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.
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
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.
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]