Soviet-era cars might not exactly be famous for being “good”, those of us old enough will remember the jokes about Skodas, Ladas and Yugos, but to blanket call all of them shit is somewhat unfair; they created a few gems out east!
We’ve taken the time to go through some of the rubbish to deliver you our 5 favourite Soviet-era vehicles from behind the Iron Curtain.
5) Lada Niva
You might not expect to see ‘Lada’ and ‘good’ in the same sentence, but the “poor man’s Land Rover”, as some refer to it, has survived the test of time and then some! You still see it throughout Russia for police and medical vehicles, and is still used by regular folks too.
And if you don’t believe me about durability, then they had one stationed in active service in Antarctica that lasted 10 years.
4) Zil 114/117
The Volga might be the most famous vehicle for the Soviet elite, but for the super elite the Volga didn’t cut the mustard – you needed the Zil. 7 litre, V8 and 3 tons in weight.
As for gas to mileage ratio? No one knows, nor would they care; this was the car for the bosses, not the workers.
3) Melkus RS 1000
At 210km an hour, this was by far the fastest road-legal vehicle made in the whole of the Eastern Bloc.
Unfortunately, the great look of a sports car was combined with a deafening noise that sounded much more like a plane taking off.
How did they build it? The steering wheel came from a boat, the carburetors from a motorbike (or better: three motorbikes) and the rear lights from a caravan. Not the most practical of cars ever built, but still pretty cool.
2) Tatra 603
Believe it or not, the Soviets were not that popular in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and their cars even less so, so the communist government in Prague decided to build their own socialist luxury vehicle. The Tatra was born.
At a top speed of around 170 km/h, it was certainly not a bad for the era. Alas it was not the kind of car your average proletariat could afford, and it was a car for the elite.
1) Gaz 24 Volga
The very epitome of the car for the elite! Named after the river Volga in Russia, there was one very simple rule if you saw a Volga in your mirror: you moved over, it’s that simple. There were many even sent to places like Cuba, or beefed up for people like the KGB.
Not all that many Volgas survive today, but the ones you see still look pretty damned epic!