Fun story about Zils.

In a subtle sign of defiance after his cortege was criticised for blocking Moscow traffic on his twice-daily ride to the Kremlin, Mr Putin will ride in the ultimate symbol of Russian power.

\”Limo Number One\”, as the vehicle has been dubbed, was especially made for the head of state and took six years to complete. The six-door ZiL 4112R has a huge 7.7 litre engine, calf-leather upholstery and a video screen to show passengers the road ahead even when shutters are drawn over the windows. It weighs 3.5 tonnes, has a top speed of 125mph and covers about 18 miles per gallon of fuel.

I wouldn\’t want to swear to the truth of this story (I think I first saw it in PJ O\’Rourke, make of that what you will).

To make a car body you need, umm don\’t know the technical word, a mould. A form if you like, which the machine then stamps the sheet steel into the right shape over. This is what makes the body, the bonnet, the roof, etc.

The Zil is actually built using the old Chrysler Imperial forms (err, molds?) from the 1950s. Back then the US body shape changed every year: so new molds every year. The Russians bought one set one year and have been using it ever since.

Obviously, such molds wear over time. It\’s said that you can tell how old or new one is by looking at the crispness of the folds and tucks in the body shape. The cleaner they are the older the car. For the wear and tear of use over the decades has led to blurring of said molds.

Too fun a story to be actually checked of course.

12 thoughts on “Fun story about Zils.”

  1. I got held up in traffic once due to an intergovernmental meeting whilst taking my wife to hospital.

    Why can’t the bastards use helicopters.

  2. You’re story’s possible Tim, but not necessarily true. Moulds (don’t you get mold on cheese in English English?) are used for mass production. A skilled metal worker can make a set of car panels from scratch just with sheet steel & the appropriate machinery. (once had the pleasure of helping one make a new set of wings for an Armstrong Lot of old cars couldn’t be pressed anyway. The introduction of the press & its limitations was one of the driving factors of car design.) Putin’s runabout was likely hand made. Hence the 6 years.
    Bloody clever to get 18 mpg out of it though. Wish I could match that in my Voyager in Central London.

  3. Incidentally, went down the coast, to Iceland for some shopping, a few weeks ago & the rather odd looking beast parked outside had a 27 lt Merlin engine under the bonnet. Back end seemed slightly reminiscent of a Reliant Scimitar, so presume that was the donor for some of the body panels & lights.

    That’s some serious horsepower.

    And here is that car:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxMxFE37Sxw&feature=related

  4. @bloke in spain – better still is Lucky Keiser, an Aussie outback mechanic (the kind of bloke who can fix pretty much anything with a minimal toolkit) who found a number of Mosquito fighter bombers abandoned in a field in the Outback. So he too one of the V12 27-litre Merlin engines, sliced the end two cylinders off and shoe-horned the resultant 5-litre V-twin into a motorcycle frame. And then added a supercharger. And nitrous oxide injection.

    http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2006/05/20/5000cc-v-twin-motorcycle-engine-for-sale/

  5. Oh, if we’re talking cars, had the pleasure of riding in a Lotus 7 had a Rover V8 shoehorned in along with twin turbos. We actually went to St Moritz*, for the evening. From Essex.

    *Lotus 7 Club piss-up. Don’t ask.

    Tim adds: Quite common: plenty of Westfields etc out there with the V 8. One for sale in Alicante right now.

    Then there’s also the bike engined versions. 1100 cc or 990 cc big bike engines in them. Top out quite low but 0-60 in 3 secs say? One of those for sale in Alicante right now too. If only I had a spare €8k…….

  6. Yeah, I believe Harry’s was the first. Would have been early 80’s. One of the mags track tested it & got a 3.5. And that was with a missfire at high revs. (They we’re quite enthusiastic about his 2lt ’63 Mini everyday car as well.)
    Certainly was the only car I’ve ever seen have wheelspin accelerating from a hundred.

  7. bloke in spain

    ….Bloody clever to get 18 mpg out of it though. Wish I could match that in my Voyager in Central London….

    You could if you never had to stop or slow down.

  8. A nice engine, the Rover V8. I remarked somewhere that Rover had re-engineered it from the GM original. Americans jumped in, denying that it was remotely possible that furrin engineers could improve an American design.

  9. dearime: I read it was modelled on a Buick engine. Also, the Detroit method of manufacturing created banana-shaped cylinder heads which were then machined flat, so the compression ratio varied from inner to outer cylinders. Rover’s methods were somewhat more refined. I once owned a SD1 for a while – lovely car. Pity about the fuel consumption!

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