When thinking of the Soviet Union, classic cars might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But the USSR produced quite a few memorable vehicles over the years. During the days of Communist Russia, engineers were pushed to their limit to compete with western manufacturers. They produced various motors, and here are five of the best classic cars.
GAZ M-21 Volga
The M21 Volga was created to compete with the Ford Mainline and other luxury Western cars. Developed in the 1950s, the Volga featured a reclining front seat, cigarette lighter, heater, three-wave radio and V8 engine. The exterior had a sleek appearance that made it popular with police and taxi drivers. The car was sold all over the world, with 639,478 vehicles produced in total.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the ZIL-111 limo was becoming outdated, which forced Communist leaders to drive around in US-made limos. An updated version called the ZIL-114 was commissioned. It came with a powerful V8 7-litre engine, which allowed the car to reach a top speed of 120 mph. It was also the first Soviet car with four-wheel disk brakes. The ZIL became so popular in Russia that Vladimir Putin had his own-custom model built.
Perhaps the most successful Soviet vehicle, the Lada Riva is the third best selling car platform after the VW Beetle and Ford Model T. It was mass produced in 1980 and came with a variety of engines over the years. It performed well in the British market, with the 1300GL being introduced in 1983. Autocar noted the low price of £3158, improved road performance and “impressive list of standard equipment.” It continued to sell well in the early 1990s.
The Tatra 603 can be considered one of the rarest Soviet cars in the world. The car was developed in 1953 after the Communist government ordered Tatra to make a luxury vehicle. It’s distinctive design featured quirky headlamps, which made it look like a UFO. The front seats could be folded down into a bed, while the rear seats provided a lot of space. It came with a 3.5-litre air-cooled eight-cylinder engine.
In 1961, the ZIL-112 Sports was built to compete in various races. Two were created, with the first being equipped with a 6.0 L V8 engine and the second featuring a 270 hp 7.0 L V8. Depending on the engine, the car could reach a top speed of 260 – 270 kph
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