Americans Test Drove the Russian Pobeda
Back in the mid 1950′s, Soviet cars were slowly gaining ground in Eastern and more importantly Western Europe. With a socialist mentality, it was believed that Soviet workers would build a high quality car for a fraction of the labor costs of their western counterparts. While Russia isn’t really known for its high quality vehicles, one of the first Russian cars that managed to break into western markets was the GAZ M20V, more commonly known as Pobeda (Russian for Victory).
To this day you will find these cars still running on the streets of Russia and many other former Soviet states. The Pobeda has evolved a great deal over time, and up until the collapse of the Soviet Union it was a powerhouse. When GAZ first started making the M20V, most westerners looked at it like a joke. But after sales in Western Europe began to pick up, America’s curiosity was sparked. Life Magazine then purchased one of the cars and shipped it to America to give it a test run. The results were interesting.
Life praised the vehicle for its reliability and simplicity, also for its price and comfort. Some criticism was also present, such as its poor rearward vision, but all in all the review was positive. The top most picture shows the Life Magazine testers wearing a helmet while in the back seat, I’m not sure if this was a joke or they truly were scared for their lives, but in the end the overall impression was quite positive.
The following a series of photos from the article in question. You can see how they began comparing it with some American car, and next to it the Pobeda definitely has a more majestic look.