Limousines of 20th century heads of state are not often auctioned off, as these cars tend to be on display in museums or still belong to government garages. A few are certainly in private collections, usually those with their own buildings and a technician on staff, making rare appearances at concours events.
In a few weeks, however, collectors will have the chance to bid on a very rare state limo when Artcurial offers a 1967 ZiL 114 at its 2022 Retromobile auction.
Haven’t seen one? The ZiL 114, produced by Zavod Imeni Likhacheva, or the Likhachev Automobile Plant in Moscow, was built from 1967 to 1978, taking over from the aging ZiL 111 limousines of the 1950s. The six-seater 114 limousine adopted more conservative lines from its predecessors, as well as a seven-seat layout with two jump seats that fold into the B-pillar bulkhead when not in use. A 7.0-liter V8 engine sat under the hood, good for around 300 hp and paired with two- or three-speed automatic transmissions, depending on the year.
The long limo – it set at least a few size records at the time – was hand-built in small numbers, much like its predecessors, with the ZiL factory producing only dozens of these cars each year. Even the body panels were not stamped but rather hammered by panel beaters onto wooden males, so the process was both laborious and time-consuming.
The main customer for these cars was GON—Garazh Osobogo Naznacheniya, or Special Purpose Garage – which served the Soviet leadership, with relatively few senior officials receiving ZiL limos. Back when they were new, only top-level leaders received ZiL 114 limousines – General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and other Politburo members among them – as well as the heads of the 15 Soviet republics and a number of other political leaders, with lower ranks. officials using GAZ 12 ZiM, GAZ 13 Chaikas and GAZ 24 Volgas. Since production numbers were so low, most of these limos were maintained by government garages and were guarded at all times. The 114 remained in service beyond the end of production in the late 1970s, but took on a secondary role after the arrival of the 115 limo family in the late 1970s, Brezhnev and others high-profile personalities moving to the next-generation model. The 114 also gave birth to the shorter 117 saloon, of which just 50 were produced with a small number of 117 convertibles, as well as a number of ambulance versions.
As for this model, about 113 copies were produced in just over a decade.
The car that Artcurial will offer in March is a model from the beginning of 1967, and would have belonged to the “president of the Republic of Mongolia”, according to the auction house. The ZiL was in the Heads of State Car Museum until 2004 and is said to have had the license plate УБ0001, which designates the capital Ulaanbaatar.
If the provenance is genuine, this could make it one of the few ZiL 114s given by Soviet leaders to foreign leaders, in this case Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal, who served as chairman of the Mongolian Council of Ministers from 1952 to 1974, holding the post of Chairman of the Presidium of the Great People’s Khural from 1974 to 1984. Prior to assuming the post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Tsedenbal was the General Secretary of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, serving in that post from 1940 to 1954, then from 1958 to 1984.
The auction description states that the car was used by the “president” of the country, which at no time was Tsendebal’s official title, but it seems clear that the ZiL with such a plate could have been used by Tsedenbal at that time.
Despite these differing titles, Tsedenbal was effectively head of state from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, when illness forced him to move to Moscow for medical treatment. His reign overlapped the entire Brezhnev era, in fact eclipsing Brezhnev’s time at the helm, during which relations between the USSR and Mongolia were also closest. Tsedenbal died in Moscow in the spring of 1991.
It is believed that there were at least of them ZiL 114s in the government garage in the capital Ulaanbaatar during those years, as two are visible in some vintage images during state visits. During these decades, Mongolia had very close relations with the Soviet Union, and the vast majority of cars in the country were also Soviet, with government leaders using various sedans and limousines produced by ZiS, GAZ and ZiL.
It is highly likely that Tsedenbal owned at least two ZiL 114s which he used interchangeably, in addition to other cars like the old GAZ 13 Chaikas, which were perhaps the most numerous among V8-powered Soviet cars in Ulan. -Bator during those years. As with other heads of state cars, there was never really just one example of anything, and leaders tended to use a wide variety of other vehicles as well. Thus, the ZiL might have been one of the more formal cars deployed on special events and state visits, while top executives, including Tsedenbal, used more modest sedans on a daily basis.
The auction house reports that this ZiL was repainted at some point, which is not uncommon with cars of this age, with the sills also showing the beginnings of corrosion.
“The plush interior, draped in fabric for the rear compartment and leather for the driving position, is in good condition. In the rear, the space and equipment are generous and worthy of a head of state, while the pennant holders on the front fenders immediately offer official parades,” adds the auction house.
The car would have been in running order in 2004 when it was purchased from the museum, but hasn’t run for about 15 years after its gearbox developed some sort of problem and possibly became inoperable. As such, the car will require recommissioning work.
The auction house estimates that this ZiL will fetch between €40,000 and €60,000, or between $46,000 and $67,700.
The market for ZiL limousines, as you might have guessed, exists largely in Eastern Europe, with a number of workshops specializing in the restoration and maintenance of former government vehicles. This ZiL’s estimate range is quite realistic and perhaps a little light, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it find its way back to Moscow where there is a collector’s market for ZiL limos.
Even so, there are a handful of ZiL limos in the States, including a mid-1980s 41045 that appeared at the Greenwich Concours in 2015, and an early 4104 (also part of the 115 family, which followed the 114) on the West Coast. .
Visit the auction site to consult the complete list of lots for the next Retromobile sale in Paris.
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