Monday, June 29, 2015

Amidst of Slew of American Classics, a Quartet of Soviets Stand Alone

Over 500 cars sat gleaming in the high heat along Greenwood Avenue on Saturday as thousands of spectators walked the mile long stretch between North 88th Street and North 67th Street in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.

Ford, General Motors and Mopar vehicles filled the street, but nearing the end of the section blocked off for the show, four cars seemed out of place geographically and generationally.

A Moskovich 427, Lada Riva, Volkswagen Thing and a UAZ 469 B sat abreast one another on the west side of Greenwood Avenue. A Thing isn't terribly out of place, about a half dozen others were at the show, but the Moskovich, Lada and UAZ are cars one doesn't generally see on this side of the world.

"It just makes people happy when they see a car like this," said Rudolf Ross, who along with his father, Simon Ross, brought these examples from their collection to the show.
This UAZ 469 B was given to a cosmonaut in place of a bonus
during the Soviet regime.

Born in the USSR in what is now Kazakhstan, Simon Ross always felt a passion for Soviet era cars. Simon owns 35 cars which all started their life in the Soviet Union, most of them in full working order and driven frequently. None of the cars at the show were brought on a trailer, although the iconic East German Trabant 601 was a last minute scratch, as it was spitting oil and sending up red flags.

"A car not driven is not a car," said Simon.

In order to keep his collection of notoriously unreliable cars running, Simon brought his father-in-law, a mechanic in Russia, stateside to work on them and keep them operational. He uses only original equipment manufactured (OEM) parts on his vehicles, which can sometimes take months to find and import, if the part is not something that can be found on many of the donor parts cars also imported.

A Moskovich 427 was a very high end car in the USSR,
this one belonged to someone high up in the party.
Finding the cars themselves is not an easy task. Under the Putin regime, exporting and importing cars out of the Russian Federation is heavily taxed, sometimes equaling or exceeding the original price of the vehicle. Because of this, Simon gets most of his cars from Bulgaria, Georgia or Ukraine.

The cars Simon is importing are not collectibles in their countries of origin, and this means they are not easy to find in good condition. It can take months, or even years to find the right car, so instead of spending most of the year traveling on this, Simon has people like Dmitri Vilchynskyi, of Ukraine, seeking out the cars for him.

Vilchynskyi, an old friend of Simon's, helped to bring more than 20 cars stateside. Vilchynskyi said he did it to help save the old cars, and he enjoyed the hunt. They aren't cars you can find at a dealer, Vilchynskyi said, you have to search them out and find a good one from a private seller.
The Lada Riva, based off the Fiat 131, was produced for over 30
years. Production finally ceased in 2010. This example is from 1976.

Simon and Rudolf Ross will be displaying their collection as well as auctioning off some of their vehicles August 14-16 at Saghalie City Park in Federal Way. For more information visit their website at www.sovietcar.com.

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