GAZ 24 Volga 1983 Lowrider

As is known from Soviet folklore, “God drives a Lada, and God’s director drives a Volga”. But what if the director completely let loose, watched American projects and decided to adapt the Soviet muscle car in the style of lowriders?

First, let’s understand who lowriders are? This movement, as one of the directions of custom culture in the USA, originated in the late 1930s in Los Angeles. The founders were young guys, immigrants from Latin America, living in ghettos, riding the streets in cheap cars and gradually becoming disillusioned with the American dream. They pathologically wanted to stand out, show off, forgive the expression, in front of each other, and there was no other way than tuning their vehicles. For some reason, it became cool to lower their cars, initially only the rear or only the front part. Those who cared about their cars and did not want to do it irreversibly put bags of sand in the trunk; others simply cut the springs. Essentially, lowride is low riding. Parallel to this, cars were equipped with a bunch of additional lights, and garlands of chains were hung on mirrors – all for the attention of bystanders and friends. In other words, what is called in modern Russia by the capacious word “kolhoz”.

But they were caught up by the overseas analog of 12.5.1 of the Traffic Code – in 1959, a law was passed prohibiting radical lowering, where the threshold was below the rim of the wheel disc. Considering that low-profile tires simply did not exist at that time, the guys had a hard time, especially since many followers of this culture were in street gangs and were initially in bad standing with the police.

But any limitation acts as a push for engineering thought. Brothers Luis and Ron Aguirre thought about how great it would be if the suspension could change its height, quickly and with a click from the cabin. Like, for example, partially done by airplanes… For this purpose, they dismantled a decommissioned B-52 bomber, from which the so-called hydraulic suspension was removed. In fact, it was very similar to modern pneumatic suspensions, only instead of air for inflating the cushions, fluid was used. The idea of the brothers appealed to the local audience and soon hydraulic suspensions began to be professionally installed in many studios. Over time, the hydraulic suspension largely gave way to pneumatic suspension due to cost and comfort.

Simultaneously with this, the culture of lowriding involves brightly painting cars with various patterns and ornaments with elements of pinstriping – a type of ornament application with long lines, characteristic of the custom culture of those years. The car must also necessarily have something chromed, and even better coated with a thin layer of gold – let’s not forget, the guys who invented lowriding aspired to a beautiful life, an indispensable attribute of which, in their opinion, was an abundance of gold.

Spoked wheels were used for classic lowriders, but at that time it was explained not by style, but simply by their cost. With the appearance of stamped wheels on new cars, the automotive industry massively switched from 16-inch wheels, made with spokes, to 15-inch wheels. 16″ became cheaper but looked much more stylish, which was just right for classic bodies.

It’s worth noting that for low riding the motor was never important – at most, it could be polished to shine, but overall, driving fast on a low car was quite a dubious pleasure.

But how is the culture of Latin gangs and Soviet GAZ connected? At the end of the 50s, the management of GAZ realized that the Volga 21, although it was quite modern at the time of its release, was hopelessly outdated. It was necessary to come up with a new car, capable, so to speak, of supporting the image of the “Soviet country”.

The design of the new car was simultaneously worked on by two groups of designers: Lev Eremeev and Leonid Tsikolenko. Based on their sketches, from 1962 to 1964, 6 prototypes (3 for each group) were designed, which were evaluated according to various criteria, including aerodynamics. On January 10, 1964, Tsikolenko’s version was adopted. But there was no possibility of immediately putting the car into series: the new car required a new technological process and modernization of production. By 1967, when all the problems were settled and the patents were registered, the plant was put “on military rails” and engaged in the production of equipment for the army, so the first batches of new Volgas were small-scale. Soon, the production of the new car was finally established.

Yes, the cars were originally designed in close, ahem, connection with their American counterparts. It’s no secret that the GAZ-24 closely resembles the mid-sized American sedans of those years, and even the technical equipment could be similar: a V6 with an automatic transmission for the masses, a V8 with an automatic transmission for the KGB, and an inline four-cylinder engine for taxis. Possibly, a limited batch of diesel cars for export. But in reality, no V6 ever appeared on them – they didn’t make it to the first series, and by the time of the restyling (a word that doesn’t quite fit the Volga) the oil crisis started and they just didn’t bother. So we were left with inline 4-cylinder cars with rare, almost mythical versions of V8 for the needs of special services.

The Volga 24 received a rich chrome finish, which fit perfectly into the concept of lowriding. Years have passed since the USSR, and although the car in good condition now costs not so little, it is still perfect for the culture of “low riding” and is cheaper than American counterparts. In Russia, an entire movement of lowriders on Volgas – “Bojars” has appeared. Guys have learned how to properly lower these cars, properly install pneumatic suspension in them and of course find the right wheels for them. By the way, the bolt pattern of GAZ-24 allows you to install some American wheels even without transitional adapters.

In front of you in the photo is the 2nd series GAZ-24, already somewhat reworked and modernized. Few will understand the difference, but the main thing – the abundance of chrome is still present. By the way, here it’s all replaced with new – while such an option is still available. The main part of the appearance is, of course, unique airbrushing. This is exactly how a real lowrider’s car should look! The style is complemented by Wire Wheels 14″x6J reverse with an offset of -48, shod in Nankang White Wall 155/65 tires. Matiz parameters? Perhaps, but the look is ideal, which is what the essence of lowriding boils down to.

This Volga, of course, is on pneumatic suspension. Unlike modern cars, you can’t just take and install a solution from the store. And if only work with the cups is required in front for maximum lowering, then in the back it was necessary to abandon the leaf spring suspension and replace it with pneumatic cushions and a 4-link system. We have already written about the full specification of this solution, so if you want to refresh your memory – look here. And we hope that such projects in Russia will continue to live and delight us at exhibitions!