All these Guilty Pleasures cars, but which one am I actively pursuing for my own fleet right now? Yes, the Ukrainian-built, Brezhnev-era ZAZ-968, aka "The Soviet Corvair." I've got some shady connections in the former Soviet Union (i.e., 24 Hours of LeMons racers) who plan to ship a container-load of ZAZ-968s to our shores, and— barring Kafka-esque nightmares with US Customs— one of those 41-horsepower, air-cooled machines will have my name on it.

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Guilty Pleasure ZAZ-968

According to The Cars of the Soviet Union, the Zaporozhets' design was heavily influenced by that of the Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle, with air-cooled/rear-mounted engine, stamped steel chassis pan, and other Beetle-ish features. However, to facilitate the all-too-frequent valve adjustments required by clattery-ass air-cooled engines, particularly when so many Soviet citizens would be forced to wrench on their rides in a dirt-floored "garage" in Siberia or Turkmenistan, the ZAZ engineers decided to make their car's engine a V4 instead of a boxer four. The Zaporozhets was the first real "people's car" of the USSR, the only car that ordinary citizens might hope to own (after sitting on a waiting list for many years, of course), and it was a simple, reliable (by Soviet standards) machine, tolerant of rough roads and indifferent maintenance. Historical significance aside, no North American in his or her right mind should want one of these things... but I must have one!

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