ZiL is a major Russian truck and heavy equipment manufacturer, which also produced armored cars for most Soviet leaders, as well as buses, armored fighting vehicles, and aerosani. The company also produces hand-built limousines and high-end luxury sedans in extremely low quantities, primarily for the Russian government. ZiL passenger cars are priced at the equivalent of models from Maybach and Rolls-Royce, but are largely unknown outside the CIS and production rarely exceeds a dozen cars per year.
Let’s visit its limousine production department and find out what their secret and plans for the future are.
They stopped their limo mass production in 1999. Actually, they never put their limos into mass production because each car is individual and handmade. In the Soviet time, they would produce about 25 limos a year. However, in the early 2000s there was no necessity to produce these cars anymore because government officials switched to the Mercedes. They resumed the work in 2007 and now they manufacture and repair their old or damaged models.
“Be careful while working!”
So, how and who they assemble their limos for?
Right now, this old limo with bullet holes on the windows is being repaired. After the reconstruction, it is going to look just like new.
Most of the limos by ZiL can be found in private collections. They are really very valuable because each limo is handmade and unique.
ZiL limos are equipped with 8-cylinder 7.7 l 315 hp engines! Their fuel consumption is 30 to 40 l for 100 km; maximum speed is claimed to be 200 km/h. It’s almost a sports car which costs ZiL from 100 to 150 thousand dollars to produce (each). They sell their limos for about 250 thousand dollars which is obviously overpriced.
In 2010, they assembled four limos for the parade which was to take place on Red Square on May, 9th. However, Ministry of Defense canceled its order and exposed other cars instead.
One of the four limos has been sold to a collector from Ukraine. They are estimated at 360,000 dollars.
Looking at all these people you come to think that what they do is more than just a job for them.
“Clean up the machine after work”.
Average salary of a regular ZiL worker is $800 a month.
In Soviet times, the company would employ over 800 people. Now there are just 172 workers many of whom have been working here all their life.
Some say that right now they are designing cars for members of Russian government or even for the president himself!
They hope to resume mass production (if we can call it “mass”) in future and promise to raise salaries to ZiL workers.
Just think about that! British Elizabeth has a Rolls-Royce and American President travels in his Cadillac. Maybe it’s time for Russian government to turn to Russian cars too and at the same time help the company which has produced cars for Gorbachev and Brezhnev.