Monday, May 13, 2013

1962-1968 GAZ M21 Volga Series III

"The 'Volga' is a durable car and needs but a few spare parts. All the units of the car are strong, durable and need adjustment only as specified in the Operation Manual. Thoroughly cared, the car will always serve its owner."

At a glance, it might pass for Detroit Iron, but our featured car comes from the other side of the Iron Curtain. Meet the first model of a proud dynasty of "luxury" automobiles for the Russian people, oh wait, actually not. These cars were principally driven by the brass of state-owned businesses and government officials, became police cars, taxis or, usually in black, the transport of KGB agents, but not many private buyers could ever get in possession of such a fine car. Limited supply and an astronomic price tag, for the average communist salary, made sure that owning a Volga remained a dream for most. Fast-forward five decades in Cuba, our pictured Volga certainly is written off the government inventory since a long time, and thus has found its way to the private car market.

The Volga was conceived as a representative car that should equal the American "competition" in style and technology. Lead engineer Alexander Mihajlovich Nevzorov and lead designer Lew Eremeew began working on the first drawings in 1953. The designers certainly took a close look at American automobiles of that era, namely the Ford models. The result was a pretty decent looking car, which appeared quite modern for its time. The ambitious engineers even contemplated to implement a russian version of Chrysler's new "Hemi" engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, but this option soon was ditched.

When presented to the russian press in 1955, however, the car was still far from being production-ready, and it should take two more years before the first Volga finally was delivered. By that time, car styling in America already had progressed big time. The Russian prestige project now looked pretty dated and certainly was no good match for Detroit Iron anymore. Yet, more than 650,000 select customers could take possession of a Volga between 1957 and 1968, before the larger GAZ-24 Volga replaced the aging M21. The shape of its chrome grille characterizes our pictured car as a later model, called Series III, which was produced between 1962 and 1968.

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