1974 Gaz-13 Chaika Limousine

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 Only the manual choke and hand throttle seem out of date.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.

Paul Duchene

Paul Duchene - SCM Contributor - %%page%%

Paul grew up in England and has been riding, driving (and mostly writing about) cars and motorcycles since 1958, when he bought a 1939 James Autocycle for $5. He’s written for daily newspapers and magazines for 40 years, including the Chicago Tribune and New York Times, and has owned upwards of 200 cars and 30 motorcycles, most of which survived to be sold. His daily driver is a 1984 Cadillac Seville in Palomino Firemist, but on sunny days you’ll find him grinning over the windshield of a 1968 Siata Spring.

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