Tupolev 007: Attention, cosmonauts - Your ride's here

Tupolev 007 aerosled at the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance- Click above for high res gallery

We'll provide a full recap of the 2010 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance later, but this morning, we wanted to share one of the cooler vehicles on display with you - and while it has gullwing doors and is as exotic as it gets, it's not even a car. While Cold War-era American astronauts were fished out of the drink by the U.S. Navy after splashdown, Soviet cosmonauts at the time faced a different set of risks when their spacecraft returned to Earth - namely, the possibility of landing in the Siberian wilderness. As such, a recovery vehicle was needed that could traverse varied terrain, operate in sub-zero temperatures, and move fast. Enter Russian aviation legend Aleksei Tupolev. His solution is seen here: the Tupolev 007 aerosled.

The shallow-draft craft is powered by a 9-cylinder Vedenyev M14P radial aircraft engine generating 365 horsepower. Its interesting double-propeller is actually fixed, with the rear prop drafting the front blades to increase efficiency and make operation quieter. At speeds above 50 mph, the driver can engage a flap to lift the nose, allowing the 007 to skim the surface, meaning it can race across lakes, marshes, and snow with equal aplomb. The design reportedly won Tupolev the Diploma of Finest Engineer in the USSR (give the Soviets this: they had a flair for super-impressive-sounding awards), and you can go see it yourself if you're within easy travel distance of Greenwich, CT.

Day 2 of the 15th Annual Greenwich Concours d'Elegance runs today from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT, with foreign cars the featured element. Admission at the door is $25 (proceeds help benefit AmeriCares), and believe us, it's money well spent. We'll be there later today as well, and you can follow our tweets from the show by searching on the hashtag #GCDE.

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Photos by Alex Nunez / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Additional info on the Tupolev aerosled sourced from Gizmag, Hemmings Motor News.

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