One of the many reasons we love Jay Leno's Garage is the depth of the comedian's collection and his appreciation for the unappreciated. Most men of his financial and social standing with even a passing interest in automobiles would occupy their driveways with six- and seven-figure high performance and luxury cars – they wouldn't even know what something like this 1966 Volga GAZ-21 is, let alone offer it a spot in their garage mahal.

Yet here is Leno, poring over this ex-KGB staff car in detail and trying on his best labored Russian accent, genuinely fascinated by this small sedan. With a three-on-the-tree, primitive leaf-spring suspension and 95 horsepower from its 2.5-liter four-cylinder, this unrestored sedan – still riding on made-in-USSR tires – doesn't sound terribly exciting on paper, but Jay does a good job of outlining its features and putting it into historical context. He even tells a brief-but-amusing yarn about driving the car through Russian immigrant neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. Learn more about this Cold War curiosity by scrolling below to watch the video.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 47 Comments
      Yeah yeah
      • 1 Year Ago
      He said the leaf springs were like something from the 1930s, but didn't most American cars have leaf springs well into the 70s? I know my 1977 Dodge Monaco had leaf springs in the rear. I well remember those springs going through the rusted out frame into the trunk! (That 225 cid straight 6 still was running great when the rust did it in though)
        A P
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Yeah yeah
        Most midsize and up American cars (exept MOPAR) had coils from the early 70s on had coils.
        dukeisduke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Yeah yeah
        GM's full-size cars went to "full coil suspension" in 1958 (except for some station wagons), and Ford and Mercury starting with the '65 models. Mopars stayed with leafs until the end of their RWD sedans (Aspen/Volare/Diplomat/Fury/Imperial).
        crshcrstr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Yeah yeah
        ...yeah, I think even some modern trucks still use them, don't they?
      Alexei Chachkov
      • 1 Year Ago
      This car was a true star. What for Jay is just a strange "small" car from bygone era, for Russians is an icon of that time. It starred in many movies. Watch a piece from this timeless soviet cinema classic. http://youtu.be/tkQcEZeRzVk
        The Calligrapher
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alexei Chachkov
        BTW, the actor playing the policeman on a bike is Georgiy Zhzhonov. He was also in "Planet of Thunders" - in the Soviet movie that inspired the whole modern space-SciFi imagery. The movie as shown in USA with Soviet actors given fake "American" names. Georgiy Zhzhonov was credited as "Kurt Boden". So that guy on motorcycle is your "Kurt Boden", fellas!
      superchan7
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm amazed that this car even has 95 hp.
      r9709
      • 1 Year Ago
      I lived in the UK during the 1960's and they were sold there in with right hand drive.
      Val Power
      • 1 Year Ago
      The KGB version had a 5.52 L V8 (probably form a truck) and were black
      k.naz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Man do I remember these from my childhood. Had to be the smoothest ride I've ever sat in from the Soviet era. These cars still hold up pretty well today despite their age and remains one of my dream classics to own :)
      Dezeinstein
      • 1 Year Ago
      in Soviet Russia, denim wears YOU!
        SquareFour
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dezeinstein
        Oh c'mon! Who downvoted that? It may be a hackneyed and tired gag, but it was used awesomely here.
      The Calligrapher
      • 1 Year Ago
      "He even tells a brief-but-amusing yarn about driving the car through Russian immigrant neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area." Russian immigrant neighborhoods? Huh? There are, like, 500-600 Russians in the entire USA, and they typically live far apart from each other, not forming any communities. What "Russian immigrant neighborhoods" is he talking about?
        Myself
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Calligrapher
        Dude, there are some 3 million Russians living in the US! 600 is about what you find in a tennis school in Florida :-) If you're an American, you don't know much about your country, do you...
          sniperhunter2001
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Myself
          He's clearly never been to Brooklyn, Staten Island or Queens, NY. Or Glendale, California. Or Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Hahaha
        Niels Marienlund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Calligrapher
        500-600? That's how many Russian live in a single block in western San Francisco.
          Quen
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Niels Marienlund
          Indeed Niels. I live in the Inner Richmond (San Francisco) and I'm just around the corner from a large Russian (and Ukrainian/Georgian) neighborhood. There are easily a few thousand Russians in this neighborhood alone.
        The Calligrapher
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Calligrapher
        I see that another genius use "Brooklyn" as an example of "Russian" community. Facepalm... Brooklyn in general and Brighton Beach specifically are the quintessential examples of the most famous 120% Jewish community in the world. Not a single Russian there.
          anon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @The Calligrapher
          If you by Russian you mean a person with russian last name, speaking russian language, eating and preparing russian food, calling themselves russian, being of russian orthodox religion, etc., yea I know a few people like that.
          The Calligrapher
          • 1 Year Ago
          @The Calligrapher
          @anon: Huh? What Russian last names are you talking of???? Schnaiderman? Goldberg? Give me an exampe of a person with Russian last name in Brighton Beach. Better yet, pick up a "Russian" newspaper in Brighton Beach and give me a list of names from the ads (of which each has are plenty). SHow me a Russian last name there. Russian orthodox religion? What is that? You mean Orthodox Christianity? Well, where are the churches then? (Yes, I know some, but the numbers just support what I said.) And even if some of them might call themselves "Russian", they only do it to play along with the simplistic concepts you have had uploaded into your head by the US regime. Nobody is going to try to clean out that garbage in a casual conversation, as you probably understand.
        The Calligrapher
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Calligrapher
        LOLWHAT!? What an idiot fest... "Homo americanus", as they say. The products of brainwashing by the US regime. I repeat: there are about 500-600 Russians in USA, and they don't live in "communities". You simply have some rather wll-researched garbage in your head. What you have been told to perceive as "Russian communities" by American propaganda is actually purely _Jewish_ communities. During the Cold War US regime decided that it would be nice to brag about Russians immigrating to USA - as you know, it has always been a cornerstone of the US propaganda. Since they couldn't get any actual Russians to immigrate, they started importing Jews, Jewws and only Jews from Eastern Europe, and then parading them in front of TV cameras as "Russians immigrating into USA". This is what's known in the world as "kielbasa immigrants". As the result of this here and now, in this forum we observe the hordes of the brainwashed lemmings (aka "homo americanus") telling us stories about "Russian communities". Find me a single Russian in these communities and I will eat my computer, part by part, without a sip of water. US regime has always been crawling the streets of Russian cities on its knees, _begging_ each and every Russian it can find to come over to USA. Very few agree. Every time one Russian agrees to come over to USA, even temporarily, it is an event of planetary scale. US stock market rallies 10-20% on such news. And you are telling me there are "millions of Russians" in USA? Facepalm...
          crshcrstr
          • 1 Year Ago
          @The Calligrapher
          There's more than 500 russians in Blaine, MN, near where I live, which is definitely not the biggest community of them in the USA. I didn't hear that from the US, I heard it from them. You are a fool. What's more, you're assuming that Jewish Russians wouldn't be considered Russian, which makes you a bigot as well as a fool.
          The Calligrapher
          • 1 Year Ago
          @The Calligrapher
          @crshcrstr: False. None of these people were Russians. And even if they referred to themselves as such, it is just out of pure politeness towards you. You're an American. You don't know anything, and you cannot be educated and your head is uploaded with loads of propaganda garbage. So they simply played along with the bizarre idiosyncrasies your head is full of.
      1STH
      • 1 Year Ago
      Jay Leno is a superficial enthusiast...his LACK of depth is what annoys me the most. He seems like he just reads about these cars in magazines...and then tells a 'finder' to go and get him one......weak.
        riserburn99andre
        • 1 Year Ago
        @1STH
        STFU, you have never seen him explain the Duesenburg brake setup have you? He knows more about the general scope of vehicles rather than a specific car or plants. I have met the man and it was a blast talking to him about anything cars. He does love his Duesys though
          1STH
          • 1 Year Ago
          @riserburn99andre
          you must be just as superficial as he is. Jay Leno is a hollywood flake...nothing more, nothing less.
      The Calligrapher
      • 1 Year Ago
      An exceptionally beautiful car, which defined the entire era in the world's car history. As usual with such timeless designs, it is hard to put a finger on what makes it so beautiful. It is interesting to note that when Americans began to copy the styling of this Volga, they managed to add some imbecilic accents to their cars' designs. Again, hard to put a finger on it, but they just didn't look right. This one is a pure unblemished original beauty though.
      gtv4rudy
      • 1 Year Ago
      A 1966 Soviet era car with a 90 hp 4 banger isn't that bad at all. ... a 2013 VW Golf 2.0 liter still has 115 hp!
        crshcrstr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gtv4rudy
        ...I don't think they make that 2.0 any more. They added another cylinder and now its a 2.5 with around 150-160. somewhere in that range. But you certainly could have said a 2004. Then you wouldn't have looked stupid.
      sniperhunter2001
      • 1 Year Ago
      My dad had a Moskvitch. And his co-worker had a Volga Gaz-24. Zhigulis were also extremely common, but terrible cars.
        k.naz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        Likewise, but I also loved the M13 Chaika. It was a beautiful limo to ride around town with.
          k.naz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @k.naz
          It's 2013 and AB still doesn't have an edit button ¬_¬
          sniperhunter2001
          • 1 Year Ago
          @k.naz
          Chaika's were incredibly gorgeous. They had one featured on Top Gear years ago. Haha
        Myself
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sniperhunter2001
        Our Zhiguli lasted 20 years and did 300 thousand km :-) Way better than Moskvitch!
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