While riding the Moscow Metro system (which is great, by the way) on my daily commute the other day, I saw a sign for the Олдтаймер-Галерея — the "Oldtimer Gallery" car show — being held this weekend at the Sokolniki Park Exhibition Center. Of course I was going to go — I consider finding classic car shows wherever I am to be my superpower.
So this morning I hopped on a tram and rode to the park. It was a beautiful day (Happy International Women's Day, everyone! С праздником!) and the show was packed. It was held inside, which was understandable given Moscow's usually lousy Smarch weather, but the cars were pretty stunning.
I entered through Pavilion 11, the smaller of the two exhibition halls, before moving on to Pavilion 2. But I'm just delaying the inevitable... let's get to the cars!
Remember when I posted about the Cars from the Sochi Opening Ceremonies? Well, the GAZ-M20 Pobeda cabriolet was there. They had its portion of the Sochi OC running in a loop on the television next to it.
There was also this enormous Chaika limousine. At first, it looked like they were letting people sit in it, but when I asked I was told no. Oh well.
Next to it was a Volga. So many Volgas! I didn't take pictures of all of them.
But next up, it's nice to know that an Edsel found some love in Russia.
Then I came across this absolutely stunning Alfa Romeo.
Then a nice BMW 502 (I think it's a 502... I'm sure someone else has far more knowledge about these BMWs than I do). It's a little blurry, and I'm sorry about that.
Behind that, I'm sure you can see, is a stunning Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing. I've always loved the look (I think many of us might say that), but this was the first time I'd ever seen one in person. I never thought the first time I'd see a gullwing MB would be in Russia. And it really is a beautiful car.
I have no idea if these seats are original or not. I've never seen one... but plaid struck me as an unusual choice.
Actually, while we're on the topic of whether or not that interior is original, I have to admit that I don't know if this is an authentic MB 300SL or not. It could be a very nice replica. As I said, I've never seen one, but this one was on the Bosch stand and it would do them any favors to present a fake gullwing, no matter what monstrosities Russians may build on their own.
Then a Brass Era Locomobile.
I don't know who the kid is sitting in it — maybe the kid's relative own it? Maybe the owner didn't care? One thing I did notice, and you can see it in the first photo of the Pobeda, is that people didn't seem to feel like they shouldn't touch the cars. This Locomobile had velvet ropes — and we all know the power of these — but I saw people randomly walk up to cars and touch everywhere, and several attempting to climb into some of the classic Volgas.
Speaking of Volgas, this is a drool-worthy 1966 GAZ-22 Volga wagon.
The driver's door is not closed well because someone tried to open it up. I watched a guy just stroll right up, grab the door handle, and tug. And he gave it a few good jerks — he really wanted into this Volga.
But can you blame him? Yeah, it's not a diesel, but it's a brown (and cream) manual rear-wheel-drive wagon! It's almost as Jalop as you can get (except for the rather poor power-to-weight ratio, but I'll look past that).
Next to it was another very nice GAZ-M20 Pobeda.
Kid, just touching the car.
Then, my personal favorite for some horrendous reason (perhaps because I was born during the malaise era? Or perhaps I feel like this is the car my Papou — Greek for grandfather — would have driven if we had been Soviet citizens), this 1972 GAZ-24 Volga. In maroon. It could not be more perfect (for all the wrong reasons).
And a cool, late-era Moskvich. I don't know what year this one is — some cars had signs, others didn't.
Then — and this is a fantastic find — an SMZ microcar. These were designed with hand controls specifically for disabled drivers. They were horribly underpowered (but fine when you consider ALL Russian cars were horribly underpowered).
Lovely fit and finish there where the door meets the roof, eh?
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the inside of this car, but the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum (sadly, now closed) has a picture on their website of the interior of this car (and if you're wondering, no, I never expected to find a Soviet microcar — for disabled drivers, no less — in Madison, Georgia, when my dad and I visited shortly before they closed).
There was a really nice Moskvich 401, the original Moskvich sedan.
Here's a great example of the GAZ-21 Volga sedan, Russia's favorite classic car (it seems).
A 1955 ZIM.
A 1939 Buick.
A very well maintained VAZ-2101.
This "work in progress" Cord.
A ZIL limousine.
An old Chaika, like the one seen in the Opening Ceremonies.
This, which may be a Packard or a ZIS... it didn't have a sign and I couldn't find anyone who looked like they belonged to this car, so I couldn't ask anyone. Oh well.
Finally, for good measure, how about a tractor or two. First, the STZ-3.
And then the behemoth Stalinets-65.
There were also several Cadillacs, Fords, several other Mercedes-Benzes, a couple of Rolls-Royces, an original VW Beetle, plenty of other Volgas, and some military vehicles — not posting lest anyone think I support Russia's current foreign policy maneuvers and because I don't care about military vehicles roughly 99.9% of the time.
So what did I learn? First, velvet ropes if you don't want fingerprints on the car, or someone physically trying to get into your car when it's on display.
But secondly, and more importantly, I learned that there's a dedicated group of Russians interested in preserving not just the American, British, and German classics, but also their own automotive past. Every day on the streets of Moscow, I see old cars that are just old. They're rusting, banged up, falling apart, belching smoke. They're not appreciated, which I feel is a shame. But attending the Oldtimer-Galereya today was a different story altogether. And it's fantastic.