HomeCar CultureAn American Sedan in the USSR

An American Sedan in the USSR

Garnering reactions from the Russkies


My parents visited the USSR in the early 1980s, as my dad had a business trip there. They brought me a diecast of a Volga and Lada, plus many other trinkets. I recall them telling me that there was a Coke machine that used one cup that everyone shared. People could not express themselves, and they’d go to jail if they did. Even my Sunday school teacher told us that there was no freedom of religion in the Soviet Union while parading a classmate’s cousin for all to see.

I can imagine things were even more stark 10 years earlier when two American embassy staffers hopped in a contemporary Chevrolet sedan (model undetermined) and made an excursion to various areas that were open to foreign visitors. In this case, they left Moscow and stopped by Tbilisi, Georgia, and three towns in the North Caucasus region before heading to Rostov and returning to Moscow. The whole trip took about five days.

Two foreign service officers prepared a report for the State Department, dated November 16, 1972, which you can read here. Car fans will get a kick out of the reactions the Soviet citizens had with the strange American car that was out of place in the republic.

To go out on a limb, we’ll guess the car was a Nova or Chevelle, not a full-size car ill-equipped to handle the environment built for smaller cars.

Be sure to check out the National Archives’ The Text Message for more interesting historical American ephemera.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


  1. Interesting that the staffers were such fine writers. Guessing that they may have been Ivy educated as it was typical to recruit foreign service workers from the (then) top schools.


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