Before and After: Sandy Flooded Aston Martin Lagonda and Volga GAZ-21

Aston-Martin-GAZ-Volga-Sandy-damage-auction project car hell

The last Project Car Hell, written by everyone’s favorite saucy minx, Murilee Martin, featured two vehicles that were victims of flooding from Super Storm Sandy. Normally, most of us would look at the two PCH cars, evaluate which one is less expensive, less of an overall horror, easier to repair, and pick the other. But this PCH was unlike any other… these cars, they were different.

The first car was an Aston Martin Lagonda Series 4. This was the very last of the Lagondas, with approximately one hundred made. Aston Martin gave this model a facelift, which is most evident in the more rounded body work and lack of pop-up headlights. Other upgrades consisted of chrome trim being color-coded to the rest of the car. Not a car one would see every day, now or in the past decades.

The second car was a Russian Volga GAZ-21. Produced from 1956 until 1970, it was styled after big American sedans and intended for government use. Some models featured such unmentionables as a V8 engine and automatic transmission! While probably relatively common around the Red Square in the height of Communism, it is now rarely seen anywhere. So, what in the hell is doing in on Long Island?

In a week where I was deprived of sleep and overworked, I went about picking my poison and almost missed the fact that these were so rare. I also missed the fact that both of them hailed from around the New York City area. Then I recalled that in 2011 I saw a similar Volga at the Greenwich Concours. Then I recalled that I saw a similar Aston Martin at the 2012 Greenwich Concours. That’s weird…

…Wait a minute…

…Could those be the same cars?


1989 Aston Martin Lagonda

The above are the pictures of the Aston Martin that Murilee pulled off the IAA insurance website listing (go here if the listing disappears). Note the color appears to be off, note the body style, the wheels, and the interior as compared to below. Sadly, this is the same car.

While at the Greenwich Concours I spent some time looking over the car. It was really magnificent, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way; friend of Hooniverse and Jalopnik contributor, Raphael Orlove had this to say about the Aston:

“I talked to that Lagonda owner for a bit – it was his third! It was actually the very last Lagonda brought into the US, an ’89 car. I don’t know what was more opulent, the blood red carpets, the stocked bar in the back, or the fitted purple leather luggage in the trunk. He really loves that car.”

Aston Martin Lagonda 1

Aston Martin Lagonda 2

1962 Volga GAZ-21

Like the Aston Martin, the below Volga was also found on the IAA Insurance company auction site (go here if the listing disappears). Judging by the color, the wheels, and the interior, that is definitely the same car as seen on the 2011 Greenwich Concours.

I remember that car making a big impression on me at the show, mostly because it wasn’t 100% original. No, it was much better than the original. There was no way in hell that a paint of this quality or interior filled with such rich fabrics ever left a Russian factory, neither now nor in the past.


Volga GAZ-24 front

Here is a sad observation I made: both cars were registered in the state of New York, and both are being sold by the Geico Insurance company from the Long Island town of Woodbury. Due to the fact that both are contestants of a prestigious concours event just a year apart, leads me to believe that both cars may have been owned by the same person, or persons.

Let’s hope that these cars were the biggest loses from the storm for their previous owner. Cars, like houses, can be replaced while life cannot. Though super rare, both of these vehicles can still be found or imported into the United States.

With regards to both of these cars; it looks like both of them were submerged in several feet of salt water. To save them one would need to remove EVERYTHING from them, and repair or replace. The best bet would be a rat-rod of some kind or a motorcycle-powered Lemons racer which would pay homage to these two breathtaking automobiles.

Volga GAZ-24 interior

Volga GAZ-24 rear 2

Volga GAZ-24 rear


  1. Damn. That Volga is a sad loss. That thing was beautiful. The real sadness is…that the Volga's current state is still probably legions ahead of the current state of my Niva…even after its ker-plunk in the ocean. 😛

  2. Nothing a little elbow grease and a drum of clorox can't fix. Shouldn't take more than a week to get them good as new. Now, if you want them to work…

  3. The Lagonda would be a mega hell project surpassing even a rusty Citroen SM. English electrics and salt water promise epic headaches even before you try restoring all the wood and leather. OTOH the Volga's simplicity means it can be brought back to life with a Stakhanovite cleaning and some new parts from the Rodina.

  4. That Volga shouldn't be too hard to restore. I mean it's still in better shape than most of its' brethren in Moscow, and it's got what, six wires total?

  5. Got to say that the Volga would be the easy choice.
    That said, the Lagonda (my childhood dream car) would be a good candidate for one of those "let's build it the way Aston should have built it", given that putting it back to factory would be Herculean task.
    The Evel Knievel Lagonda would be a good starting point.
    <img src="; width=600>
    It's got Chevy 502 and a 700R4 under the hood and a the electro-florescent dash has been swapped for round gauges.

  6. Thanks for posting this, you just confirmed something for me. Just recently I learned for the first time that the Lagondas had pop up headlights. I couldn't believe that I didn't know this.
    But now I understand, the only ones I have seen in person were the later ones, like the flooded one.

      1. Right on.
        Here is a fact: If I ever become a captain of industry I will eschew the obvious Rolls Phantom, Bentley or whatever plutocratic Deutche confection becomes popular with ogliarchs and magnates, and I will instead roll in a Lagonda. Ideally an early one with three, maybe four, working buttons.

  7. If it's the same Volga, then why is it missing parts like the taillights, emblems, hubcaps, etc.? Did the owner remove them? I didn't think you could do that unless you bought it back for the salvage value. I bought back our first Previa for $900 after it was totaled in a hit-and-run (yeah, he went to jail for nine months), stripped everything useful off it (drivetrain, interior, etc.), and then sold the shell for scrap.
    It's sad that running classics and collectibles couldn't have been moved to higher ground – they had several days' warning that Sandy was coming, and that it could be bad.

    1. Dude… this storm was insane… tunnels filled water, flooding all over lower Manhattan and Hoboken, no power for weeks, a whole neighborhood in Queens burned down. There was water and there never was water before.

  8. The locals know what high ground is. If you think you are on high ground, and know there's a hurricane coming, you worry about wind and debris and therefore keep your car in the garage where it's safe.
    This storm was unprecedented for most folks. They were wrong about what was high ground.

    1. Interesting how flood hazard maps from years before the storm closely followed the inundation extent. There was a big public information gap. People should have known better, but it's not necessarily their fault.
      I work on earthquakes, and we have similar concerns in our business. I think public outreach regarding earthquake hazards is better than for flood hazards, but I lack an outsider's perspective.

      1. Part of the problem was not being sure of just how the storm would track, not how severe the flood surge would be in different places. There's also the problem of trees being blown down well away from the coast. I know people who moved their car, because they were worried about a tree coming down on it, then a different branch broke off, blew over and smashed their shiny new SUV. God's judgment, I say.

        1. Another piece of the puzzle was the constant hype about every incoming weather event. With the forecasters constantly crying wolf, there was a tendency towards disbelief when the real threat came.

          1. New England.For desert states I imagine the recommend is to run outside when shaking begins. Here in the land of trees that may not be the thing to do. Or is it?Is there a website or something where folks can plug in an address and get localized earthquake commentary?

          2. The thing to do is to hide under sturdy furniture. Running outside can be hazardous because debris can fly off buildings and hurt people exiting buildings. It's actually a big problem in desert areas where tile roofs are common.
            Your question is a good one. We do have that in some parts of California, but I'm not aware of anything on a larger scale.
            I think the Southern California Earthquake Center's publication "Putting down roots in earthquake country" actually gives a lot of good general advice. In other parts of the country the level of risk is different, but the precautions and responses are the same. For example, in urban New England, I'd expect unreinforced masonry buildings and chimneys to be a major hazard.

          3. Wasn't hard to find me, the good ol' Mendocino Triple Junction made it pretty easy… (The dark stretch of coast in California just south of Oregon)

  9. I knew both cars pretty well, photographed them both at more than one event, the GAZ 21 also Volga appeared in my coverage of Carlisle Import Nationals over the summer.
    Its also quite possible that more than one Volga perished in the hurricane, as they were all concentrated in a very small area. There are at least five GAZ 21s on Long Island and coastal NJ.

  10. I knew boh cars pretty well, photographed the both at more than one event, the GAZ 21 Volga also appeared in my coverage of Carlisle Import Nationals over the summer.
    Its also quite possible that more than one Volga perished in the hurricane, as they were all concentrated in a very small area. There are at least five GAZ 21s on Long Island and coastal NJ.

  11. The V8 + auto combo Volgas are very rare KGB cars that feature a Chaika drivetrain. Those were often made to look like regular cars and were given a 3rd (dead) pedal to disguise it's true identity. They're very rare and are highly sought after.
    This car is probably just a regular 4-cyl example. Still a very cool ride. Should be far easier to restore.

  12. I knew both cars pretty well, photographed them both at more than one event, the GAZ 21 Volga also appeared in my coverage of Carlisle Import Nationals over the summer, and at Greenwich 2011.
    Here's a scary thought: its quite possible that more than one Volga perished in the hurricane, as they were all concentrated in a very small area. I've been told there are at least five GAZ 21s on Long Island and coastal NJ.

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