Presidential Cars

The U.S. Presidential State car has historically been produced by General Motors. Obama rides around in style, in a car dubbed as “Cadillac One.”

In France, Sarkozy used the Peugeot 607 for his inaugural parade. Peugeot is a French automaker.

So what do they do in Russia? For some time now, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has been tooling around in – wait for it – a Mercedes-Benz. (Mercedes-Benz is a German company). This is a tradition that dates back only to the Boris Yeltsin-era.

According to a May 2010 Guardian article, “Until now, the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has expressed a preference for German vehicles – a love affair that may have begun when he was a KGB spy in east Germany. He has been keen to restore the emblems of superpower status, including the Soviet national anthem and showing off tanks and intercontinental missiles at the annual Red Square parade.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but change is quickly coming to Russia. Back in May 2010, The Moscow Times reported that Medvedev ordered his administration to look into renewing the production of limousines by ZiL (a Russian car manufacturer).

Earlier this month, concept images of the Russian presidential ZiL limousine were released. The designs are by Slava Saakyan (a design company, named after its founder).

ZiL Limousine Concept Picture

Typically when thinking about concept cars, I think about sleek futuristic looking cars. Even the term “concept car,” brings up images in my head of a Yahoo! article about the “Top 10 Weirdest Looking Cars of the Future,” or something to that effect.

Looking at images of the ZiL doesn’t make me think about the future. This car pretty much looks like it came straight out of the 1980s. I can imagine it fitting in perfectly on the set of “A View to Kill,” or “The Living Daylight.” (Both are James Bond movies, for the culturally uninformed). Maybe that’s what Medvedev was going for?

But the car isn’t completely without updates.

According to an article from, “Saakyan have designed the new Zil which is the base model incorporated with some new features. The car this time is secure as it has done away with the rear window which was an easy point of access for probable assassins; as well the car is comfortable. The newly creased edges have also been cleaned up in the modern design of the Zil.”

Although surprising at first, it does seem like a standard idea, considering this is a car responsible for transporting a world leader. Maybe Russia will even follow in the footsteps of the U.S., who destroys presidential cars after they’re retired — fearing their secrets will be revealed.