Armor for the president: The ZIL limousine, Soviet leaders' car of choice

Stalin entrusted his safety to it. It was Brezhnev’s favored means of protection. It safeguarded Mikhail Gorbachev against the 1991 coup... Exclusive at RBTH, we present the history of the cult armored limousine ZIL, the choice car of Soviet leaders.

Among the countries that have their own car manufacturing industries, custom vehicles for heads of state are only made in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, and South Korea.  The leaders of Germany, France, and Italy ride in domestic cars, however, they are not custom-made, but rather slightly modified models.

These days, you won't find a Russian-made car in the Russian president's motorcade, but at one time, the country's leaders used to ride around exclusively in individual armored limousines produced in Russia. Since manufacturing began in the 1930s, these cars have always been at the Moscow ZIL factory ('ZIL' stands for Zavod imeni Likhachova, "Factory named after Likhachov")

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