Why the Soviets Constructed a Knockoff Packard Limo With Prepare Wheels

The USSR was a wierd place the place individuals constructed unusual issues, like a diesel locomotive on mud tires. That practice of thought—pun supposed—apparently went each methods, as one Soviet state turned one of many USSR’s uncommon home luxurious automobiles into what must be one of many least sensible (however most fashionable) rail autos of all time.

This unusual, one-off practice automobile was primarily based on a GAZ-13 Chaika, or seagull; a luxurious sedan that Russian outlet Quto says was impressed by midcentury American luxo-barges. Its styling echoes late-Nineteen Fifties Packards, whereas its drivetrain reportedly took inspiration from Chrysler, with a push-button three-speed computerized and a 5.5-liter V8. Although it was all aluminum, it wasn’t precisely cutting-edge—output was reportedly simply 195 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. Not dangerous for a ’50s motor engineered behind the Iron Curtain, however nothing groundbreaking.

GAZ-13 Chaika in a museum. János Tamás, CC BY 2.0

The remainder of the automobile was equally quaint, and fewer spinoff of American automobiles in addition. It measured practically so long as a 2022 Chevy Suburban, permitting it to seat seven in three rows of bench seats. It was constructed on an uncommon, X-shaped chassis, and is famous for being the primary Soviet automobile to make use of tubeless tires. As you may think about, a automobile this opulent wasn’t accessible to most Soviet residents, and solely 3,179 had been constructed. Many had been reserved for state use, although Chaikas had been reportedly fashionable to lease for weddings.

One beneficiary of this exclusivity was Soviet Hungary’s prime minister, Jenő Fock, who used a Chaika as his official automobile till 1972 based on Europabahnen. After its retirement, it was bought in 1973 to the Hungarian state railway, MÁV, which eliminated its steering wheel and match it with practice axles. Whereas it could have been the best short-distance VIP shuttle, its precise use was extra pedestrian—Flickr photographer John Cosford signifies it was used for observe inspection, which could make it the coolest rail survey automobile of all time. (No onerous emotions, Fiat 500 Motocarrello.)

How lengthy the Chaika Chaika Choo Choo served MÁV is not clear, however we all know for sure what destiny it met. As a substitute of being scrapped like some traditionally necessary rail autos, it was preserved in Budapest on the Hungarian Railway Museum, the place company are typically provided rides in it. It is solely a 15-minute drive from the place Hungary hosts its Formulation 1 race, too, so it is a worthwhile detour if you happen to go to for the Grand Prix. It’d even be probably the most thrilling a part of your weekend if Max Verstappen continues to be dominating subsequent yr.

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