Cohort Capsule: A Visit To Moscow’s Retro Auto Museum


To make up for all the truly grand American luxury cars he has photographed around Helsinki, LDeren has uploaded pictures taken during a visit to Moscow’s Retro Auto Museum.  Maintaining balance in one’s hobbies is important, after all, and the simplicity displayed by this lineup of Zaporozhets is a perfect antidote to the profligacy of a daily-driven ’60s Imperial or Continental.  But not all the cars in the museum are quite this humble…


Nope, the ostentation provided by this Moskvitch Kalita’s chunky chrome grille with vertical slats imparts a degree of prestige that shames the humble ZAZ.  The result is a very, er…. formal and dignified sedan.  I’d love to know the intricacies of the early post-Soviet market, the buyers a car like this was aimed toward, and the added expense over a regular Aleko, the blue car to the right from which this model was derived.  Naturally, they were quite unpopular.


What does this remind you of?  A certain K-car limosine, perhaps?  Moskvitch borrowed from the best when extending the life of its Simca 1307-inspired sedan, emulating ’80s Chrysler in a cruder capacity.


Personal luxury didn’t die in the ’80s–who knew?  Next to all the classic metal around it, the inspired design of this Kalita Duet stands out.  All joking aside, these were clearly hard times for Moskvitch, whose engineers and designers could reasonably be assumed to be capable of much more.  The motivations behind actually going ahead with this two-seater, however, are still hard to understand.


Why not just spend more time making concept cars such as these?  Those responsible for curating this collection of cars which are otherwise quite likely to be disposed of should be congratulated.  As we can see, this isn’t the swankiest museum, but it nevertheless serves its function of keeping history accessible to today’s enthusiasts.  I wish them the best.


Last but not least, we have this Zündapp Janus, one of about 1700 built.  Not a Soviet car, but then not everything in the museum is, these West German machines were built with an engine between two seats, around which a row of passengers sat on either side with their backs to each other.  With nearly identical front and rear halves, it was an exercise in maximizing production efficiency.  As we can see, this model is not parked on gravel, but on a proper floor.  Perhaps it is an earlier acquisition or is perceived to be an item of higher value than the aforementioned concept cars.


All in all, a curious collection of automobiles.  There are, no doubt, more traditionally respectable cars throughout the premises, some of which can be seen in the background of the above pictures.  But as so many of those can be seen elsewhere in the world and in better condition, LDeren’s choice to snap pics of these rare oddities before they’re forgotten is most logical.  Keep up the good work!

Related reading:

Moskvitch Prince Vladmir, Kalitta and Duett

The Zündapp Janus: Mid-Engined, Double-Ended Production Car