Trophy cars: how they were “finished” in the USSR

How many captured German cars ended up in the USSR after the Great Patriotic War and who drove them, we told here. In the second part of the story, we talked about where the most luxurious and rare cars ended up. But the history of these rarities is much more bizarre than you might think.

Technology difference

After the war, nobody paid much attention to massive Opels, BMWs, DKWs and even Mercedes on the street. They got used to it quickly. Although their designs also contained many surprising parts and assemblies for our motorists. Say, the same systems of centralized lubrication of the chassis, torsion bar suspensions for BMW parts, independent rear spring suspensions for Mercedes, engines with overhead valves, gearboxes with synchronizers.

Some BMWs had torsion bar suspension, unusual for our country.

Some BMWs had torsion bar suspension, unusual for our country.

Trophy cars: how they The front suspension design of the Opel Kapitan sedan has been migrated to our Pobeda. That made the repair of German cars easier.

The front suspension design of the Opel Kapitan sedan has been migrated to our Pobeda. That made the repair of German cars easier.

The front-wheel drive Audi, Adler and DKW were quite surprising. The latter also had smoking two-strokes and funny gear sticks sticking out of the instrument panel.

Wits deciphered DKV as follows: Fool Who Invented. Yet even these machines lived in careful hands for decades.

Trophy cars: how they The rarest Adler Trumph Junior with a Buhne body. Only 22 were made. A neat plastic roof instead of a canopy is the creation of the Moscow owner.

The rarest Adler Trumph Junior with a Buhne body. Only 22 were made. A neat plastic roof instead of a canopy is the creation of the Moscow owner.

Trophy cars: how they Adler Trumph Junior is an exotic front wheel drive design for our country with a 32 hp engine. and mechanical brakes.

Adler Trumph Junior is an exotic front wheel drive design for our country with a 32 hp engine. and mechanical brakes.

The survivability of German cars was, of course, not only explained by their reliability and the fact that private owners drove much less then than now. The Soviet citizens were accustomed to stocking everything they could, in advance with spare parts occasionally brought in from Germany, as well as from emergency or completely worn out cars. German standardization also helped: oil seals, bearings and some other parts fit models of different brands.

They fixed something that wouldn’t have come up to fix by now. Artur Leshtin recalled how he with difficulty repaired the broken shaft of the compressor Mercedes-Benz 500K. The alternative is to create a new one. And the craftsmen, in the presence of machines, did!

Trophy cars: how they The trunk and lights welded to the BMW 326 of the 21st Volga are quite typical “tuning” of pre-war German cars in the USSR.

The trunk and lights welded to the BMW 326 of the 21st Volga are quite typical “tuning” of pre-war German cars in the USSR.

But gradually, of course, many cars became overgrown with domestic suspensions, engines and gearboxes. The electricity was switched from 6 to 12 volts. They refreshed the salons to the best of their ability and introduced modern chairs and appliances there. Engines from Pobeda, Volga and Muscovites took root relatively easily in BMWs and Opels. This was more difficult with large machines. But Leshtin was talking about the rare Horch 780 with the “six” from the GAZ‑51. Even modernized front-wheel drive cars. The famous Adler Trumph Junior, who starred in The Prisoner of the Caucasus, did not get front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive at the time of filming – he had Moskvich units.

Trophy cars: how they Absolutely alive and kicking in the mid-70s, the Mercedes-Benz 230 of the W143 family. The whole country knew such a car with a 55 hp 2.2 liter engine from the Stirlitz series.

Absolutely alive and kicking in the mid-70s, the Mercedes-Benz 230 of the W143 family. The whole country knew such a car with a 55 hp 2.2 liter engine from the Stirlitz series.

Convertibles, so sought after today, were not particularly appreciated at the time and were sometimes equipped with makeshift roofs – more durable and suitable for our climate. And other owners have even welded cases to old bodies. The design has become the same! You can all call it a “collective farm”, but it was a family car for all occasions.

Trophy cars: how they Opel 2 l with a 36 hp 6 cylinder engine. in excellent, original condition – Latvia, 1975

Opel 2 l with a 36 hp 6 cylinder engine. in excellent, original condition – Latvia, 1975

The circle of people who treat pre-war cars more economically, however, gradually grew. Some not only repaired antiquities, somehow supported them along the way, but also engaged in restoration. After the country’s first antique car club in Riga, similar clubs began to appear in other cities. Nevertheless, the majority did not represent the real price of even expensive and rare cars at the time. Many willingly sold them for the price of new Moskvich or Zhiguli, or even exchanged them for imported radio equipment.

Trophy cars: how they Mercedes-Benz 200 from the first half of the 1930s, which kept its original independent suspension on a transverse spring until the beginning of the 21st century.

Mercedes-Benz 200 from the first half of the 1930s, which kept its original independent suspension on a transverse spring until the beginning of the 21st century.

But already in the 1960s, foreigners began to show an interest in Soviet rarities. In 1967, Leshtin sold his rarest Mercedes-Benz 540K roadster to Swedish journalist Alf Johanson, who calmly drove him home.

Trophy cars: how they One of thirty Horch 930 roadsters built by the Erdmann & Rossi studio of Kalinin (now Tver) moved to Moscow to Artur Leshtin, then to Riga and then to Germany. He starred in the movies “Nameless Star” and “Long Road in the Dunes”.

One of thirty Horch 930 roadsters built by the Erdmann & Rossi studio of Kalinin (now Tver) moved to Moscow to Artur Leshtin, then to Riga and then to Germany. He starred in the movies “Nameless Star” and “Long Road in the Dunes”.

Trophy cars: how they Roadster Mercedes-Benz 540K of Artur Leshtin, who left for Sweden in 1967.

Roadster Mercedes-Benz 540K of Artur Leshtin, who left for Sweden in 1967.

Trophy cars: how they Convertible DKW F8 with two-stroke engine.

Convertible DKW F8 with two-stroke engine.

Later, the Union traveled in search of rarities, widely known in narrow circles of retro enthusiasts, and partly the legendary Paul (aka Paul) Karasik, a native of Western Ukraine, who, as they say, made capital in the United States in the funeral business.

Especially during the perestroika many cars were taken away. But strangely enough, something remained. Although they are mass models that were not really taken care of, they are now more difficult to see than the luxurious Horchs and Mercedeses, many of which have been brought from Western Europe in recent decades.

It is a pity, however, that not only the almost disappeared cars have been miraculously preserved in their original state or restored by Soviet craftsmen. In part, it’s a shame that there are even some converted ones. Let it be “collective farming”, but at the same time they are also artifacts of the time, monuments of ingenuity, ingenuity and hard work of his contemporaries.

  • Check out the 90’s most rambunctious automatic adjustments here.
  • “Behind the wheel” can also be read on VKontakte.

Source: Z R

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