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Russian Car - Volga

Updated on May 25, 2011

The most popular car in Russia

Volga is an automobile brand that originated in Soviet Union to replace the venerated GAZ-M20 Pobeda in 1956. Revolutionary in design, it became a symbol of higher status in the Soviet Union. Hope you'll like this Car and especially - my lens! ;)

GAZ-21 Volga

Production: 1956 - 1970

The first Volga model was originally developed as a replacement for the very successful GAZ-M20 Pobeda mid-size car which was produced since 1946. However despite its revolutionary design in form of chassis and body styling, the rapid evolution of the latter in the 1950s already caused Soviet designers in 1951 to put forward a project for its eventual replacement. In 1952 two parallel projects were set up by GAZ: Zvezda ("Star"), which was a futuristic fastback with panoramic windows and large tailfins, and Volga with more conventional styling, which was more realistically suited for the production realities of the 1950s.

'56 Volga - now usually referred to as the "first series" - came into serial production in 1957 and initially had modified Pobeda's flathead 65hp engine, as the planned overhead-valve 70hp ZMZ-21 was prepared for serial production only in summer of 1957. The first series of the M-21 Volga was produced right up to November 1958 during which across 30 thousand such cars were assembled. Today they remain the rarest version of the car, and are highly desirable for car collectors.

GAZ-24 Volga

Production: 1970 - 1985

Like its predecessor the car had several modifications. GAZ-24-01, introduced in 1971 was built to serve as a Taxi changes included an artificial leather interior as well as slightly modified engine as the usual taxi equipment. Following the 1977 modernisation, the 24-01 was replaced by GAZ-24-07, which likewise contained taxi equipment. GAZ-24-02 introduced in 1972 was the estate version, production of which lasted right up to 1987, when it was replaced by the GAZ-24-12. An ambulance version with GAZ-24-03 was also built on the estate's version.

The most serious modification however was the GAZ-24-24 which was powered by a 5.53 litre, 195 hp V8 engine borrowed from GAZ-13 Chaika. On top of that it featured a three-gear automatic gearbox, power-assisted steering and reinforced chassis and suspension. This car was never available for private ownership and was used by the KGB services. (This fact may have contributed to the development of the urban legend of the Black volga that was popular in the People's Republic of Poland in the 1970s.)

GAZ-3102 Volga

Production 1982-present

In late 1976, a review of the GAZ-24 was tasked with finding out the main drawbacks that would need to be fixed in its replacement, the design of which was scheduled to begin. However funds were never allocated for the project. Simultaneously GAZ launched the second generation of the Chaika limousine. The GAZ-14 in its size and interior jumped the class from its predecessor. Thus instead of replacing the Volga, GAZ was tasked with creating a new vehicle that would be suitable for the mid-class of the Soviet nomenklatura. Loosely based on its predecessor, the new Volga, in addition to receiving a new model number, had much of the Chaika's innovations incorporated in the design.

Like its two Volga predecessors, there was limited version for police and KGB, with the Chaika V8 and automatic gearbox, produced up to 1996. Since the early 1990s, 3102 is positioned by GAZ as a luxury saloon and costs slightly more than a standard Volga, its reputation for quality of 3102 lives up to the price.

GAZ-31029 Volga

Production: 1992 - 1997

By the start of the 1990s, GAZ was in a crises state, with the exception of the -3102, its models were more than a decade old and funds that it hoped to acquire for its future developments such as the -3105 never arrived. GAZ-31029 became a cross-breed of the GAZ-3102 and GAZ-24-10, production of which ceased in 1992. The new model had a more aerodynamic front bodywork. The model was also the first in the series to introduce injector engine ZMZ-4062.10 with four valves per cylinder, although carburetor engines were also available. Also unlike the 3102, the 31029 featured a station wagon. The latter, unlike the sedan, still retained most of the rear styling of the -24 series.

Initially the car enjoyed popularity, given the archaic age of the GAZ-24-10 it replaced, but the economic hardships of the 1990s meant that soon its reputation would be broken by the poor quality of assembly and corrosion problems, and the older 3102, still produced on the special conveyor was soon given preference after it was made available to the public following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite this and its short production run, GAZ set a record of more than 115 thousand per annum with the 31029.

GAZ-3110 Volga

Production: 1997-present

GAZ never intended the 31029 to be a permanent model, but with no replacement available, the company opted to continuously modernise the existing vehicle. In 1997, the GAZ-3110 arrived, in the new model, GAZ tried to upgrade the car to a new standard inline with the 1990s trends. Externally all except the door panels were re-styled and replaced, the car received new front and rear designs which saw the return of chrome finishes. Power-assisted steering became standard, along with new 15-inch wheels and Lucas brakes.

A major new feature of the 3110 was that in addition to the standard engine selection of the 31029, was the introduction of two diesel engines ZMZ-560 and ZMZ-561. Moreover beginning in 2001, following the upgrade at GAZ factory itself, the -3110 now received modern acrylic paintwork, which drastically reduced the corrosion problems that plagued the Volgas.

GAZ-3111 Volga

Production: 2000 - 2004

During the early 1990s GAZ managed to survive the crises by having the Volga do a generation jump from the GAZ-24-10 to the GAZ-3110 in 1997. Simultaneously it never abandoned its quest to develop its eventual replacement, and continued designing a new car, which would feature ABS, power steering, climate control, automatic gearbox and most of all V6 and even V8 engines as standard, along with leather interiors. The external design was completely new and featured many GAZ-21 influenced retro styling cues developed in collaboration with a US-based company.

GAZ-3111 was a failure in terms of marketing and demand. Its high base price and poor reputation that the Volga brand carried in the 1990s meant that those who could afford it, would opt for a foreign car such as the Mercedes E-class or the BMW 5 series with whom GAZ-3111 thought to compete.

GAZ-31105 Volga

Production: 2004-present

Faced with the failure to enter the foreign-dominated Executive car market with the GAZ-3111, GAZ learning on its mistakes, opted to continue with modernising its Volga series. Introduced in 2004, the GAZ-31105 replaced the -3110. Many features of the -3111 such as the front headlights and grille were incorporated into the new Volga. Inside most of the car's transmission and suspension received necessary upgrades, as did the interior. In 2006 the standard engine selection was added with a Chrysler DOHC 2.4 litre engine.

In 2005 GAZ introduced a long-wheelbase 311055 luxury model, with a new interior that included a wooden trim. The latter feature became standard on models produced from 2007 onwards when GAZ gave the car a minor facelift. Among changes were completely new taillights and a conversion to Euro III standard with the introduction of its new 2.464 litre 123.8 hp ZMZ-40525 engine, complementing the Chrysler engine, with which the archaic ZMZ-4021 and 4062.10 were phased out. The 31105 is available only as a saloon, with the estate continuing with the old 3110 styling.

Following the introduction of the Volga Siber in 2008 GAZ hopes to fully finish production on both the -3102 and the -31105 by 2010 the base design of both cars still traces its roots to the GAZ-24, thus ending a successful production run of 40 years.

Volga tuning - What a nice car!

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