Soviet-era car restored to KGB specification

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Pick of the Day

Pick of the Day celebrates Cold War-era automotive history. It’s a 1960 GAZ M21 Volga being advertised for sale by a private owner located in Kiev, Ukraine, a nation very much in the news of late.

According to the seller advertising the car on ClassicCars.com, in the early 1960s, the Soviet KGB wanted a car to use for pursuit, escort and various “special missions.” The car needed to look just like the typical GAZ 21 “Volga,” but provide more power. Gorky Automobile responded, between 1962 and 1970 reportedly producing 603 such vehicles, known as the GAZ 23.

“We know only about 19 copies of surviving cars of varying degrees of configuration,” the seller reports.

The car on offer is a GAZ M21 purchased in Moscow in 1985 and restored to GAZ 23 specification, with a V8 engine that can power the car to 100 km/h in 16 seconds and on to a top speed of 170 km/h (better than 105 mph).

The car also has the GAZ 23 exhaust system and comes with two sets of tires, an original set and a modern set to use in everyday driving. 

“There is no more iconic Soviet car than the famous Volva GAZ-21 — noble, elegant, with swift bold lines, luxurious chrome trim and a sacramental galloping deer on the hood of early series cars,” the seller assures. 

“In almost all decisions Volga was a huge breakthrough for the Soviet automobile industry, giving its owners an unprecedented level of comfort and pleasure during their trips of the time.

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“It is not surprising because it was created with an eye to the best world models of those years and first of all in the spirit of overseas cars. That is why Volga was originally conceived as the first mass Soviet car with a hydraulic automatic transmission. 

“And imagine, there really were Volgas with machine guns! There were only about 700 such cars produced.”

The seller does not mention any such weapons as part of the Pick of the Day, which is being offered for $129,900. 

Gorkovskji Avtomobilnji Zavod was founded in 1932 with a license to produce Ford Model A trucks. Those same components would be used by the company to produce an open touring car, the GAZ A, and because of the Russian weather, an enclosed sedan, the GAZ M1 soon followed.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

4 COMMENTS

  1. 0-100 Kilometres Per Hour in 16 seconds. Are you sure? That’d make it somethinf of a slug. Are you sure that shouldn’t be 0-100 MPH in 16 secs

    • Interesting car. That 16 sec 0-60 time is reasonable for a 1960s era V8.

      What’s not reasonable is his $129,000 ‘resto-mod’ asking price, (maybe that’s in Ukrainian Ruble’s,) more likely its $12,900 which is reasonable for a 1960 4-door sedan.

      Now if Vlad Putin drove it as a young KGB agent, that would certainly add ‘celebrity’ value to it.

  2. I usually like anything with a engine and tires but not really a fan of a Russian engendered vehicles . There is a fire burning hole close by that you could park it in and I would be ok with that . This example is a clone unfortunately and a four door so that’s two hits against it and parts are probably nonexistent. I’d just donate it back to Putin and he can ride around in it with his shirt off if he so desires.

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