By on May 20, 2010

What is it about former (or ostensible) communist leaders and retro limousines? China’s Hu Jintao got a tip of the hat from us last October for stepping out in style at the country’s National Day celebrations in a retro-fabulous Hongqi HQE. Now, The Guardian reports that

President Dmitry Medvedev has decided to trade in his Mercedes and bring back the ZiL, in what appears to be the latest attempt by Russia’s nostalgic leadership to turn the country into a Soviet theme park. Medvedev has asked aides to examine whether the austere and enduringly sinister limousine can be brought back into production.

And why not? After all, what’s more authentically Russian than being ferried through Red Square in an “enduringly sinister” vehicle made by a company that was at one time known as “Stalin’s Factory”? Is it too soon to ask about American-market availability?

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18 Comments on “Russian President Requests The Rebirth Of ZiL...”

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Why ask about availability? We’ve already got Obama’s Government Motors Factory which is fully capable of producing a product with the awful styling and iffy reliability of a Soviet era product.

    I know. I owned some before the Japanese saved me from the UAW.

    • 0 avatar

      I really fear for your survival in this oppressive Obama regime, I heard the UAW wants to take your awesomely superior Japanese car from your house.

      P.S. I’m really starting to get tired from this Obamaphobia in every thing I read, and I mean everything.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      abcars: Deal with it. Americans love to gripe about politicians. Obama is the president, so he is going to get griped about. and that is the way it is going to be for the next 3 years, or if he is lucky 7 years. Then it will be some other poor bastard’s turn.

  • avatar

    ZiL was originally known AMO, before every factory in the country became a “Stalin’s factory”. But why confuse the narrative with facts?

  • avatar

    My favorite ZIL’s were the reverse engineered Packards from the 40’s-60’s.

    • 0 avatar

      The one that is closest to Packard is the ZiS 110 from the late 1940’s. Looks a whole lot like a ’40 Packard and debate has raged endlessly on whether it’s just an approximate copy (like so many modern Chinese cars) or actually built using obsolete Packard tooling. ZiS built another car in the 50’s that looks like a ’48 Cadillac. The other Packardesque Russkimobile was the GAZ Chaika, which resembles a ’55 Packard in front and in back but not quite so much in the middle, which is sorta Fordish. There’s another bizarre ZiL that is pure ’62 Cadillac in front and pure ’62 Ford in back. It’s like some Soviet designer took a stack of US car ads and picked the features he liked most. I’d like to see the new ZiL be a clone of either a ’66 or ’76 Fleetwood Brougham, because the world needs more Fleetwood Broughams.

  • avatar

    In America, you drive the car.
    In Soviet Russia, the car drives you.

    – Yakov Smirnoff

  • avatar

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the last ZIL models from the 115 on was the V8 engine. The engine was a carburated, alloy OHC 7.7 litre V8.

    Pictures here

  • avatar

    Why do you refer to Politicians as “Leaders”? It’s like refering to Rapists as “Lovers”.

  • avatar

    Hmmm, should be interesting. Given how the HongQi represented a genuine effort to showcase Chinese-developed technology (i.e. a home-grown V12, retro-chic styling), the ZiL would likely strive to showcase the best that Russia has to offer.
    Before we get all dismissive about its derivative styling, this is the country that designed some of the impressive fighter jets of the 20th century.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, given that jets are a whole-lot of engineering and little design, while cars (comparatively-speaking) are a whole-lot of design and little engineering … I’m not sure the knowledge and experience is transferable across segments or through time…

  • avatar

    Ahh the ZiL.

    Different sides of the same coin – much akin to the USA v. USSR debates to the cognoscenti.

  • avatar

    this is how i see it

    if you’re a great industrialised nation, YOUR LEADERS SHOULD DRIVE YOUR OWN CARS

    russia builds her own planes, ships, hell… spacecraft

    why can’t they build decent car? it’s is embarrassing for a russian leader to ride around in a german car

    the car building nations should ride around in their own cars

    UK = Jaguar XJ V8

    Japan = Toyota Crown Century V12

    Australia = Holden Caprice V8

    Korea = Equus V8

    Germany = S600 V12

    France/Sweden = Citroen/Peugeot/Volvo

    • 0 avatar

      Given that scheme, I don’t want to be reincarnated as the leader of Yugoslavia in the 1980’s…

      btw, perhaps this new development in Russia is due to Putin being tired of being made fun of for driving that old and uncool Lada 4×4.

  • avatar

    Is interesting to talk about the Lada 4×4, it was almost equivalent to God send for a few dudes living in the Great White North of Republic of Canuckstan.
    One guy told me he welded the rear shaft together so is like a locked up limited slip differential. He could go travel to any God forsaken logging road to hunt or prospecting etc and back with no issues.

    I talked to a few owners of these 4×4 Ladas , they were highly praised, except the Russian tin worm do get overly active, and the importer just folded one by one over 10 yrs ago.

    If the Rusky Generale had not shot down the Korean Jet in 82, the Ladas would have sold more then, is not a great car but the price was affordable, sadly the crazy Generale just one too many Vodkas pressed the red button too soon, took down ~300 innocent lives.
    I am sure if he could go back in time he would have not pressed the button.

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