This 1957 GAZ-M21V Volga owned by Dimitri and Tim Svhetsov...

This 1957 GAZ-M21V Volga owned by Dimitri and Tim Svhetsov is a Russian original that was bought in the country and shipped here. The owner estimates its value at more than $100,000. Credit: David Fluhrer

THE CAR AND ITS OWNER: 1957 GAZ-M21V Volga sedan owned by Dmitri and Tim Shvetsov

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING: Russia’s giant GAZ plant began churning out cars and trucks in 1932 and it was 24 years later when the company launched the modern GAZ-21 Volga, the first such car to carry the name of the Russian river. Emulating the design of America’s Ford Customline, the GAZ sedan, according to collector and comedian Jay Leno, was so coveted that Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was presented with one when he returned from his historic 1961 space ride. “In those days,” says Leno, “if you owned a Volga or you were assigned one because of your job or political status, it was proof you'd made it in Soviet society.” Dmitri Shvetsov says his car is an early first-series version known as “Zvezda” (“the Star”), because of the characteristic emblem in the grill. He says he believes his ride is the only first-series M21 model on the road in America today.

HOW LONG THEY’VE OWNED IT: Shvetsov and son, Tim, have owned the GAZ since 2013.

WHERE THEY FOUND IT: They bought it in Russia and had it shipped to the U.S. The car replaced their 1962 GAZ that had been flood-damaged in Hurricane Sandy and later sold.

CONDITION: For its first 50 years, the sedan was used primarily by a Moscow-area military plant director not far from Shvetsov’s boyhood home. “It was the subject of a five-year-long, professional ground-up restoration in Russia and it arrived in America on November 16, 2013,” he says. “My car was truly restored and assembled by hand, with meticulous attention to each detail. Every attempt was made to use the original USSR-made parts, and the assembly was performed to the factory specifications. Prior to being shipped to the USA, the vehicle participated in three European car shows. All the work completed in the past five years gives me the confidence to say that this car is one of the most perfectly restored first-series Volga cars in Russia, and, without a doubt, the best Volga in America.”

TIPS FOR OWNERS: “Look for unusual makes and models,” he advises. “Unique cars are so much fun.”

VALUE: Shvetsov estimates the value at “close to $100,000.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: “It’s a known fact that the GAZ-21 Volga was created under the influence of American automotive design trends,” he says, “so, in some way, the car made a journey to its roots.” Shvetsov publishes a website on his Volga ownership at

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