I suspect this car falls into the same class of collectible as hearses-you can't get away from the Dark Side
This Russian Gaz-13 "Chaika" limousine is number 2,511 of only 3,719 built between 1959 and 1981. The Chaika-which means Gull-was favored by Kremlin officials, Soviet heads of state, and senior KGB officers. To the average Russian, however, the cars were sinister symbols of the terrible power of the state. The large rear seat made it easy for the KGB to simply pull up beside citizens on the sidewalk and drag them into the car for a trip to the feared Lubyanka prison. Nikita Khrushchev was known to have three Chaikas at his disposal and Premier Brezhnev reportedly preferred his Chaika over his ZIL, another Russian luxury car. Official Russian policy dictated that the cars be destroyed at the end of their duty cycle, so few survive. This 1974 Gaz-13 Chaika Limousine was sent out of Russia to Lithuania and used by Algirdas Brazauskas, the former Chairman of the Central Committee in Lithuania, during the Soviet era. He was elected first president after independence and is the current prime minister. This is understood to be the only Chaika to have been restored. In 2000, the body was stripped of all cosmetic items, including the windshield, and repainted in original black. The interior was retrimmed in gray cloth with white vinyl. The carpets were replaced and a new headliner fitted. The trunk was retrimmed and repainted, as was the engine compartment. Mechanically, the car is sound and starts quickly even after lengthy storage. It runs well and has been driven only 1,000 kilometers since restoration. While the styling definitely shows Detroit influences, the Chaika has a firm ride and the steering has excellent "feel"-more like a Mercedes-Benz than a '50s American car. The workmanship, fit, and finish of even small items such as knobs and switches is excellent. The 200-hp V8 engine is relatively silent. Only the manual choke and hand throttle seem out of date. The push-button, three-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and the power brakes are a copy of the Kelsey-Hayes Treadle-Vac brake booster. Included with the car are the original unused spare tire, jack, tire pump, and Russian flat repair kit, plus tools, reprinted owner's handbook, and parts catalog in English and Russian. Even the fire extinguisher is Russian. A collection of rare memorabilia such as original sales brochures (in English and Russian), original key chain and fob, and a Russian made 1/43rd-scale model Gaz Chaika are included.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1974 Gaz-13 Chaika
Number Produced:3,719
Original List Price:Not sold to public
Tune Up Cost:Hard to say, after oil and plugs
Distributor Caps:Try the factory at [email protected]
Chassis Number Location:Plate on right side of firewall
Engine Number Location:As above
Club Info:Packards International keeps a Chaika registry. Call 714.541.8431 or e-mail markbeythoun@e-ventcentral .com.
Investment Grade:D

This 1974 Gaz-13 Chaika Limousine sold for $43,200 at the Barrett-Jackson Arizona auction on January 19, 2006.
The Chaika Limousine was a gamble at this all-American show, but the seller, an Oregon-based SCMer, said that he came out ahead even after shipping it from England.
Stalin was a great admirer of 1930s Packards and the immediate post-war ZIS (Zavod Imeni Stalina) was assumed by many to have resulted from FDR’s gift of the 1942 Packard 160 and 180 dies to the Soviets. (That series did not resume in the U.S. after WWII.)
However, when compared side-by-side, which I had the opportunity to do, nothing matches. The ZIS rear fenders look more like a Cadillac and the Russian proportions miss the crisp Packard execution.
The Chaika is also an approximate copy, as the Russians continued to dip into Detroit parts bins at random through the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, with ZIL (Zavod Imeni Lihacheva) limousines.
The 1955 Packard redesign was lifted wholesale for the ZIL “111” including the wrap-around windshield, cowled headlights, and even the “V” in the egg-crate grille. ZIL also copied a 360-ci V8 and automatic transmission.
GAZ-13 (which stands for Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) took a bunch of the same cues but muddled them up with Lincoln details along the side to produce the 1959 Chaika. It looks like a sober 1957 American sedan, with V8 engine (though aluminum), automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes.
I suspect this 1974 Gaz-13 Chaika Limousine falls into the same class of collectible as hearses-you can’t get away from the Dark Side. There aren’t any good connotations to be drawn from a brutal symbol of a repressive regime. Nobody collects Ford Falcons from Argentina, either. I don’t know any Eastern Europeans who’d think it funny to drive a Chaika, and I’ll bet there are neighborhoods you’d be wise to avoid if you do.
The other difficult issue is spares. I almost bought a Swiss Condor motorcycle years ago with only 16 kilometers on the odometer. The seller told me the model was only made for the Swiss Army-indeed, it was in olive drab-and after a couple of jokes about Swiss Army knives (“Get by me, pal, and you’re up against the guy with the spoons”), I asked him the odds on finding spares. He was honest enough to say, “Not good. Why do you think it’s unridden?” There is a GAZ spares site at www.oldclassiccar.co.uk, but you’re likely to find parts in Cuba. Best bet is to try the factory, which still makes trucks.
This Gaz-13 Chaika Limousine was in spectacular condition, and consequently drew all the money. It’s purely a museum piece and, fittingly, went to the LeMay collection in Tacoma, Washington.

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