and the Soviet Union team was sent to compete in countries that overlapped with Lada's markets. The aim was to demonstrate to the world just how good a car the Lada was.
Although most of the VFTS ended up as scrap, Estonian car enthusiasts have managed to 'revive' some of our drivers' machines. At the ERM, you can get up close and personal with cars used by three teams from that golden era, with mechanics having restored them as authentically as possible, right down to the nuts and bolts.
The model cars in the exhibition come from the private collection of Rauno Paltser, who has been collecting them for over 15 years. Paltser has almost 600 cars in his collection, 255 of which feature in the ERM exhibition.
Paltser's rarest and most valuable models are those that have been assembled from scratch in bespoke model shops by master craftsmen from around the world.
A major part of the display is taken up by miniatures of cars driven by Estonian drivers at various stages of their careers, including Ott Tänak, Markko Märtin, Karl Kruuda, Uno Aava and others.
Each of the eight karts on display in the exhibition is unique, with oldest a hand-made model built in Tallinn in 1963.
The rally exhibition is open until July 24, and is included in the price of admission to the museum. The Estonian National Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday inclusive between 10am and 6pm.
Editor: Michael Cole