Soviet Limousine: Our Favorite Oxymoron

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
soviet limousine our favorite oxymoron

The best thing about the Soviet Corvair, aka Zaporozhets? The original idea was to rip off the design of the Volkswagen air-cooled engine for its powerplant, but Soviet engineers made their air-cooled four a V4 so that the cylinder heads would be more accessible when working on the engine in a mud-floored lean-to in Kemerovo (no doubt using tools made on the spot from melted-down kitchen utensils). So why not make a limousine version?

Once again, English Russia comes through for the lover of arcane Soviet road machinery. Sure, the site is backed by all manner of scurrilous/lowest-common-denominator advertisers, but seeing limo-ized ZAZs, Volgas, and Ladas makes the irritation of sleazy pop-up ads a small price to pay.

English Russia

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  • Acubra Acubra on Dec 22, 2010

    Stretches like the one shown were only popular in Cuba, as far as I know. None existed in the USSR (not street-legal) or Eastern Europe. For the ZAZ concept/inspiration one should not look any further than West Germany, actually, and its NSU Prinz 4. Running gear was drastically simplified though. A few talking points about a ZAZ: 1. Owning one was (even in the USSR) was deemed not too graceful. There was a popular joke refering to commuting in a ZAZ - about arriving to work after "15 minutes of shame". 2. With air-cooled engine, the cabin heater run on gas, making it possible to heat the car even with the engine off. And to die an unpretty death of carbon monoxide poisoning. 3. The accelerator pedal acted more like an ON/OFF switch, making for a very jerky progress. 4. These vehicles were detested in towns but favored by country and fishing folks, as a ZAZ with its flat underbelly, high ground clearance and light weight, along with overloading of the rear wheels, had some astonishing off-road prowess. It could also be bought right away, without waiting for your turn for umpteen years as it was with a Lada.

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    • Acubra Acubra on Dec 22, 2010

      ...that’s because they’ve been converted into building material or fenders for a ’57 Bel Air by now... Yeah, good riddance! :) Although fertilizer seems to be more realistic to me. As you would not believe how these things rusted away. Back in Soviet times folks would try just about anything to stop the rust. The most trasured one I remember was the so called "gun fat", a military water- and whatever-proof conservation compaund that worked in a huge temperature range, was stick as hell, had some corrosion inhibitors in the mixture. You'd have to warm it up to melt it and then spray in sills or any car body cavities. With numerous holes and tacky sealing the stuff would leak out. So cars after the treatment would pick up any dust and dirt that you could not remove with water, only with gasoline or similar solvent.

  • Pleiter Pleiter on Dec 22, 2010

    Looks to me like a clip job raised to the 2.6 power.

  • Tommy Boy Tommy Boy on Dec 22, 2010

    psarhjinian, Putting aside anarchistic extremes (e.g., no government), one can subscribe to the model of limited government and its corollary individual liberty (the founding principles of this country), or collectivism in which "society" or "the state" takes primacy, and individuals merely follow the diktats from government and are (nearly) wholly subservient to it. This latter is the model shared by communism, socialism, fascism and progressivism (fascism and progressivism are closely related -- read Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism" for a well researched overview of this). That I'm paying taxes to support "The Great Society" (a complete failure after nearly 50 years to remediate poverty); to bailout favored banks and automakers (corporatism -- Mussolini would be smiling); and now paying taxes to support the beginnings of a socialized medicine scheme demonstrates that the "progressive" march of the United States since Woodrow Wilson, through FDR, LBJ and perhaps consummated by Barack Hussein Obama (certainly this is his goal) demonstrates that in a deliberately incremental ("boiling frog") approach the U.S. progressive- fascists have been transforming this country into a collectivist model. And yes, Obamacare is socialized medicine. Through the combination of statute and upcoming regulations the "private" health insurance companies have become de facto public utilities, and eventually will be driven out of business, at which time "single payer" will be consummated. This fits right in with the fascist-corporatist model -- maintain the pretense of private enterprise but have the companies so under the government boot that from the government's standpoint it'll be just as good as Marx's "seizing the means of production." By "social liberty" I assume that you mean that one has the right to complain about 50% or more of one's income going to support the state and the collective a/k/a "social safety net" and can do whatever I want in the bedroom. Sorry, but that's not individual liberty. My being forced to work 6-ish months of the year to support the collective is not liberty; if I remember correctly even the serfs in Russia were only required to cough up one-third of their harvest. That I'm forced to labor months out the year to provide for welfare queens and their litters of illegitimates, and illegal aliens and their anchor babies, and gold-plated public sector pensions may be "social liberty" for them, but not for me or other taxpaying (rather than tax consuming) citizens. God help us.

  • FJ20ET FJ20ET on Dec 23, 2010

    Corportism works pretty darn well. Ask Japan and (South) Korea. The state and the market are not opposed to one another. As for the "A BLOO BLOO SOCIALISM MASS MURDER" the USSR didn't kill all that many people after Stalin's death, I daresay the US killed more. But don't reduce all the victims of the 20th century regimes to numbers. 1 or 1 million unwarranted deaths are tragedies. The Soviet Union died 19 years ago,it's not returning(sorry Wolverines) why is it constantly brought up in EVERY political discussion.