This stopped me dead in my tracks when I saw this. It’s a (GAZ) Volga Coupe, and I love it. Apparently it was Krushchev’s favourite ride (in sedan version). A car has no right to be this stylish. Even after all these years, the design still looks great. Between this and those ZIL limos, it seems that Russians know how to make better use of black paint and chrome than the rest of the auto industry put together. An utterly stunning car. Pictured here in Red Square :
Click through for the story behind this surprising car (it’s not what you think)While this is certainly a Russian-made car, it’s not actually a Volga Coupe. Volga never made a 2door version of their M-21 sedan (which was famous in it’s own right for being the vehicle of choice for the KGB).
This is one-off made by the exclusive Russian firm A:Level, based in Moscow. Car and Driver got to visit their workshop. Here are some excerpts from that story:
“Genuine Volgas neither looked nor drove like this coupe. So ignore the chrome “Volga” letters on this coupe’s trunk and the famous “shark’s teeth” Volga grille, because this Volga coupe is not a Volga at all. Only the head- and taillights are original.”
“This coupe takes a BMW 850CSi chassis (last built in ’96), transmission, and engine and grafts on the unique body. It’s not powered by a wheezing 70-hp four-cylinder lump but by a 380-hp V-12 BMW engine capable of hurtling it down Moscow’s multilane highways at a claimed 150 mph. It is said to go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, performance that a KGB agent—even one equipped with the later 195-hp V-8-engined KGB version of the original Volga—would have, well, killed for. The owner reportedly paid only $500,000 (US) for it.
“The important thing is that we build a car that is Russian,” Shishkin [A:Level’s owner] declares loudly. He does not seem concerned that chassis, engine, and transmission seem fairly German. Special “double curvature” glass had to be imported from Italy. Dismissively, Shishkin says, “The base is unimportant. The style is Russian character. There is real energy here.” He pauses. But it is the calm before the storm.
“All we want to build is cars with . . .” Shishkin pauses right there, and then, like a Milanese opera tenor, he cranks his right arm violently against his chest and shouts, “WAAHH!” I guess that translates as “passion.”
But why make it look like the M-21 Volga? “This was the symbol of power in Russia, something people desired. We wanted to have one final look back. It is our way of saying goodbye to the past.”
He pauses again. Then he instructs: “Eighty percent of customers who come to us, we reject. Most have money but no imagination. The worst thing a customer can say to us is, ‘I want the same as that.'”
A:Level cars are only built to order after lengthy discussions with a potential customer on the style and direction the car will take—and only after the customer has paid for it.
Shishkin continues: “Unfortunately in Russia, many of the wealthiest people are the least cultured. We cannot communicate with them.”
We haven’t felt this level of solidity since stepping out of a T-72 tank. The Volga’s doors thud shut, and noise is blanked out the moment you finish pulling the leather door handle”
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