Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beat on the Street: Peasant Edition

Driving a beater inevitably involves some form of hardship. If you're fortunate it, your strife may just be a lack of air conditioning or some distant rattling noise. If you drive a Zaporozhets, you can expect more excitement pain in your morning commute.

In the eyes of several Russians I met, the Zaporozhets is barely a car. It is considered the lowest form of vehicular transportation and I only received puzzled stares when I asked to see one. On some level, how high a car scores on the 'beater' scale is directly proportional to how difficult it is keep running, multiplied by how awful it is to drive. The Zaporozhets has near perfect scores on both fronts.

Allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush. Take a VW beetle with less horsepower, but keep the heater performance. Replace German engineering and build quality with Soviet engineering for a car built in Ukraine (who at times, weren't fond of their Russian overseers). Remove cute beetle styling and you have perhaps the worlds greatest beater.

The air-cooled V-4 motor sits outback. The "ears" on the air inlets denote a pre-1979 car which are becoming more and more scarce. This car sports some aggressive rear tires, helpful on Russian dirt roads that are rarely maintained. When in St. Peterburg do not miss Vladimir Putin's 1972 Zaporozhets which has been lovingly restored and placed on display. Although BeaterBlog can't confirm he rode in his cars shirtless (like his rides his horses) we can dream.

To my great surprise, Russian circle track racing is shockingly like American circle track except the beer is replaced with vodka and the cops don't break up the fights. These five Zaporozhets (and one Volga) were set up for the stunt show and jumped via flying Lada.

Zaporozhets are often the victim of roll-over contests and fire works displays. Rumors of a Spec-Zaporozhets rally series could not be confirmed, but this car was seriously prepped for something and racing anything but other Zaporozhets certainly resulted in failure.

BeaterBlog is optimistic an inter-cultural demolition derby and stunt show can be arranged at some future date. We hope to finally settle the Lada vs. Chevy Cavalier grudge match to determine crappiest small sedan of all time.

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