1977 GAZ Chaika M-13

Joseph Stalin admired Packards. They were rugged, reliable, quiet and stately. Ostensibly to curry favor with him the US government asked Packard to sell the body dies and tooling for their Junior and Senior lines to the Russians to accelerate beginning automobile production after World War II. They were put into use in the ZIL and ZIM factories and for the next generation or so important Russians, from Generals and Ministers to Stalin and his successors, were routinely seen tearing through empty Russian streets in cars nearly completely indistinguishable from 1941 Packards. In the next generation the boxy old Packard designs were replaced by newer, more modern but still two decades behind Western practice, designs like this GAZ Chaika. Powered by a 5.5 liter V-8 rated at 195hp with a 3-speed automatic transmission -- the first Russian-built automatic -- the Seagull, so-called for its grille and trunk badges, was typically assigned to senior bureaucrats and field grade officers, a notch below the most senior government and military officials. Finished in bureaucratic black with grey broadcloth and vinyl upholstery, it has a pair of jump seats, pushbutton AM radio, power brakes, power steering, wheel covers, black wall tires and a very large horn for warning the proletariat to get out of the way. This example is in very good shape, with good paint and interior and it runs and drives well, like a 10-year old well-maintained automobile. It is best described as an honest, original car that has lived a good life. Extremely rare no matter where it shows up, it is an example of one of the CCCP's better, if not timely, attempts at mirroring Western products. It will make for plenty of colorful conversation at any car show.

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