Russian cars

As a kid I used to love those old cop films, shot in Italy or Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, where cops with the mandatory mustache, brown shirts and bell-bottomed trousers fought crime and terrorism (or both at the same time). Much of these films was made up of car chases of the preposterous kind where the interiors are shot in a cabin nailed to the floor while a screen, behind, projects the route the actors are driving along.
Whatever their shortcomings, they were brilliant films which cemented my belief that car chases ought to be made with small saloons or with cheap cars that you wouldn’t mind crashing a lot and that will crash a lot. With the exception of the Bourne trilogy, though, it seems that no one else in Hollywood thinks like me for, if you look around, all you’ll be able to see is Daniel Craig shooting missiles out of his Aston Martin.
Part of the issue is, I guess, due to the fact that we don’t make small saloons anymore, or cheap, square boxes. I remember looking down a car park, when I was a kid, only to see a plethora of straight lines, a theory of unobstructed angles and sober, unimaginative rectangular shapes. Today, instead, it’s a free-for-all feast of odd, rounded shapes, big wheel arches and funky metal twists and turns.
You can imagine my happiness, then, when in Tbilisi, amongst the medley of used cars from Germany and Japan, some with right-hand drive, I found a thriving colony of old Russian-made cars and trucks, all featuring the looks that I remember from many years ago. Here’s my tribute to them, to these old rust buckets that, sneered by safety enthusiasts and snubbed by performance fans, still plod on against everything the environment has to throw at them, even when the new toys break down.
This should be a Lada 1200, one of the few cases - if not the only one - when a Fiat, in this case a 124, has been copied and made worse.

This should be a Lada 1200, one of the few cases – if not the only one – when a Fiat, in this case a 124, had been copied and made worse.

The Lada Niva, USSR's answer to the Land Rover.

The Lada Niva, USSR’s answer to the Land Rover. Being produced like that since 1977, because why bother changing the style?

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A GAZ Volga, the saloon for the most equal amongst the equal Soviets.

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A GAZ 69 offroad vehicle, something of a rarity and possibly the pride of the owner who sat down watching and happily proclaimed its identity as soon as he saw me photographing it.

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Another Fiat 124 derivative, because there’s no such thing as too many Ladas (unless you’re stuck in a tunnel with loads of them belching out sour exhaust fumes, that is).

A GAZ truck. Noisy, slow, possibly the most polluting thing afte BP's Deepwater Horizon, but virtually unstoppable.

A GAZ truck. Noisy, slow, possibly the most polluting thing afte BP’s Deepwater Horizon, but virtually unstoppable.

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And that’s it. A Volga carrying a few beefy man, some extra kit and a washing machine possibly made of cast iron, braving the Liberty Square roundabout while doing a little bit of tail spin for good fun. Try doing that in your BMW 1 series.

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Russian cars

  1. Girl Gone Expat says:

    I can’t believe they were able to get a washing machine into that Volga! 🙂 For the movie comment, I suspect the car manufacturers pay, or at least provides the new cars for free, in a lot of the popular Hollywood movies leading to a lot on new, fancy cars being used in the movies. Good product placement I would think.

    • awtytravels says:

      Yes, I guess you’re right, but..doesn’t that spoil it a bit too much? I mean, take “I am Legend”; how likely is it for Will Smith to go hunting deers in… a red Ford Mustang?

      • Girl Gone Expat says:

        Haha..I absolutely agree:) The car choices in for example the Bourne movies you mentioned definitely makes the story more realistic.

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