Home TravelsBulgaria Retro Cars Museum “Zlaten Rozhen” in the village of Kapatovo, Bulgaria

Retro Cars Museum “Zlaten Rozhen” in the village of Kapatovo, Bulgaria

20 minutes read

Why like vintage cars? Because every car carries a story. And even those who have only been driven for a few miles have a story why they were on the road for so little time. Cars are the thing that most often nowadays helps us to travel, and thus to experience adventures, emotions and explore the world around us. And imagine how much more emotions travelling by car used to bring 40-50-100 years ago? Today we dive into an adventure through the history of vintage cars from around the world in the Museum for retro cars Zlaten Rozhen in the village of Kapatovo, next to Wine Cellar Zlaten Rozhen.

You can load this article as a guide to the museum, or at least while the presented cars are are there. Because the idea of the museum is to provide a place for different collectors to display their cars.

Vintage Cars Museum Zlaten Rozhen, village of Kapatovo, Bulgaria
Vintage Cars Museum Zlaten Rozhen, village of Kapatovo, Bulgaria

The beginning: the Ford Model T

Did you know that between 1908 and 1927 were produced 15 million cars from the legendary Ford Model T? The Model T was the world’s first mass-market automobile, changing not only the lives of middle-class Americans at the time, but also notions of transportation and travel in general. The most distinctive thing about this car is that it was affordable – a worker in Ford’s factories could buy it with 4 months’ wages.

Ford Model T from 1912 at the Zlaten Rozhen vintage car museum
Ford Model T from 1912 at the Zlaten Rozhen vintage car museum

In the vintage car museum in the village of Kapatovo, a Model T from 1912 proudly stands. Its power is 22 hp and develops up to 68 km/h. It comes from the personal collection of the museum owner and vintage car collector Teodor Osikovski. And this 110+ year old car is still moving, like all the other cars in the museum. They won’t let you climb in it, but the kids were allowed to try its horn. The horn is airborne and our kids couldn’t handle it.

How do you work with this? The Ford Model T horn is for strong hands
How do you work with this? The Ford Model T horn is for strong hands

Where to start?

We walk into the vintage car museum and literally wonder where to start exploring the dozens of cars that take us back to different times. The Ford Model T, which we started with, is at the top of the line of historic American cars, most of which are the only examples in Bulgaria. At the other end are impressive cars used by Bulgarian leaders during the Communist regime.

Vintage Cars Museum Zlaten Rozhen, village of Kapatovo, Bulgaria
Vintage Cars Museum Zlaten Rozhen, village of Kapatovo, Bulgaria

In the middle two rows the picture is extremely colourful. We are greeted by miniature cars from the times when there were no particular standards for vehicles and manufacturers were extremely creative. Among them there are also flagship models from the 70s and 80s of world leaders such as Mercedes and BMW. A small sports car, made in Bulgaria – Bulgaralpin, is also there – for us quite a curious car, for our parents – not so much, because there was a time when they regularly saw similar cars on the streets.

There are also cars that have hardly been driven. An example is a red Ferrari 348 from 1991, which has only a few thousand miles. And it is the only car in the collection that is not in motion, below we will explain why. And at the back of the hall there is a whole wall of motorcycles. As colourful as the ideas of various inventors and mechanics from all over the world in the times when there were no standards and creativity was unlimited.

All kids of curious artefacts in the museum Zlaten Rozhen
All kids of curious artefacts in the museum Zlaten Rozhen

Let’s start from somewhere and tell about the most interesting cars in the collection.

Mercedes-Benz 220D

Opposite the Ford Model T, which we started with, is the car that is at the core of Teodor Osikovski’s passion for vintage cars, and without it this museum would never exist. This is the Mercedes-Benz 220D. The model is from 1969 and the curious thing about it is that it was produced in the same day and year as its owner. At the time, it was Mercedes’ mid-size sedan, positioned below the S-Class.

Mercedes-Benz 220D
Mercedes-Benz 220D from 1969.

1926 Cadillac Series 314 – the eternal car

And while all the beautiful cars in the museum have been restored in one way or another, there is one that has been preserved in its original form. We can call it literally eternal, because it was produced back in 1926 and is still running. Unlike the Ford Model T, this was a far more expensive and high-end car, which is still noticeable today.

Cadillac Series 314
Cadillac Series 314 – Zlaten Rozhen Vintage Car Museum

Cadillac like the one Elvis had

In the line with American cars, it is noticeable that their dimensions are significantly larger than those of European ones. This is completely understandable when we talk about the economy and cars in the years after the war. While Europe tries to get back on its feet, overseas the industry is booming. And now we’re standing next to another huge car over 6 meters long – a 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine.

Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine, manufactured in 1958.
Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine, manufactured in 1958.

Automatic gears, electric seats, air conditioning and mind-blowing luxury; Officials at the museum said that parking it was indeed a challenge and like all other cars, it entered the museum on its own. It is known that Elvis Presley had the same model car, but produced a little later, pink in color and encrusted with gold and diamonds.

We want to tell you about each car separately, but the article will have to become a book. And you should have an incentive to visit the museum and hear the stories of the cars yourself. And after that you will sit down for tasting and rest in wine cellar Zlaten Rozhen, which is only meters from the museum. That’s why we continue with stories about a few more cars and more photos.

ZIS 110 and 110B

We proceed to the line of parked cars from the former National Security Service fleet, carrying the communist leaders of the Bulgarian state. Here they are, two ZIS’s made in 1951 and 1952 and used from the 50’s to the 70’s. It was the first post-war car produced in the USSR. Production ended in 1958 and a total of 2,089 cars were produced; Exported to all countries of the former “Council for Mutual Economic Assistance”;

ZIS 110B of the Bulgarian State fleet in the 1950s to 1970s
ZIS 110B of the Bulgarian State fleet in the 1950s to 1970s
ZIS 110
ZIS 110

Gift from Ceausescu: Aro 304

This car was a gift from Nicolae Ceausescu to Todor Zhivkov for hunting in the 1980s and has a reinforced floor. The story is that Ceausescu came to visit his counterpart Todor Zhivkov to go hunting, and asked him what car they were going in. Apparently he did not receive a satisfactory answer and arrived with this, a gift.

Aro 304, of which only 6 pieces were produced.
Aro 304, of which only 6 pieces were produced.

Outside of the political history, however, the car itself as an automobile is also a unique model. Only 6 examples of model 304 were produced between 1977 and 1988. Of these, 3 were gifted – one to Todor Zhivkov, one to Erich Honecker and one to the Chinese party leader at the time. Later, 4 more cars of the model were produced with some improvements, known as the 306. Of all these cars only 3 survived today, one of which you can see in the Museum of vintage cars Zlaten Rozhen in the village of Kapatovo. This and the above two models were provided to the museum by the National Secirity Service.

Ferrari 348 tb from 1991.

One more car, owned by the National Security Service but not used by the service, is this Ferrari from 1991. Its story is that it was confiscated by the Bulgarian authorities in 1993 and was placed in state storage. It was removed only in 2023, cleaned and given to the museum.

Ferrari 348 tb from 1991;
Ferrari 348 tb from 1991;

This is also the only car in the exhibition that is not in motion, as it has no registration and is not allowed to drive on the roads. This was the last V8 model developed under Enzo Ferrari’s direction before his death, put into production posthumously.

The most beautiful car in the world – Jaguar E-Type

Speaking of Ferraris, Enzo Ferrari himself calls the Jaguar E-Type “the most beautiful car in the world.” Among other things, it was one of the fastest models of its time and reached a speed of 240 km per hour. It was presented on 15 March 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show. It was originally developed as a racing car, but the manufacturer decided to put it into production as a road car. Owners of this legendary model were Steve McQueen, Bridget Bardot, Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Mick Jagger and others. More than 90% of these cars were sold in the USA;

Jaguar E-Type
Jaguar E-Type

Small cars with big stories

There are dozens of cars on display in the museum, as well as many motorcycles. The variety of rare models of world leaders such as Merzedes Benz and BMW is noticeable. But no less impressive are the tiny cars, whose stories, however, are equally impressive.

Sports car Bulgaralpine from 1968;
Sports car Bulgaralpine from 1968;

Made in Bulgaria

For people at our age (around 40) the automobiles looking like the Bulgaralpine from 1968 were nothing to be seen on the streets. That’s why we are interested to hear about this small but curious stroller with a sporty look. It was produced by the Bulgarian company Bullet, which previously partnered with Renault and assembled Bulgarrenault. The partnership with Alpine was based on a similar principle. After the assembly of the first few Bulgaralpine cars in late 1967, the car became a hit in Europe and the USA and even two cars participated in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1968.

Steyr 50

Steyr 50 is a mini car built in 1937 Austria and one of the first cars to feature a design in which the tires and fenders are placed inside the body rather than outside.

The Steyr 50 is an extremely attractive small car. Behind it is the van of Vasko Krapkata (Vasko the Patch), a Bulgarian blues singer and musician popular from the 1980s on. He recently donated the car to the museum.
The Steyr 50 is an extremely attractive small car. Behind it is the van of Vasko Krapkata (Vasko the Patch), a Bulgarian blues singer and musician popular from the 1980s on. He recently donated the car to the museum.

Messerschmitt KR-200

It looks more like the cockpit of a mini plane than a car. It is a tricycle with an upward opening door, produced at the factory of the German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt from 1955 to 1964. In the post-war years, demand for similar economy cars in Germany was high, but as the economy took off, production ceased.

Messerschmitt KR-200
Messerschmitt KR-200

Isetta

This is another exotic looking car today, but quite popular for its time. The original Isetta was created in Italy, after which the license was sold to several other countries – Argentina, Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany and the UK. In 1955, the BMW Isetta became the world’s first mass-produced car to achieve a fuel consumption of 3 l/100 km and was a bestseller. And while not a rare model, it is a curious piece of world automotive history.

If you’re wondering how it feels like in this micro car, you can even climb in. And we tried it and the kids definitely liked it better

BMW Isetta
BMW Isetta
BMW Isetta
BMW Isetta

Back to the Ford Model T

If you read into the history of this car, you will learn that it was much more than what we use cars for today.

The Model T was produced at a time when pavement on the streets was rare, so it was running in all conditions. It served both as a means of locomotion and as a machine for carrying out work of a varied nature, mainly agricultural. On it were hung threshers, plough, various other agricultural machines; There are variations of the model such as a postal car, a fire truck and even an armoured car.

To increase sales, the company’s strategy was to open local sales offices in literally every city in the US. Car clubs are also being set up to help people travel more. We have many occasions to bow down to Henry Ford and visionaries like him, who saw the automobile not just as a means of transportation, but as an essential part of the modern way of life.

Ford Model T
Ford Model T

The museum that lives in the present

The Retro Cars Museum Zlaten Rozhen is an extremely lively and dynamic structure. Its aim is not to display exhibits that have long since fallen out of use, but on the contrary – to support enthusiasm and keep alive legendary cars that deserve to be displayed

The collection of cars and motorcycles in the retro museum Zlaten Rozhen
The collection of cars and motorcycles in the retro museum Zlaten Rozhen

Thus, about half of the exhibits are the property of Teodor Osikovski, and the rest – provided by their owners, including, as we found out, the Bulgarian state itself; The idea is that every enthusiast and collector of vintage will be able to leave their possessions for responsible storage and maintenance, and at the same time more people will be able to get acquainted with them; So the exposition is quite dynamic, and many of the cars are often brought out to participate in parades, competitions and various events with vintage cars.

“Zlaten Rozhen”

And for the final or not only, we advise you not to miss the wine cellar “Zlaten Rozhen”. Be sure to stop there for a tasting of their wines. We have many favorites of their wines and always recommend them as a destination.

One more proof that the museum looks to the future, not to the past: immediately before the museum and the wine cellar there are charging stations for electric cars. So leave your electric car to charge in peace, take a tour of the museum, then do a quick tasting at the winery (the driver only tastes, please!) and let us know how it went; There are combined tickets for museum + tasting.

“Zlaten Rozhen” – the hotel, is located in the village of Rozhen , several kilometres from the winery and very close to the Rozhen Monastery. The air there is wonderful if you decide to make a quiet and pleasant overnight stay after the tours in the region.

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