ZIL represented the ultimate in Soviet motoring luxury; mere money was not enough to buy one, one had also to be either a senior figure in the Soviet armed forces, or else a Politburo heavyweight in Moscow. They were to be seen lumbering around the “officials only” lanes in Moscow and occasionally in diplomatic use in the more important Embassies around the world.
This is a comparatively late example of the Marque dating from 1986, in the final years before the Wall came down, but still was felt to need extraordinarily robust armour including the ability to fend off a .303 bullet at any point in the metalwork. The floor was also mine-proof, being in some places over 25mm thick, which probably did more for the occupants’ sense of security than it did for the cars handling. Even so the imposing 7.5L engine produced over 300 horsepower so that the top speed of over 110mph meant that the armour plating might not be put to the test.
Like most cars of this size and nature, they looked best and most imposing in glossy Black; in this example the chauffeur’s compartment is upholstered in its original black leather, with beautifully trimmed Havana Gold cloth trim, the last word in Soviet luxury.
These extraordinary cars are now becoming a curiosity as the era they represented slips into history, but they represent their time and place of their origin as virtually nothing else does.