Cars of Coolhaven

An exploration of extraordinary cars in an ordinary neighborhood

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GAZ-21 Volga (1958-1962) – II Series

August 22nd, 2008 by Rolph · 3 Comments

At first glance, I just want to ignore this car and continue on my journey. It is a typical Dutch summer, which means the water is falling from the sky in such quantities that Michael Phelps could swim all the way up to the clouds if he wanted to… Not your best day for getting out of the car to take some pictures of an old rust bucket. Especially since you reckon it is a Volvo Amazon anyway, so why bother?! The Amazone is a nice car, don’t get me wrong, but here in the Netherlands it is parked on every street corner and really can not be called exotic or rare. (Oddly enough, apparently it is quite an expensive old-timer to drive, by the way). Luckily for me, in the flash of passing this car I notice that the rear lights are a bit odd for an old Volvo. Then what is it? It has the feel of an old American boat like the Ford Custom, but through my wet and steamy car windows it looks a bit too shabby for that. Oh boy, somebody is going to get soaked…

It is an old Volga from the Soviet era! Nice to spot this one, enough of them have been built, but I rarely run into one here in the Netherlands. And it is an early model as well, very nice.

The Volga was the happening car to drive when you were a big cheese in post-WWII Europe. Well, on the Eastern part of it anyway… It is the biggest and most ‘sophisticated’ car which was affordable and accessible to the ‘normal’ people on the street, as in: non government officials. Lew Eremeev was responsible for the design of the M21 Volga, and obviously he was inspired by the American cars of the fifties. The Volga M21 has the aerodynamics of a barn with a brake parachute, air resistance really wasn’t that high on the list in the fifties. The Volga got the difficult task to be highly modern in a decade that the Russian infrastructure was still far behind. Only in the main cities and their surroundings you could find highways of good quality. In the countryside, roads were mainly cobblestones or just sand. The Volga was build to both deliver high speeds on the highways and being able to pass small muddy country roads. On top of this contradiction, the technique of the Volga had to be simple because in the Soviet Union at that time there were almost no service stations. The owner had to be able to do all the maintenance himself.

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Tags: GAZ / VAZ · Oldies · Volga

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jan // Aug 27, 2008 at 12:28

    Just as a joke, compare it to an Opel Kapitan.

  • 2 Mark Crowel // Nov 8, 2008 at 14:15

    Did Russia really design this car completely, or did the Russians simply purchase body dies from Western European automakers?

  • 3 Jan // Nov 10, 2008 at 14:00

    I believe styling-wise it was based on the Ford Crestline (1952), which would make sense, as GAZ was set-up by Ford in the 1920’s.

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