ZIL 114

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Description: Photos courtesy Coys. The only scrap of evidence that ties the 1977 ZiL 114 limousine coming up for auction in Germany later this month to former Communist lead

The only scrap of evidence that ties the 1977 ZiL 114 limousine coming up for auction in Germany later this month to former Communist leader Leonid Brezhnev is literally a scrap of paper: a note found in the car purporting that it was Brezhnev’s personal car. Whatever its provenance, the aging limousine remains a rare example of Soviet sumptuousness.

Though normally concerned with truck and bus manufacturing during the Soviet years, ZiL devoted a portion of its Moscow works to producing no more than a couple dozen automobiles per year—typically limousines reserved for only the top-ranking Soviet political and military leaders.

Introduced in 1967 to replace the aging 111 series, the ZiL 114 benefited from more than just crisper (and more anonymous) styling than its predecessor; it also sat on a longer wheelbase, used an X-frame chassis with revised front and rear suspension, and had a triple-circuit braking system that fed four-wheel disc brakes. To move the 7,000-pound bulk of the limousine around, ZiL powered it with a 300-hp 7.0-liter (425-cu.in.) V-8 capable of a 119 MPH top speed. ZiL built the 114 at least into the late 1970s until replacing it with the 4104 limousine, though production totals amounted to about 150, none of which were offered to the general public.

Brezhnev, according to reports, appreciated many cars over his lifetime: According to a Bloomberg article from several years back, he owned a total of 82 cars. including 21 at the time of his death in 1982, and often insisted on driving himself around—at breakneck speeds. His enthusiasm for automobiles extended to those from the United States too. For his meetings with the general secretary, President Richard Nixon brought Brezhnev a number of American cars. including a Cadillac limousine, a Lincoln Continental and a Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

The 114 limousine coming up for auction, chassis number 22. comes out of Belgium and reportedly still has its original interior (leather for the chauffeur, gray cloth for the passenger). No pre-auction estimate has been released for it, though Coys did sell another ZiL—a 1986 115—earlier this year for $97,890, and another limousine reportedly connected to Brezhnev—a 1973 Nissan President gifted to him by a Japanese minister—had no takers at $145,000 at a Sotheby’s sale in 2006. The ZiL 114 will be offered with no reserve.

The Coys Techno Classica auction will take place April 18 in Essen, Germany. For more information, visit Coys.co.uk .

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