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Volga M21 (1956 - 1970)

Last updated 30 August 2013

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The Volga M21 was launched in 1956 as a successor to the popular M20 Pobeba model, and in true Russian style an all-new body design clothed familiar mechanicals. Also known as the GAZ M21 Volga, it was considered by many to be the first Soviet car to compare favourably with Western standards of technology and build quality. Under the skin, many of the parts were carried over from the M20, whose componentry had been proven to be extremely reliable in service. The first cars, which became known retrospectively as the Series 1, used the M20 side-valve engine enlarged to 2432cc.

By 1957, an all-new 2445cc overhead valve powerplant had been developed, and this was installed in the Series 2 M21 the following year. Despite being called the Series 2, changes were actually very minor, with cosmetic alterations to the grille and dashboard. The major addition to the range came in 1962, when the estate version was rolled-out – although it was called the M22 and treated as an entirely new model by Volga. Further trim changes in 1962 resulted in the Series 3 model being introduced – but after that the range remained unchanged until it was phased out in 1971.