I am now on an active quest to import a genuine Soviet people’s car from the former Soviet Union; if all goes according to plan, a ZAZ-968 will go into a shipping container in Odessa and make its way to Chez Murilee later this year. I have a special affection for the Zaporozhets, because it was the product of the downward-economic-spiral, economy-temporarily-propped-up-by-oil-exports Brezhnevian Malaise Era, yet was the only car that ordinary Soviet citizens had any chance of actually owning prior to the Glasnost period. However, when an elitist, Party-members-only 1956 GAZ-M20 Pobeda in not-ridiculously-far-from-Denver Iowa came up for sale on eBay last week, with a starting bid of just six grand, I decided I’d take a shot at buying it instead of a Запоро́жець.
Just to make the idea of a Pobeda more tempting, English Russia came out with this “Victory In America” piece, with photos from a Life magazine spread on M20s in the United States. The M20 was the first of the postwar GAZ cars, and it can trace its ancestry back to the 1938 Opel Kadett. Talk about history! However, I wasn’t willing to go over $7000 on an allegedly solid car 700 miles away, and the bidding went beyond that on the final day, so I’m back to my original plans of getting a rust-free, garage-queen Ukrainian ZAZ-968. Probably just as well, as the GAZ-M20′s flathead four-banger was hard-pressed to get the Pobeda up to 60 MPH (and it would be blasphemous, even by my loose standards, to change out the original engine in such a car), while the much lighter and more modern Zaporozhets can be driven like a normal vehicle.
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