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16 Aug, 2007 04:18

Russian drivers celebrate American cars

As the amount of cars on the streets of Moscow continues to grow, a group of Russian drivers are holding on to a very specific type of auto culture. It's synonymous with speed, style, and most of all – America.

A specific group of drivers gather weekly in the centre of Moscow. With U.S. flags waving and the sound of Elvis blasting, these car owners set the stage to celebrate their beloved automobile – the classic American car.

Peter Nekrasov is the co-founder of Freedom Cars, a group that aims to popularise American cars here in Moscow.  The members are proud owners of older models of Chevrolet's, Ford's and Lincoln's – styles typically not seen on Russian roads.

“It's a very good feeling – the feeling of power, the feeling of elegance. You feel separated from other people,” Peter says.

Compared to European cars, American ones are said to have worse mileage and cost much more to repair.  But even those factors don't deter many Russians from investing in a set of American wheels.

Valery Kopchenov  owns 1973 luxury Lincoln Continental Mark IV with its Rolls Royce style grille, and cover headlamps. Valery says his car is a piece of history reminiscent of rock-and-roll and iconic faces.

“It is a comfort, because it is a pleasure and because it is the only car like this in the whole Moscow. I own something no one else has,” he claims.

Proclaiming himself a lifelong American car enthusiast, Kopchenov boasts a collection of five cars including a fourth generation 1994 Ford Mustang and 94 Chevrolet Corvette.

“This club, Freedom Cars, consists of people who are united by their love to American cars. You can always find people who can help you with replacement parts and technical advice,” he explains.

And while they're cared for, these cars are also protected.  Members of Freedom Cars only take their American cruisers out on weekends and special occasions.

The popularity of American cars here in Russia should come at no surprise.  According to the European business association, the sales of foreign cars in Russia increased 70 % this year.  Among the brands, Chevrolet has been named the most popular, selling nearly 200,000 in the past seven months.  The second best selling foreign car is Ford.