Following On From The End Of History

We spot a welcome alternative to the ubiquitous ironic Trabant

GAZ Volga M21 A

Probably not an original colour available to the Soviet Nomenklatura, this rather nice, apparently Estonian registered example of a GAZ Volga M-21 was seen parked in the decadence that is London’s Berkeley Square yesterday. The door writing advertises a Russian language specialist London property company. Produced between 1956 and 1970, this has a third series model grille, but the elegantly lethal deer mascot of an earlier series. Nostalgia has given this car a literally rosy glow, but it was of course an awful thing in its time.

GAZ Volga M21 C

13 thoughts on “Following On From The End Of History”

  1. While the designers of this car had to listen to a constant barrage of propaganda about the failings of the West they had to look at a lot of photos of American cars in order to produce this mish-mash of details. Soviet-era architecture might have been shoddily made but it was forward-looking*. You´d have thought that Soviet engineers would have tried something more original in the Citroen-vein, things that looked like nothing else.

    *still essentially rubbish though. Communism allowed the fullest flights of the worst aspects of CAIM´s fascist and destructive approach to building.

  2. Laurent. I think ‘rustic’ is an acceptable term to excuse a wobbly wooden fireplace surround or an ill-formed loaf of bread, but not a car. The fatal flaws and hypocrisy of Soviet Communism might be seen in microcosm in their automotive output. As Richard says, free from the need to fear competition from cost-cutting, cynical rivals, this should have given a manufacturer the chance to produce something good and different but, instead, you got crude things like this which you can just imagine some puffed up local party boss sitting in and pretending to himself it was as good as a Chevrolet. Did they not find it humiliating for their industry to crib so shamelessly from the US. But it wasn’t even as good as a Chevrolet and, even worse, you couldn’t look forward to chucking it away three years later. In fairness they had strong bodies and probably had very good heaters.

  3. Spoken like true capitalist pigs. Hopefully you will see the error of your ways, otherwise be prepared to be crushed by the irrepressible might of the proletarian army.

  4. Then they’ll push and lift the tank and carry it to battle if they have to. Whichever way you look at it, nothing can stop them. Nothing.

  5. As Breschnew was visiting the non coummunistic world for the first time – flying in a helicopter from Düsseldorf to Bonn – he was very surprised to see such an infrastructure even with tarmac on all streets…..
    Stalin always had a faible for western and specially american design and i am convinced Chruschtschow and Breschnev had that faible too.
    So while always praying the superiority of the cummunism they are dreaming of a russian Disneyland, a russian concubine looking like Marilyn Monroe and gigantic road cruisers with silly tail fins. Just remember their presidential limos with pure american style or the russian Concorde or the Buran, a copy of the NASA Space-Ship or….

    As i saw the first picture, i felt myself in Cuba, but regarding the second picture with the low mondeo, i remember that the whole communistic world was full of cars which have their design-roots at the evil world of capitalism.
    The main difference between a Volga and an american car is the much greater ground clearence – because the modern soviet world mostly had non-tarmac streets wih big pottholes.
    And russian cars were built with massive steel, often more than 1cm. That was their way of anti-corrosion – and to make fine design nearly impossible.
    Driving such a Wolga must be very unique. Sitting high above the ground deep in a pillowy sofa – training your muscles by steering, breaking and changing gears,,,,

    The russian car history is full of lost chances. remember the Lada Niva. A car with a non-copied great design that was a door-opener for a really new kind of car..

  6. Markus. Brezhnev certainly liked his cars. As mentioned in a recent piece ( ) as well as his official ZILs, he had a fine personal garage both of purchases and gifts. Nixon gave him a Lincoln Continental, but in the 50s he apparently had a Chevrolet Bel Air and later a yank lookalike Opel Kapitan then a Chrysler 300. I think Marx might have been disappointed with him – though probably not surprised.

  7. One can argue until they go blue that the design of this car is not too original or that its performance specs were a notch less than European or American cars of that time. It does not matter. Just look at this car objectively. It is very, very beautiful. It has fantastic proportions and balancing of all the elements. I am sure it can grab a grand prix in the concours d’elegance.

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