Eastern Bloc show celebrates anniversaries

| 14 Oct 2011

Major automotive milestones – from 125 years of Mercedes-Benz and Bosch to Russia’s oldest car, along with a selection of Red Army trucks and covertly constructed cars – featured at Russia’s premier classic show from 15-18 September.The biennial Oldtimer Gallery at the Crocus Expo focused on celebrating Russian car history with the displays featuring a 1896 Yakovlev-Freze, the first locally designed and assembled car, which was heavily influenced by Benz’s contemporary Victoria and Velo models.Fittingly the show’s Mercedes-Benz line-up included an 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen (below), along with a selection of Bosch componentry – while the event also marked 125 years of the Orient Express.

But the show’s biggest highlight was the sheer scale of its commemoration of the nation’s automotive efforts in the 20th century, with everything from a 1940 ZIS 33 caterpillar  – commissioned by Nikita Khrushchev – and a 1943 ZIS 42 half-track (both in the lead image above) to a 1973 GAZ-13 Chaika limousine and an armour-plated 1985 ZIL-41051.Several Russian commercial vehicles  were on display – including a 1937 GAZ-4, the Soviets’ first pick-up and light lorry, and a 1944 GAZ-67 – Russia’s take on the American Willys Jeep.

Also getting attention from visitors was the 50-strong display showcasing the country’s underground car industry, which developed in the shadows of state-run industry as citizens endeavoured to build cars from scrap and household items in order to be mobile.

Their efforts ultimately spawned the small-time makes and models, such as the 1968 Muravei and 1972 Zvyozdochka on show.Other standouts included a couple of amphibians: a 1966 Katam (below) – featuring a plywood hull – and an example of a four-wheel-drive variant of a UAZ-452.

See Oldtimer-Gallery for more.