There is no getting around it: the GAZ 24 is a rare sight on our roads. For every GAZ in the US, there are approximately ten Tatras, which puts that into perspective. I mean, when was the last time you saw a Tatra anyway? Not counting the one we saw last week at Greenwich Concours’ Bonhams auction. And, umm, not counting the two that we featured last year on Redusernab. And not counting the Tatra I am probably going to see tomorrow.
The 1976 GAZ 24 above appeared at Misselwood Concours d’Elegance in 2011, where it attracted quite a bit of attention from the crowds, as you might expect. And the 2013 edition of Misselwood Concours is just around the corner, so it’s not too early to start making plans. The concours will take place on July 28th on the grounds of the Misselwood estate at Endicott College, in Beverly, Massachusetts. And with the untimely demise of the Fairfield County Concours as well as the Newport Concours, Misselwood has emerged as a popular event during the second half of the summer. And given it’s spectacular location, right on the cliffs overlooking Beverly Harbor and Salem Sound, with the city of Boston visible in the distance, it’s easy to see why this event has grown so much during its first three years. Now let’s take a look at this Volga from Misselwood 2011.
The GAZ entered production in 1970 just as the long-lived GAZ 21 that had been the Gorky plant’s staple was finally taking a bow. As popular as the 21 was, the design and mechanicals had become outdated by second half of the 1960s, even by Soviet standards. And as unreachable as the GAZ 21 was for the average Soviet citizen, effectively being the most expensive car that one could privately buy, the 24 would take on that mantle as well.
The 24 premiered with a 2.4 liter carburetted inline-four engine making 95bhp. In a slight departure from the 21, power driven to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission with a gearshift mounted on the transmission tunnel, as opposed to the steering column. Despite the car’s resemblance to the Volvo 140 series, at least in photos, in person the car has very little in common visually with the Volvo. The GAZ 24 happened to be one of those rare Soviet cars whose design was not directly influenced by any one western automobile. In person the car tends to resemble a Plymouth Valiant or Dodge Dart from the late 1960s than any Volvo model, truth be told.
Over the years a great number of versions of the GAZ 24 were made. These ranged from relatively basic ones like the 2402 station wagon, to more exotic ones like the 2454 RHD version, less than a thousand of which were made. Other rare variants included the 2424 5.5 liter V8-powered sedan which was made for state security services, a 2407 propane-powered version for taxi services, and a 2495 AWD sedan. It’s not that unusual to still see a 2476 or 2477 in Belgium, which was one of the primary export markets for the GAZ 24, and one where the GAZ was powered by a Peugeot-Indenor diesel engine.
The 24 was not really replaced by the end of its production cycle in 1985 after 15 years (which was way past its replacement date anyway), but it was rather facelifted into the GAZ 2410. The differences between te 24 and 2410 weren’t especially revolutionary. On the outside the car’s chrome grille was swapped out for a plastic one, and fridge door handles were replaced with square ones that sunk in the door, like on a Peugeot 505. The 2410 also received a revised interior and dash.
Earlier in the decade, the 24 actually spawned a parallel car based on the same basic structure of the 24 called the 3102, which was meant to be a more upscale sedan meant for local government big shots and such. Despite some exterior differences with the 2410, a lot of the parts in the 3102 were interchangeable with the other cars. So it’s not unusual to see a lot of 24s and its siblings with parts from the 3102 and even later cars, one that were made in the 1990s.
This example appeared to be more or less well restored, though it didn’t take a Volga expert to notice some modern touches. The interchageability of parts between the 24 and its myriad of successors (some of which just recently exited production) means that during a typical restoration process, modern GAZ parts and non-OEM parts are often used. The sort of concours judging that might wreck the reputation of a Pontiac Tempest at a judged concours event is not a thing that this GAZ 24 has to worry about (because who in the world’s going to be able to tell?) but the seats in the 24 did appear to have been redone to a more modern standard. Some of the panel gaps as well did not suggest that all of its body panels were original to this one car, and there was no way to verify whether the engine had been replaced with a later fuel-injected unit. Overall, aside from the paint this car looked pretty close to stock.
There is not a single 2402 station wagon in the US from what I hear, so that’s still out there in case you want to be the first person to bring one in. Just sayin’
The 2013 Misselwood Concours d’Elegance will take place on July 28th on the grounds of the Misselwood estate at Endicott College, in Beverly Massachusetts. Rain or shine.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Redusernab/Jay Ramey]