From Stalin’s Packard to Putin’s Aurus – it’s the history of Russia told on four wheels.
This new exhibited, featuring vintage cars from the Kremlin’s garage, is being staged to mark the 100th anniversary of Russia’s Special-Purpose Museum of Russian Federal Guard Service.
“The opening has been launched on the occasion of this anniversary,” explains museum spokeswoman Oksana Serpak.
“Unconditionally, this museum became the keeper of history of this legendary department and, of course, (it became) the centre for study and popularisation of the world and national development of the automobilism.”
The oldest relic in the exhibit is this Mercedes prototype, a similar model was used by the last Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II. It’s on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
There’s also armoured vehicles used by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
For a while, Stalin used a US-made Packard Twelve, but later switched to a Soviet-built ZIS limousine.
“He rode ZIS for the last three years of his life, from 1950. Before then, he rode the Packard,” explains Serpak.
One of the most popular vehicles in the exhibit is this luxury Aurus used by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a legendary model, because Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin came to his inauguration in the Kremlin in this very car, in May 2018,” says Serpak.
Besides the unique four-wheeled exhibits themselves, the display also includes a traffic safety corner, where visitors can pass a virtual driving test, interactive devices that show how vintage car parts work, and a masterclass area that focuses on car engineering.
Such in-depth information would never have been shared back in Soviet times, says Serpak.
“During the Soviet time, when the production of ZIS and then ZIL was underway, of course, elaborations were classified,” she says.
“For now, everything is declassified. All the declassified information is available in our museum. You can consult it and read about it. We expose absolutely unique archive documents, we show unique photos and videos. We are open, and it’s available.”
Russia’s Special Purpose Garage was created following the Resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars in 1921.
At different times, the garage fleet consisted of models made in Russia and overseas.
Serpak says the era starting in the 1990s until 2018 was dominated by German-made Mercedes cars and BMW motorcycles due to a lack of national production. In 2018 Russian luxury cars Aurus replaced German Mercedes.
The Special Purpose Garage is currently a subdivision of the Russian Guard Service.
Garage personnel ensure the safe transportation of the President and Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, the heads of both Houses of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and leaders of foreign countries who are visiting Russia.
“It’s beautiful. I’ve been wanting to see the presidential garage, the cars our leaders of proletariats used to drive. All this is very interesting,” says visitor Nikolay.