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Cold War Luxury: 1966 Volga GAZ 21

66 volga 2

The Cold War Era was an interesting time in American and Russian history. We as Americans saw and knew very little of Russia and missed a lot of the Russian culture during this time. This 1966 Volga is an interesting look into the culture we missed during the Cold War. The Volga GAZ 21 was one of the most luxurious cars available in Russia at the time. Due to our cultures being completely cutoff during the Cold War, there are very few Volgas that have made it to America. We think this Volga looks mint and the level of detail executed during the restoration is phenomenal. The seller is asking $39,900 for this rare, Cold War automobile. Find it here on craigslist out of Phoenix, Arizona.

66 volga 5

This Russian is powered by a 2.4l engine with varying compression ratios, and horsepower numbers. Available horsepower outputs were 75 and 80 horsepower. The lower compression allowing for much lower grade octane than what we have available in America. The engine compartment of this Volga is tidy and shares a familiar layout to that of an American car. Notice the venting in front of the radiator to cut off air flow during particularly cold days in Russia. It is shifted via “3 on the tree.”

66 Volga 4

Welcome to the lap of Russian automotive luxury. The interior looks simple and clean, but upon further inspection, there are quite a few controls on the dashboard. The dash is beautifully simple, displaying controls on the driver side, as well as on the center of the dash. The Volga looks to have a very nice, premium radio that has a face much like that of a 1940s era Mercury Vapor Tube radio. The colors are simple and stately. The steering wheel and overall outward view of the interior looks very pleasant. It’s easy to see how luxurious this car is now, and what it was in 1966.

66 volga 3

Let’s talk about the styling of this Cold War era automobile. The design is interesting, looking at it from the side profile the roof line, and the start of the rear fender brings to mind the Studebaker Champion. The lines are crisp, and subtle, yet with a fine level of detail. The mini fins on the rear fenders are an interesting style queue to this car. The massive fins of America had since dissipated by the mid-1960s. The two tone paint scheme is simple, yet pleasing. It matches the interior nicely. The front end wears an appealing chrome facade that is reminiscent of a mid-1950s Chevrolet Bel Air. The back end has those pleasing little fins and taillights that finish out the design of the car nicely.

66 volga 1

The seller has mentioned that Vladimir Putin and Jay Leno each own one of these cars. The seller also added an interesting photo of President Bush driving Vladimir Putin’s Volga. Let’s face it, if Jay Leno owns one, then it must be a cool car. Very few would have a clue as to what you are driving, and where it is from. Would you bring this Volga GAZ 21 home if you could? What do you think of the styling of the Volga, and does it seem reminiscent of American car design?


  1. Mitch

    Just an aside, being a train as well as car guy, EMD (GM) built yard locomotives in the day that had similar radiator venting. (if requested by the ordering railroad)

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  2. Dan h

    Wonder if any Volga’s can found in Cuba?

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  3. Rando

    Interesting. Nice to look at. glad it is someone else’s.

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  4. Van

    Give me one I can paint satin black with a red Hamer and sickle on the hood. Big red star on the doors. Chevy 572 with 671 blower, cheater slicks.
    Yes comrade only Russia.

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  5. Matt

    The speedometer and surrounding area looks very much like my 1954 Ford!

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  6. Dolphin Member

    Russian cars of the ’50s & ’60s were pretty much copies of American car styles. You can see a lot of ’50s American design in this Volga even tho it’s a 1966 model year car. The Russians were always behind that way. I have a brochure of a late ’50s-early 60s Russian car that looks almost like a 1950 Ford. Even the interiors were mostly made up of American car styles.

    The one area where they didn’t adopt American design was the engines, which were smaller than American engines. And they missed the musclecar era completely.

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    • RayT Member

      “Musclecars?” A Soviet-era take on a GTO, Road Runner, SuperBird or the like would be truly mind-boggling! Just look at some of the Russian “racecars” from that era….

      Actually, I think their car designs made a certain amount of sense. What frills they added didn’t get in the way of utility, and those four-cylinder lumps that ran on almost anything that would come close to burning and robust chassis made for cars that could work as well in Siberia as Moscow.

      I’ve always liked East Bloc cars. If I owned a warehouse, I might fill it with a couple examples each from E. Germany, the USSR and Communist China. If nothing else, it would shake up the local car shows!

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      • Alexander

        Then muscle engines all went into their tanks. The T34, for example, had a 500 hp V12 diesel in the late ’30’s, when the most powerful British tanks had about 200 hp and the US and German tanks about the same or less. That’s where the real Russian production was always concentrated.

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    • Dolphin Member

      Ray, I think we have a deal.

      You buy this Volga. After all, according to the seller, at only $39,900…”This a GREAT and Rare opportunity to own a Volga Gaz 21 Take advantage of our low price! Vladimir Putin and Jay Leno have the same cars.”

      And I’ll buy affordable muscle and performance sportscars. That way we don’t compete with each other.

      I might live to regret this, tho….I’ve always wanted to play in the same league as Vlad and Jay.

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      • RayT Member

        Naaaah, Dolphin, if I’m going to spend Big Money I want to start my collection at the top, with at least a ZIL or Chaika, if not a Hong Qi!

        Warehouse #2 would be devoted to sports cars….

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  7. Frankie

    Du hast

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  8. Joe Howell

    A parts nightmare I should imagine. Spare parts were always a problem for the Soviets as everything went into the production of finished units. “Midnight Auto Supply” thrived there supplying stolen parts. Even something so simple as wiper blades had to be removed and safely stored when leaving your vehicle unattended least they disappear and good luck getting new ones. Tanks, planes and AK47’s they could make by the millions but they couldn’t supply enough wiper blades to go around.

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  9. Elyas

    Oh yes, there’s a ton of Volga in Cuba :)!!!

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  10. Paul Bellefeuille

    Every time I see one I think of this film.. “Sabre Dance” music and all..

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    • Roselandpete

      Yup, I was thinking of the same scene. Great flick.

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  11. Keith

    In Soviet Russia, car drives you! Oh wait, I guess that’s here in the USA now.

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  12. Jesper

    What a crazy price.
    In east Germany, you can find a nice one for 5-10,000 Euro.
    And a good projekt for 2500 euro.
    It drive like a wwII tank

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