Russian Cars in Australia
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  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Default Russian Cars in Australia

    Hi

    I've seen a website for a Volga M21 that's been imported into Australia and supposedly there are a couple of other M21's out here. Does anyone know of any other cars like the Moskovitch?

    From what I can see even the Lada Niva, Samara and the sedan (name unknown) are becoming rare.

    Regards

    Alan

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    Hardly like a Moskvitch, but here's one I wasn't expecting to see when the SA Citroen Club visited the SA Military Vehicle Museum at Edinburgh.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Russian Cars in Australia-img_5930a.jpg   Russian Cars in Australia-img_5931a.jpg   Russian Cars in Australia-img_5929a.jpg  
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120L View Post
    Hi

    I've seen a website for a Volga M21 that's been imported into Australia and supposedly there are a couple of other M21's out here. Does anyone know of any other cars like the Moskovitch?

    From what I can see even the Lada Niva, Samara and the sedan (name unknown) are becoming rare.

    Regards

    Alan
    I've seen that Volga, its been at a few shows. Its the real deal and has its own checkered history as it was once owned by the KGB. The owner is a real enthusiast (although he isn't Russian) and dresses in full Russian miltary gear and will talk about it forever if you let him.

    I first saw it/him and this years Hanging Rock car show and it was such a pleasent surprise from the usual chrome plated V8 burbling crap that gets there.

    I couldn't get away from it, the Volga and the Trabant it was parked next to were the most interesting things there.
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    The only Russian cars marketed here were the Ladas from 1983 until around 1998. The Russian embassy had a Volga in the 1960's. In the first London to Sydney Marathon a three car Moskvitch team came to Australia. The lead car did ok considering no support. I think they were re-exported. Someone brought in a UAZ miltary style jeep which went to auction as a Belarus for some reason in the early 80's. The Lada importer brought in a Fiat style wagon for assessment around 1987 but it had to be crushed under the agreement with customs. They could have sold them for $8000 but the agency changed and the new importer wasn't interested. There were a few military vehicles in the hands of collectors, probably ex-Egyptian. There was an early Wartburg in Mt Gambier for years. There were RHD Wartburgs, Moskvitches and Volgas sold in the UK so I should think a few would get here. In Belgium they had Peugeot diesels and were used as taxix. The Tatraplane was on sale at the Melbourne International Motor Show in 1951 on a six month wait. I think the owners are still waiting for delivery.
    Around 10,000 Ladas were sold in Australia. Because they're still in production new factory parts are readily available and cheaply too. Now Renault are in control they'll soon fix that. There were Soviet tractors and motorbikes sold too. At the moment there is no importer for the Belarus tractors (which of course aren't Russian) and no prospect of RHD cars. They still make those 1940's style motorbikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120L View Post
    Hi

    I've seen a website for a Volga M21 that's been imported into Australia and supposedly there are a couple of other M21's out here. Does anyone know of any other cars like the Moskovitch?

    From what I can see even the Lada Niva, Samara and the sedan (name unknown) are becoming rare.

    Regards

    Alan
    I believe many of the Lada Nivas melted in the hot Australian climate, some of the sealants, plastic parts and adhesives worked in Russia but couldn't cut it here and just fell to bits..
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    Always wanted a Wartburg. A Genteel model.

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    No, the Nivas did very well in the heat. There were three crossings of the Simpson desert to stress the point. It was the first shipment of Samaras that had dashboard tops that all had to be re-skinned. Not UV stabilized. It was a batch problem but it affected the whole shipment. Parts of Russia are as hot as Australia and the cars do service in the deserts of Central Asia.
    In the 1950's the Hungarian globe company Tungsram wanted to build an automotive globe factory in Australia. ASIO vetoed it as a threat to national security. The Fraser govt must have had kittens when the Czech Motokov took over import of Zetors from AMI in 1977. They were clearly a threat, if not to national security then to Australian service standards. Those Czech service managers had no idea - they'd give out their home phone numbers and tell people to ring on weekends.

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    Late model Volgas are horrible things that always stink of petrol when I ride in them. They are no longer available as everyone here (except for those from the Caucacus) wants European or Japanese cars. Getting into a near new Lada feels like being in a 1980 Fiat Mirafiori, which isn't a bad thing. You can still buy them new for about $AUD7000 too.

    Volga had a last ditch effort by putting a new nose on the Chrysler Sebring from the 90's and calling it the Volga Siber. No, it didn't sell and they went broke (again).

    Moskvitch is long gone, although I sometimes see a few driving around. There is also a rather tasty old rear engined Russia car that reminds me of a Renault 10 that I haven't been able to identity as yet.

    Lada Nivas are still being made and there is also a long wheelbase version with 4 doors. You can see where they have cut and shut the extra metal by the exposed welds on the chassis...

    UAZ make a nice 4WD (think Nissan Patrol) called a Patriot. No, nothing to do with the Jeep thing. The Patriot is a serious thing, although later versions have become more comfortable. There is a joke in Russian 4WD circles (and they do serious four wheel driving here with local and Japanese vehicles) that if the Patriot doesn't break down it will win.... I guess that's an even bet then...

    Ural motorcycles are available here for about $AUD8000. They come with sidecars and two wheel drive!!! Yes, the outer sidecar wheel is driven by an output shaft from the engine. They do serious offroading in them. They are selling them in Australia now although the sidecar is on the opposide side. Due to engineering, the sidecar wheel cannot be driven by the engine. The distributors want $AUD18000 + for this inferior version. Hardly makes it a bargain. The same inferior version is available on the road in England for $AUD13500. The Australian retailers are certainly padding their margins.

    That said, I haven't seen a single Ural since I've been in Russia (and that's been all year). Everyone here wants Ducks, or Japs, or Beemers. Russia has changed.

    Dave
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    A friend of mine had a Lada Niva some years back, it was the Toro (I think that's what it was called), the one with the bolted on flared guards and fancy alloy wheels.
    He told me that it suffered from vapour lock in the summer because the fuel line ran along the top of the engine. This, he tells me, was apparently done to keep the fuel from freezing during Russian winters!
    It doesn't make sense to me though, as Russell has mentioned, parts of Russia can get quite hot too and they rallied Lada Nivas through the desert here!
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks to all of you for having replied to my question. As always the information was extensive and very much appreciated.

    Unfortunately it looks like Russian cars of an age to be put on Historic Plates are virtually no existant in Australia.

    Regards

    Alan

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    Not Russian, but from the Cold-War Soviet bloc ... There were a few ARO's imported from Romania and I know of one 4WD that may now be for sale, but it will now be a total project. I am also aware of a RHD Wartburg from about 1960 in NSW. It's sat in a paddock for for at least 20 years and will now have rust and be sunburnt, but it appeared complete and relatively straight when I last looked at it a year or so back. The Wartburgs were sold new in RHD form in the UK, so a few may have slipped in here. Tests appeared in period UK magazines, so thre would have been a formal attempt to sell them there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Hall View Post
    The only Russian cars marketed here were the Ladas from 1983 until around 1998. The Russian embassy had a Volga in the 1960's. In the first London to Sydney Marathon a three car Moskvitch team came to Australia. The lead car did ok considering no support. I think they were re-exported. Someone brought in a UAZ miltary style jeep which went to auction as a Belarus for some reason in the early 80's. The Lada importer brought in a Fiat style wagon for assessment around 1987 but it had to be crushed under the agreement with customs. They could have sold them for $8000 but the agency changed and the new importer wasn't interested. There were a few military vehicles in the hands of collectors, probably ex-Egyptian. There was an early Wartburg in Mt Gambier for years. There were RHD Wartburgs, Moskvitches and Volgas sold in the UK so I should think a few would get here. In Belgium they had Peugeot diesels and were used as taxix. The Tatraplane was on sale at the Melbourne International Motor Show in 1951 on a six month wait. I think the owners are still waiting for delivery.
    Around 10,000 Ladas were sold in Australia. Because they're still in production new factory parts are readily available and cheaply too. Now Renault are in control they'll soon fix that. There were Soviet tractors and motorbikes sold too. At the moment there is no importer for the Belarus tractors (which of course aren't Russian) and no prospect of RHD cars. They still make those 1940's style motorbikes.

    Thanks Russell, my father talks about seeing Tatras at the Melbourne motor show in the 50's (he can't remember exact year). He says both Tatraplane and Tatra (V8) were there but I've never heard anyone confirm it.

    A V8 Tatra was roadtested in one of our motor magazines back then. During the 60's Dad found that same Tatra in a Citroen dealership in North Mellbourne. It was out the back perched on the roof of a L15with its engine out. The dealer said he couldn't get parts for it and had given up on it and it was waiting to be crushed.
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    Amazing where they bob up.

    Have a look at the immaculate R12 just posted in the Renault section. I'm sure the white car in the background is a Wartburg.
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    There was a blue late Moskvitch in Adelaide in the late '90s.

    This model:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M2141s_aleko-f.jpg

    Seen around Adelaide Uni a few times, perhaps a cheap student car?

    Seen quite a few Nivas in SA as well.
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    The Niva Toro had an Australian designed fuel injection system. The fuel tank and lines are carried internally to stop freezing. On the carby cars it does go across the top of the radiator hoses. The cars had a manual summer/winter lever to alter air intake off the manifold. If this was left on winter setting they would vapour lock in summer.
    The Skoda importers had the Tatras at Melbourne in 1951.
    LHD Nivas are imported into the UK in small numbers. There has been interest in bringing them into Australia but it's considered too difficult.

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    There is an Russian army vehicle called GAZ on e bay. look under "other". The bad news is,it is in Holland, the good news is you can put it on club plates.1943.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Cavanagh View Post
    Amazing where they bob up.

    Have a look at the immaculate R12 just posted in the Renault section. I'm sure the white car in the background is a Wartburg.
    i'll have the twin cab VW ute

    when was the last time you saw one of those ??

    my old man had one and i can remember that in the book it stated that the top speed was 127km/h, my old man tried it out and that's all he could get out of it

    go anywhere though

    i can remember riding around in the back of the cabin walking from side to side as we went somewhere and then kicked up a huge stink when i was told that i had to start using a seat belt as it had become law and i couldn't see out over the window ledge
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Cavanagh View Post
    Thanks Russell, my father talks about seeing Tatras at the Melbourne motor show in the 50's (he can't remember exact year). He says both Tatraplane and Tatra (V8) were there but I've never heard anyone confirm it.

    A V8 Tatra was roadtested in one of our motor magazines back then. During the 60's Dad found that same Tatra in a Citroen dealership in North Mellbourne. It was out the back perched on the roof of a L15with its engine out. The dealer said he couldn't get parts for it and had given up on it and it was waiting to be crushed.
    Hi,
    It is amazing where they pop up. I grew up in Taree NSW in the 50s and the man 2 doors down had a Tatra. Why ? How ? Who knows ? He was a bit odd.
    I saw it out of town once in the 60s going the other way. I wonder if it's rusting away in a shed somewhere around there. It is the only one I have ever seen and being interested in cars I knew what it was, from magazines of course. It certainly stood out in a country town.

    Jaahn

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaahn View Post
    Hi,
    It is amazing where they pop up. I grew up in Taree NSW in the 50s and the man 2 doors down had a Tatra. Why ? How ? Who knows ? He was a bit odd.
    I saw it out of town once in the 60s going the other way. I wonder if it's rusting away in a shed somewhere around there. It is the only one I have ever seen and being interested in cars I knew what it was, from magazines of course. It certainly stood out in a country town.

    Jaahn
    I would love to get hold of one and seeing the price there pulling now I doubt I ever will.

    Pugrambo that VW ute has bad memories for me. We once had an old German bloke living opposite who had one (same colour too) and a 220S Merc and after his son was killed on a motorbike and his wife left him he decided to give away all his stuff. The VW and Merc for free, everyone in the street was talking about him giving away all that he owned and when he was found dead in his garage we all knew why he gave it all away.
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    I've got a Niva in the shed, for use as a farm vehicle. I cut the rims off the 16" wheel centres in a lathe years ago and welded on 403 rims to give me narrow 15" wheels. These were then fitted with 4 1/2" farm implement tyres with deep herringbone tread.

    An old friend (alas long deceased) collected military vehicles, and in the early '70s he heard of a GAZ on a farm near Kilmore or Kyneton (can't remember which). So we drove up one Saturday, and he bought it. It had been captured in Korea and brought back to Puckapunyal by the army. It was eventually disposed of and wound up on the farm ... which from memory, may have been a small abattoir. (I must see if I can find the photos I took that day).
    The engine was a copy of the A Model Ford engine.

    He bought it and restored it and used it in various parades. Telstra used it in a TV ad years ago after Optus got going. It was filmed at night on Princes Pier in Melbourne and made to look like it was a Cold War East/West checkpoint and a prisoner exchange was taking place.

    He later wrote to the Russian Embassy and to various government departments in Moscow seeking information on it. They were very helpful and provided a lot of history and technical info. Later he discovered that he was being checked by ASIO as a consequence.

    Not sure what happened to it. I think his son or son-in-law inherited it with the other cars and a Jeep.

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    GAZ was the Gorki Automobile Works who made the Volga. Not to be confused wih the Volga Automobile Works who make the Lada. Gorki was called Nizhni Novgorod before the revolution and is again. The factory was actually built by Ford in the 1920's to make the Model A. The Russians modified it from there. After the war they made the Pobeida (Victory) and then the Volga. I actually met an economic planner who worked on the project. He said Ford stooged them by sending worn out equipment. Medvedev and the Ukranian president have Pobeidas, Putin has the 1956 Volga that Krushchev used.
    There was a story that the Chinese tried to claim warranty on some of the new American military trucks they captured in Korea. Still had the warranty cards in them.
    I've had Nivas since 1983 and a collection of Ladas - Samara, Cevaro and Sable. And a Zetor tractor with its Tatra designed diesel.
    Last edited by Russell Hall; 21st August 2012 at 06:25 PM.

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