The Volvo fit for a dictator


When Germany was cleaved in two in 1949, the apparatchiks of the newly shaped Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR, aka East Germany) may possibly have forgotten a person little element. It didn’t have a motor vehicle marketplace.

Absolutely sure, VEB Sachsenring started churning out the loveable little plastic-bodied Trabants in their droves from 1957. And certainly, VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach revived the regrettable Wartburg name in 1956, bringing back again the frumpy 311.

But neither have been definitely suitable for senior occasion officers who in its place ferried by themselves about in the Horch P240, crafted by VEB Kraftfahrzeugwer Horch Zwickau. It was barely the luxurious saloon govt counterparts in democratic countries liked.

But, communism is a amusing factor (lolz) and in the spirit of ‘democratic’ cooperation, in 1959, pursuing a Comecon (Council for Mutual Financial Assistance) edict, only Czechoslovakia was permitted to make and provide what were considered ‘luxury’ automobiles for Eastern Bloc regimes.

That remaining East German politburo significant flyers to glide all-around in the Tatra 603, a rear-motor V8 and kinda amazing luxurious sedan with a heritage cloaked in secrecy and rebel. What’s not to like? (you can go through about it here).

And for a whilst it served greater-rating East German officers admirably, especially as their reduced-rated comrades had to slum it in the much much less-spectacular Russian-built Volga.

By the early 1970s, the Tatra 603 was no lengthier the luxury car it had when been, regardless of 3 updates that did small to essentially update the car other than some cosmetic variations.

What to do then? The West German powerhouses of BMW and Mercedes-Benz were out philosophically, even though the Russian Volgas ended up about as desirable as a stint in a Siberian gulag.

Something had to be carried out. Right after all, the elite of the social gathering couldn’t be observed driving around in the exact plastic Trabbis as the proletariat.

The option, when it came, was as surprising for the Staatsrat (State Council) and the  Ministerrat (the Council of Ministers) as it was for Swedish automobile maker Volvo.

Sweden, of training course, was neutral, and that built it an appealing lover for the East German federal government. And Swedish motor vehicle maker Volvo experienced, in its line-up, a Bertone-intended limousine variation of its hugely well-liked 200 Collection sedan.

Formally identified as the Volvo 264 TE by Bertone, the stretched model was, according to Volvo alone, “… the 1st of the specific iterations of the 260 collection. Aimed at governments, consular staff members, foremost corporations and other VIPs, the 5.6-metre TE limousine was 70cm for a longer period than a 264 GLE sedan – accommodating up to six travellers (in addition to the driver) via foldable second-row seats. ‘Exclusive elegance’ was presented by plush upholstery, deep-pile carpeting, air-conditioning, electrical home windows, and adjustable rear-seat studying lamps.”

Powering the 264 TE (for Prime Executive) was the slightly underwhelming 2.9-litre V6 (PRV6), jointly designed by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo. Creation particulars continue being sketchy, but it’s considered all around 300 of the 5.6-metre lengthy limo (pretty much a metre for a longer time than the normal 200 Collection which calculated 4780mm lengthy) were produced. But the executives and VIPs of Europe trapped with their Mercs and Volvo’s hoped-for buyer-foundation didn’t eventuate.

But, the Swedes uncovered a lifeline for its luxo-barge in the DDR, the socialist condition snapping up nearly the full generation run for use by senior users of the Staatsrat and the Ministerrat. Even DDR honcho, Chairman Erich Honecker, savored currently being ferried around in his stretch Volvo, even though reportedly his favorite car or truck was a stretched version of the Citroen CX.

Coincidentally, or probably not, the CX also liked the Swedish contact, the coachwork performed by a company named Nilsson which crafted several of the elongated and stylish Frenchy for Honecker.

But when the Citroen was made use of almost solely by the DDR chief, this kind of was the prevalence of the stretch Volvo on the streets of Berlin that the suburb of Wandlitz, the upmarket enclave of senior social gathering apparatchiks, became regarded – relatively contemptuously – as Volvograd. Who mentioned Germans really don’t have a perception of humour?

Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for above 20 decades, masking both motorsport and the vehicle market. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 immediately after a extensive career at Australian Consolidated Push. Rob addresses automotive information and vehicle critiques though also writing in-depth element articles or blog posts on traditionally considerable cars and trucks and automobile companies. He also enjoys discovering obscure products and researching their genesis and background.

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