Why were Russians crazy about the Volga car

AFP
One of the most popular car brands in the USSR, Volga, was a favorite of Vladimir Putin and Yuri Gagarin. It even became a hero of dark urban legends in Eastern Europe.

Designed by the Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ), Volga was one of the most popular automobile brands in the Soviet Union.

Every car lover in the USSR dreamed about this vehicle. Large and spacious, Volga was much more comfortable and luxurious than the “people’s” Zhiguli.

However, only few could afford it. Orders for this expensive car were reserved in advance by different state officials and departments, as well as by famous artists, actors, authors, and etc.

Appearing in 1956, GAZ-21 was the first car in the Volga series. A black car with special blue salon was presented to Yuri Gagarin after his famous flight into space in 1961. This became Gagarin’s main car along with a gift from the French - the Matra D’Jet 5.

Among today’s devoted Volga-lovers is Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2005, he drove U.S. President George Bush in his GAZ-21.

A black Volga was often used by the KGB and it became an unofficial symbol of the Soviet Committee for State Security. One of the most popular among agents was the GAZ-24-24, which could accelerate up to 170 km/h, and was one of the fastest cars in the USSR.

Fear of the KGB gave birth to numerous myths surrounding the Volga. In 1960-1970, a dark urban legend of the “Black Volga” was very popular in Poland and Hungary. It was believed that priests, monks, satanists or even vampires and the devil himself drove the car, kidnapped small children and sold their organs to rich Westerners and Arabs.  

The GAZ-24-95 was created to be a new off-roader for the needs of the military, police and as the hunting vehicle of Soviet leaders. However, since it was too complicated to build and maintain, the project was abandoned, and only five cars saw the light of day.

The GAZ-3102 was produced in a limited number for mid-level officials whose rank was too low to ride in limousines, but who needed a certain level of comfort and security.

The most recent model - Volga Siber - appeared in 2008. Unfortunately, the global economic crisis and weak domestic demand soon ended these ambitious plans, and production of the car was abandoned in 2010.

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