These Greek Twins Share The Car Gene
Photography by Giorgos Karagiorgakis, Alexandros Liokis, Maria Venti, and Carmelo Giannone
Story by Thanos Pappas
When I was searching for an interesting Greek story of classic cars for Petrolicious, I knew the answer was hidden in a small garage near Athens, where twin brothers Alexandros and Theodoros Liokis share their love for automobiles and vintage collectibles.
The Liokis brothers have a beautiful collection between them; you will find a handful of Citroens (a DS, CX, GSA, and Ami), Renaults (a Fuego, R5, and Avantime), a Daimler Sovereign, a Panhard 24b, a Volvo 244GL, a Fiat 500, among other beautiful oddities from the past.
While the Liokis brothers are only 28 years old, they have been restoring and collecting cars since they were 13. In other words, no amateurs here.
Given their fascination with some of history’s more unique cars from a very early age, I had to know more of their story.
Thanos Pappas: What was the thing that started you off messing around with cars and their mechanical parts from such a young age?
Theodoros Liokis: We loved cars since we were born. We started by collecting scale models and gradually moved on to 1:1 scale, the real thing. Our passion grew larger when we discovered one of our fathers books, “A.A. Book of the Car,” along with a magazine article about the so-called 100 best cars. Those helped us to start appreciating the Citroen ID19 that was abandoned in our neighborhood, and with the help of our uncle, it became our first project car, signaling the start of our collection.
TP: 75% of your collection is French, is that a strange coincidence or does it show your predilection for that country’s automobiles from the ‘60s through ‘80s?
TL: We were, and still are, fascinated by the combination of sophisticated design and revolutionary technology with an affordable price that characterizes most of the French cars of that era. The exceptional ride quality and the fun-to-drive factor are also things we admired ever since we obtained our first DS.
Alexandros Liokis: As a car designer, I get attracted by provocative vehicles in general. But it is true that the DS was the car that influenced us more than any other. Furthermore, I have to say that a certain level of serendipity was a critical factor that enabled and facilitated our car collection since the majority of our cars were found orphaned and abandoned. We couldn’t keep ourselves from adopting these projects in order to preserve their stories. It just so happens that most are French, however I could give you long list of non-French cars that I would love to have in our garage too! One of our favorites though, our most beloved acquisition to-date, is our red Citroen DS21. It’s the Pallas edition too, so it has all the luxury stuff from 1969 that still holds up today; it drives like no other.
TP: In your eyes, what makes the DS so unique and timeless?
AL: I think it’s one of the very few cars, if not the only one, that combined revolutionary design with innovative mechanics and was also a commercial success. It defined the modern automobile; it’s not by chance that new cars have adaptive suspension, adaptive headlights, composite materials, etc. The shape is also just beautiful. It’s iconic and functional while the interior is spacious and ultra plush, so when you combine that with the great road handling it becomes unparalleled in comfort.
TL: When i talk about the DS, I always find my vocabulary insufficient to describe what this car truly embodies. It is a unique experience that is too special for comparison. In my opinion the DS is an exceptional car from every aspect; even the small imperfections it may have, they just make it more charming.
TP: Given that it seems like you share some of the same views on certain cars, how well do you two work together as a restoration team?
TL: We each have our areas of expertise. When it comes to car restoration, being a perfectionist can make things very difficult. In order to have something done properly, you probably have to do it yourself. That led me to learn how to fix mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical equipment. I also love working on upholstery, but I haven’t yet learned how to use a sewing machine!
AL: I believe we are pretty effective as a team, even though we definitely argue sometimes! I have always loved the visual aspect of automobiles, so I work on the bodies of the cars— the welding, hammering, painting etc. I started by assembling and creating scale models, then slowly moved on to painting and restoring classic cars. Now that I work professionally as a car designer for Alfa Romeo, I find that this hobby has helped me to understand shapes, volumes, and surfaces really well. In fact, the first full-scale model that I helped to design was shown at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show: the Alfa Romeo Gloria Concept. All those model kits paid off!
TP: Alexandros, as an exterior designer for Alfa Romeo, do you think it’s possible for young people today to enjoy a new car with the same passion people used to have in the ‘60s? Are we losing it with too much technology and regulations, or there is still hope?
AL: Nowadays cars have become extremely safe and easy to drive. It might be almost impossible to enjoy a new car in the same way that you could in the past, but enjoyment comes in different ways. Younger generations grew up with video games and cars are going in that direction. Today an entry-level hot hatch has similar horsepower to a 20-year-old supercar!
TP: If you had to choose one daily driver from your collection, what would that be?
TL: The answer is simple, and it is always Miata! I could talk for days justifying all the reasons why I believe that. I always liked the shape of the car and the pop-up headlights of the first generation, however, the minute I sat in the driver’s seat was I realized I had fallen in love with it. After a quick search I bought a proper example, restored it, and made it my daily driver. Most modern cars look and behave similarly to each other, but the Miata combines the simplicity, the pure mechanics, with a special character and this leaves you with a beautiful, fun to drive, and reliable car.
AL: I totally agree with Theodoros, but unfortunately for me he’s using the Miata already! So I drive the Renault R5. I love its simplicity. Especially how economic, reliable, and nimble it is. It’s good for the city even if it’s a bit slow… I believe classic cars are more exciting but also more demanding to drive, and that is a big part of their charm for me.
TP: As a final question, we know that car enthusiasts often by their nature want a bunch of cars, but what is the single one that you feel is truly missing from the current lineup?
AL: Ha! That’s a tough one… I can fill pages and pages with cars that I would like to own, but if I had to choose the missing piece of the puzzle right now, I would go with the Citroen SM. However, I am still waiting for the right Italian classic to cross my path some day, so who knows!