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Soviet Police Cars in 1:43 Are Cooler, Weirder Than Most Other Diecast Cars

Jay Ramey March 7, 2013 Diecast Delights 19 Comments

mils 1

Not all Eastern Bloc police agencies were condemned to cars that hit 100km/h in 22 seconds flat. Some lucky departments got cars that managed to hit that speed in a blistering 19 seconds, and could maintain high speeds for entire minutes at a time, until the benzine ran out and they had to pull over and everyone (passerbys included) had to chip in to buy some 76 octane benzine. And then they continue the high speed pursuit. However, some police departments were more equal than others, so they got a choice of slightly more capable vehicles. What were those vehicles, exactly? How about Mercedes-Benz W108, W116 and BMW E3 saloons, or Tatra 613s. Or even ZiL 119 V8-powered luxury minibuses based on the ZiL 114 limo.

Even though one can’t drive most of those cars, as a lot of them have been driven into the ground by now, you can enjoy them in 1:43 scale. Produced by IXO, IST, DeAgostini, and Adler, these Soviet and Eastern Bloc police cars are intricately detailed and quite affordable. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

mils 2

The GAZ 24 was a staple of Russian and Eastern Bloc police departments, or the militsiya as they were called in the USSR. The GAZ 24 took over in the early 1970s from the GAZ 21, which was one of the most common sedans used in the USSR ad Eastern Bloc countries by traffic police. The GAZ 24 had a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine in its standard configuration, making just under 100bhp. The 24 was typically a car driven by militsiya captains, while the junior officers had to make do with VAZ 2101 sedans. The 24 was a popular choice among militsiya departments till the late 80s, though it was never quite replaced by the GAZ models that came later, like the 3102 or the 31029. By the way, that thing on the trunk is a message board that lights up with the letters “stop” to pull over cars. This one is made by IST and sells for around $50.00

mils 3

The Mercedes-Benz W108 is fairly representative of the western automobiles that served as escort cars for government motorcades. There were quite a few western cars in these special escort units, ranging from the W116 to the W123, and BMW E12 through the E28. Tatra 613s were also used, though not in any great number. The militsiya’s top generals frequently tooled around in swanky rides, like unmarked Mercedes, Volvo, and Opel sedans with lots of antennas, till the Politburo tried to put a stop to that in the early 1980s, even firing the ministry head at the time. The use of Mercedes-Benz militsiya escort cars for motorcades continues till the present day, though I’ve heard that a lot of regular Russian police cars are Mercedes-Benz or Ford now anyway. This limited edition model is made by Adler and retails for around $65.00.

mils 4

Now here’s rare beast, a ZiL 119 Yunost V8-powered “forensic laboratory” minibus based on the ZiL 114 government limousine. These were made by hand in very small numbers, and were essentially an updated version of the curvier ZiL 118 minibus. Just 86 of these were made over the span of about 20 years. The militsiya had a few of these and used them as mobile command posts during special operations, as crime scene investigation cars, or as recreational vehicles to go out to the dacha on the weekends and grill some shish kebabs. This one is made by DeAgostini, and retails for about $15.00 along with a small magazine. As you would expect, The eBays are the best and perhaps the only place to find all of these.

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]

  • Ooooh…these would look interesting in my bookcase of awesome automotive stuff.

  • dukeisduke

    Wow, awesome.

  • TrueBlue315

    These look more detailed in 1:43 scale than half the stuff I see in 1:18. That GAZ is beautiful

    • Sjalabais

      …and they are probably made with more love than the 1:1 models.

    • Jay_Ramey

      Yeah, that little GAZ was definitely the best executed of the three I have to say, the details were awesomely done, and those antennas really give it life.

  • CherokeeOwner

    I want that bus.

    • Jay_Ramey

      There's a bunch of diff ZiL 118s and 119s that you can get now, I might do a separate post on just the 118s and 119s soon.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    There is something wrong with me. I looked at the top photo and thought, "Why would they use a Volvo 140 when they could just use a Volga?"

    • Sjalabais

      Your post alone explains why I have mentioned my love for the GAZ 24 all over the Hooniverse.


      • Jay_Ramey

        There's a red GAZ 24 one in the Boston area actually, one of just a handful in the states, it's appeared at Greenwich Concours and North Shore Concours

    • Jay_Ramey

      They did have some 240s in the late 80s, a very limited number, and then one city got a whole fleet of late model 240s in the mid-1990s that largely survived until 2007 or so.

  • Manic_King

    Gaz 24 Volga was car for lieutenant or similar a bit higher guy in the hierarchy of soviet police force. Usual patrol car was UAZ 469, special hard top version, bright yellow and featureless, these had nickname "lemon". Model would be this:

    <img src="http://russiancarandtruckmodels.hypermart.net/forsalepics/UAZ469B_1975_MILICIA_YELLOW_IST.jpg"&gt; <a href="http://russiancarandtruckmodels.hypermart.net/forsale.html” target=”_blank”>http://russiancarandtruckmodels.hypermart.net/forsale.html

    • synchromesh

      I never heard that nickname before and I'm from that country originally. 🙂 Generally these were called "bobik" which is a generic pet name for a dog. I also heard them being called "kozel" which means goat.

      Btw, Russian police also used rotary-engine Ladas which were produced in small numbers. Those had 0-100kph in well under 10 seconds. And KGB/police escorts used V8-equipped Volgas too. They're quite rare and have drivetrain from Chaika complete with automatic transmission. Some actually got sold off to private citizens after serving their time. They often came with a 90kg plate in the trunk to offset the relatively light rear end.

      • Manic_King

        Must be regional name then, as I'm from ex USSR too (Baltics).
        I found yesterday that ZAZ produced quite stupid looking 968mp pick-up I've never heard of. Shows how desperate times were around 1990.

    • Goodwin

      These would generaly be used in small towns. They were less popular on big city streets.
      BTW their updated version with better suspension and power steering is often used in small towns.

      • Manic_King

        I grew up in capital of soviet rep., town of 350k people so not too small and these were everywhere.
        USSR, like other countries, had not one but many police forces. Traffic police used mainly VAZ, sometimes AZLK cars, police forces which needed to transport people like demonstrators, dissidents, punks, drunks or petty criminals to jail used UAZes as there was cell in the back of that thing, even this model has visible bars.