10 Reasons why Russia is not an automotive desert

A few days ago I made fun of Russian cars. My new friend Vladimir Putin was not amused. Apparently by agreeing to a Russian Grand Prix I have been bestowed with a certain responsibility to improve Russia’s automotive reputation in the rest of the world.

So here goes. I had my assistants collect some prime examples of Russian automotive goodness. And goodness me, this magnificent country has achieved a lot more than I expected. Whatever you may think about their industrial strength, the spirit’s already there. It’s amazing what a determined Russian can do without too much technology. God knows what’s going to happen when they get their hands on some state of the art F1 high tech.

‘Priceless’ I’d call it, where it not for the fact that everything in Russia has a price. Everything. So without further ado, I present to you ten amazing automotive achievements of the Empire of the East. Click on any picture, or click on the first and scroll through all of them.

Or if you want them all on one page,

Russia may be the most capitalist country on Earth now, but there are still traces of the old communist spirit. Why should gullwings only be available for big-spending Mercedes buyers? Behold the Lada Gullwing. No sporty comrade can go without.

Forget about your average Western-built SUV, or four wheel drive blondemobiles as I always call them. Think you can hit some serious terrain with that? When Russians say all-terrain, they mean All Terrain. This is the home of the Siberian Tundra, after all. Not for the faint of heart.

Not for the faint of heart either: the Kombat T89. Name like a tank, built like a tank. Steel plated doors and 7cm thick windows. The personal transport of choice for oligarchs with enemies. This version comes with diamond encrusted door grips and white gold badges. The girl is optional, as is a whale penis leather interior.

By now you must be aware of the subtle sense of exuberance the characterises the average Russian car owner. But whale penis leather doesn't fit every car buyer's budget. Fortunately those who want to Save The Whales have a stylish alternative: airbrushing. Fits every possible taste.

What to do when your Mercedes goes out of style, but is still in perfect condition? (As Mercedeses will be.) You grab some new accessories from the parts bin and upgrade the bodywork. The result is something that would make Stuttgart green with envy. At least, I think it's envy. Not sure.

A Dartz T89 for him, a Hummer for her. A logical combination. No girl can do without, especially when parking is not your greatest strength and valet's not available. But Hummers are American, and Americans don't understand Russian girls. Russian car designers do.

For those who get easily bored of airbrush jobs, extended fenders, pink bits and other standard stuff, there's always snake skin. Dartz, they of the subtle display of power that is the Kombat T89, will gladly wrap your Bentley in it. As with all Dartz products, the girl is optional.

Snake skin is for Bentleys. So if you’re in the habit of zooming through Moscow traffic in a souped up BMW X5 with 22 inch wheels and still find it a bit, well, ordinary, there’s always a decent gold wrap job available. Additional advantage: will blind any oncoming traffic.

Russia must be the only country that offers an alternative for those who think wrapping is a cheapo way to put gold on a car. If that's the case, then screwing on gold tiles is the thing for you. Word is that especially your Porschky Turbo looks good in it.

No list of Russian automotive achievements would be complete without my friend Vladimir Putin's Lada. He has two of them. The second one sits on a truck that drives behind him, in case the first one breaks down. I'm not kidding. Glad to see that at least the politicians in Russia still lead the simple life.

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