In a subtle sign of defiance after his cortege was criticised for blocking Moscow traffic on his twice-daily ride to the Kremlin, Mr Putin will ride in the ultimate symbol of Russian power.
“Limo Number One”, as the vehicle has been dubbed, was especially made for the head of state and took six years to complete. The six-door ZiL 4112R has a huge 7.7 litre engine, calf-leather upholstery and a video screen to show passengers the road ahead even when shutters are drawn over the windows. It weighs 3.5 tonnes, has a top speed of 125mph and covers about 18 miles per gallon of fuel.
I wouldn’t want to swear to the truth of this story (I think I first saw it in PJ O’Rourke, make of that what you will).
To make a car body you need, umm don’t know the technical word, a mould. A form if you like, which the machine then stamps the sheet steel into the right shape over. This is what makes the body, the bonnet, the roof, etc.
The Zil is actually built using the old Chrysler Imperial forms (err, molds?) from the 1950s. Back then the US body shape changed every year: so new molds every year. The Russians bought one set one year and have been using it ever since.
Obviously, such molds wear over time. It’s said that you can tell how old or new one is by looking at the crispness of the folds and tucks in the body shape. The cleaner they are the older the car. For the wear and tear of use over the decades has led to blurring of said molds.
Too fun a story to be actually checked of course.