Russian company, Zavod imeni Likhachova (commonly known as ZIL), is a major heavy vehicle manufacturer. They are well known for their trucks and buses but they also manufacture armoured limos and up-scale sedans for rich and influential Russians (including former Soviet officials) for many decades.
The pictures you see here are from Zil’s manufacturing facility. For most parts of the twentieth century, Russian politicians and the wealthy roll around in ZIL limos. The company’s first limo was introduced in 1936 but production for these limos stopped in 1999. The company never mass produced with each car being handmade and unique.
A limo with bullet holes in the rear windscreen being repaired.
During the period of the Soviet Union, the company produced around 25 units annually and were used mainly by Soviet officials. But in 1999, the company did not see the need to produce the cars and closed their premium car division.
This is due mainly for the government’s decision to switch to German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz cars as their official vehicles. Probable reasons why this happened is because the ZIL cars are still based on a 1980s design.
Every car is handmade.
But that was not the end for Zil’s premium cars. In 2007, the company reopened the abovementioned division and started repairing old and/or damaged models. At the same time, they also produced a limited number of limos each year (around 5 – 7 units) for private collectors.
A new, hand built limo weighs around 3.5 tonnes and is powered by a 7.7 litre, 8 cylinder engine that produces 315bhp. Top speed is said to be around 200km/h. The price of each limo depends on customers’ desired options. On an average, each limo can cost around US$250,000 (S$314,045).
During the soviet era, the company had over 800 people working in the facility. Now, there are just 172 people working, on an average salary of US$800 per month. Some have worked at the factory for all their life.
ZIL are looking into resuming “mass production” to increase the salaries of their workers. Maybe, it is time for their government officials to use these cars again. They may not be modern looking or feature today’s technologies but at least with the sales of these cars increased, that would help their people.
Photo credit: englishrussia.com
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