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Putin to Build Fleet of State Super-Vehicles

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On: Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 12:57PM | By: Bill Wilson


Putin to Build Fleet of State Super-Vehicles

Being the head of Russia’s government has its perks, even in these post-Soviet days.  As proof, President Vladimir Putin is pushing ahead with plans for a fleet of custom-built vehicles that would turn even the wealthiest dot-com billionaires green with envy.  Dubbed “Project Cortege,” the initiative formally started in 2011, after earlier efforts were put on hold due to economic and financial issues.

The flagship of the motorcade will be a stretch limo built by Porsche Engineering, with the help of dozens of lesser contractors. Powered by a massive V12 intercooled engine, the rolling fortress will include all-wheel drive and tank-like armoring in the frame. Passengers will have access to an arsenal of weapons should the vehicle come under attack, but details on such James Bond-like features are closed guarded secrets. Additional autos to be built under Project Cortege include an SUV and an MPV, both of which will be heavily modified to offer premium levels of comfort and security.

In most cases, building customized vehicles for the ultra-rich means contacting any of a number of firms that specialize in the heavy-duty reengineering needed for such a project. But President Putin has already declared that the Project Cortege vehicles will be assembled in Russia, albeit with significant amounts of support from foreign sources.

This will mean developing a complex of manufacturing facilities within the nation itself solely to complete the task. State officials have announced that construction of the necessary infrastructure is set to begin in 2017, though this date could be pushed back due to Russia’s uncertain economic future and ongoing tensions with the West.

This is not the first time that politics have played a role in how Russians get from point A to point B. During the Cold War era, Communist party bosses went back and forth between buying western vehicles and building their own. Soviet autos ranged from closely copied versions of Mercedes Benz luxury cars to peculiar contraptions like the Trabant 601, which ran on a rackety two-cylinder engine and spent more time in the shop than on the road. No wonder most Soviets rode the subway or simply walked.

This is not to say that comrades couldn’t build a road-worthy vehicle; far from it. While their passenger cars were nothing to write home about, the heirs of Lenin and Stalin turned out some seriously rugged trucks and SUVs. One, which is still built today, is constructed by the Moscow-based Lada motor company. Dubbed the Niva, it’s beloved by folks who live in the world’s polar regions, due to its ability to go virtually anywhere. Plus, the interior is highly stain resistant, since it’s made entirely of heavy rubber. The Niva’s seats can be cleaned simply by opening a door and blasting the inside of the car with a garden hose. Models are available in both the UK and US from specialty importers.

No one is worried that Putin and his entourage will be riding around on rubber seats or worrying about breakdowns, however. Even in 21st century Russia, those with wealth and power enjoy a better ride through life than most of us. In that sense, both Communists and Capitalists are more alike than either would probably care to admit. Karl Marx is likely rolling over in his grave.


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