On the way home from Radnor yesterday, we came across this familiar Soviet show car that’s made the rounds in Greenwich and Scarsdale. The owner and his friends all keep old Russian cars going, including a Lada (owned by Roman Grudinin, who has taken excellent care of it) and a 1980s ZiL which showed up at Greenwich this summer and nearly wrecked what’s left of my hearing. This blue and white Volga has been at a ton of shows and it was also at Radnor–we caught it on the way home and I felt obligated to take a rolling shot. Who says Communist cars can’t look swanky?
-Albert S. Davis
Last year, a young man named Roman Grudinin brought with him a Lada to show at Greenwich and won the award for Best Special Interest Car. This year, yet another piece of Soviet iron took away the hardware–but this time, it did so in the lap of true Luxury (only with a capital L, for Lenin). Say hello to the ZiL 41045 limousine. ZiL was a company in the former USSR which mainly built trucks, but also made cars on the side for either the super rich or the ultimate in politicians (high ranking members of the Politburo, KGB, or the Premier himself). The 4104 series was made until the mid 1980s, and this particular model, a 41045 sedan, was the state vehicle of none other than Mikhail Gorbachev–the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
As a state vehicle, the ZiL had to look imposing–so it sports plenty of lights and probably the loudest siren I’ve heard in more than a decade (it nearly took my left eardrum out!). But, the engineers who worked on this car did not stop with just audio/visual cues. This thing weighs over four tons, stretches to over 20 feet long, and packs a 315hp, 7.7L V8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor. It’s not the Beast–but it looks plenty threatening. The doors are bulletproof, and the interior appointments would make a contemporary Rolls-Royce or Mercedes sweat in their moccasins–look at that thick-pile carpeting and puffy leather seats. For years, in the Communist world, all were created equal–but some were more equal than others, and for the most equal, the ZiL was the only mode of transport of the time. These cars were truly one-of-a-kind, and I do not believe that I’ll see another for quite some time. Enjoy the photos of this rarely-seen Russian state cruiser. Continue reading 1985 ZiL 41045 Limousine at the 2015 Greenwich Concours
In 1982, the vast majority of the USSR’s general population didn’t own a car. An automobile was considered a genuine luxury thanks to the high cost and the waiting lists. I’m not talking about waiting lists for something like a Mercedes, Porsche, or perhaps even a Cadillac. I’m talking about a waiting list for just a car that one could drive to work every day.
Into this void steps this 1982 VAZ 21033. This is a car that cost almost 5 times an average factory worker’s salary in 1982. It can count among its features a radio (optional and very expensive to buy), an overhead valve engine, thick metal in the fenders, and even a hand starter to make sure the car would start up during Russia’s genuinely fearful winters. The VAZ wasn’t a particularly glamorous car, but this particular one has a great history. It was originally won for 1 ruble in a lottery in 1982, then spent the next thirty years under wraps, until the owner’s grandmother purchased it and helped ship it to the United States, where it lives today.
The owner, Roman, is very proud of his work (he restored this car himself) and his hard work paid off on Concours Sunday at Greenwich, when the little VAZ-21033 won the Best Special Interest Car award, beating out a Russian Volga, a rather straight Volvo 262C, and a very clean 1984 Toyota Supra. Congratulations on your award, Roman–the VAZ looked excellent in the strong June sun. Enjoy the photos.
Continue reading 1982 VAZ 21033 at the 2014 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance