Car Show Report: Victory Day Vintage Vehicles Show in Nizhny Novgorod


Unfortunately, I was not able to take part in this year’s show myself because my Volga has shown her temper once again and burst a cooling system hose. The event was not particularly spectacular – for the most part it was just the usual set of old Soviet cars, but with several curious additions. For the start, you can see the latest acquisition of our local classic car club  – a GAZ-53 medium truck, powered by a 4.2 liter aluminum V8 derived from the GAZ Chayka engine. They used to be everywhere during my childhood, but now it is not a common sight.


The aptly named M-20 Pobeda [Poh-bed-ah] – Victory – you don’t see a lot of these stodgy looking, but sturdily built cars any more, as well. But this particular one is still used as a daily driver by its elderly owner.


The grille denotes it as an early car produced between 1946 and 1955, most probably after 1949. It still has the original flathead four – essentially a pre-war Chrysler Flathead Six with two cylinders sawed off. The dark blue color is very characteristic of this model, and it seems to be the original nitrocellulose-based paint, with a lot of local repairs.


GAZ-21 Volgas were especially abundant, as usual. This model has evolved from a more or less mundane everyday transportation into an object of a cult following during the last two decades. It was built essentially on the same platform as the Pobeda (with the exception of the all-new engine), but the styling was a vast improvement, if not especially modern for its time (1957-1970).


A lot of these cars were produced for sale in export markets outside of the Soviet Union; this particular wagon was sold in Finland. Many of these export cars returned home later. This one has been fully restored in 2014-2015 and resprayed into the original dark green color.


This GAZ-24 Volga is beautifully restored, not a factory color, but looks great. Judging by the lack of bumper guards and other details, it was built sometime between 1973 and 1977. And the black one on the right is a later model, also in a very good shape.


The second generation Moskvich was the first small car developed in the USSR completely from scratch. It enjoyed a moderate success on export markets, there is even a semi-legend about a shipment of these cars bound for the United States, but canceled because of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. I seriously doubt it had any chances stateside, though, because, just as many European economy cars of its time, it was by far too sluggish for America’s high-speed highways and interstates – much more suitable for a bumpy dirt road to a dacha with its 15″ wheels.


This particular car is a late version produced in 1962-64 and designated Moskvich-403. Two-tone paint was available on this model from factory, but not this particular color combo – factory schemes were all dark top / light bottom, so it is kind of reversed.



A Moskvich-408 De Luxe, as denoted by the quad headlights, built between 1964 and sometime around 1967. Most of the De Luxes were bound for the export markets, but the narrow rocker panel moldings mark it as a domestic market car – export versions had wider moldings fixed on the doors. During the 1960s the road system in Central Russia improved drastically, hence the smaller 13″ wheels. The styling is also much sleeker, with some Italian overtones.


And this is a version for the kids, produced by the same Lenin’s Komsomol Car Plant in Moscow. These pedal powered kid cars may cost as much as a real Mossie these days.


A station wagon version. Rectangular headlights sourced from GDR were used in 1969-1975 by the Moscow plant, and the Izhevsk plant, which produced these cars as well, had to make do with the round ones.


The latest version of this car, the Moskvich-2140, was produced between 1976 and 1988. Not a bad car by itself, it was largely unpopular because of its outdated design.


ZAZ-968A – my father owned a car just like this one in mid-1980s, but his Zappo was baby blue.


GAZ-67 was the Soviet answer to the Jeep, albeit not quite as successful. All-wheel drive, powered by the licensed Ford model B engine.


And this car looks like an original postwar Willys Jeep. I don’t know this particular model, maybe someone will recognize it?


Everyone likes American “muscle cars”… even if they only have a small block under the hood, like this 2-gen Camaro.


The real gem of the show was this 1937 BMW 321. If every car has a story, I’d really like to listen to the story of this one! Was it bought new by some Soviet engineer during his assignment in Germany before the war, or taken as a war trophy by the Red Army in 1945, or? Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to speak with the owner.


I also could not find out if it still had the original engine (it sounded a bit too modern for that), but the chassis is all original, with transverse leaf spring independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. It is a wonderful piece of old Germanic engineering, and a gorgeous restoration, too. Just look at these mirror-like reflections on its doors. I’ve never been into prewar cars, but now I’m starting to appreciate their timeless elegance and peculiar construction details.



Not only cars were exhibited at the show. This is a Tula 200M motoroller (scooter), a close relative of the West German Glas Goggo-Roller TA200. In the USSR scooters never achieved the same level of popularity as in Western Europe, mostly because of their inability to cope with the typical Soviet road conditions – full-size motorcycles were much more usable. These vintage machines are dirt cheap today, but that is going to change soon, so its a good investment.


And these Jawa motorcycles from Czechoslovakia are already a collector’s item. This one is completely restored and equipped with a Velorex sidecar, somewhat not typical for this model.


The event took place near the Victory Park, with its military vehicles exhibition. By far the most popular among the public was this IS-3, well known today to gamers as a Tier VIII heavy tank in the World of Tanks online game.


Several WW2-period cars and trucks were also present, including this GAZ-AA 1.5 ton truck…


…and this GAZ-67, with its peculiar, but not very reliable front suspension on double quarter-elliptic leaf springs.