ZIL 4112-R: A Cold War relic resurrected

ZIL 4112-RIn Russia, one carmaker is still fighting the Cold War. ZIL, maker of the giant limousines that ferried Soviet dictators from military parades to their dachas, is seeking to update these relics of history. The company’s new model carries the appropriately bureaucratic name ZIL 4112-R.

If you’re old enough to remember the Cold War, you may have seen the 4112-R’s predecessor ferrying Brezhnev, Andropov, or Gorbachev around. As an arm of the Soviet state’s centralized economy, ZIL (as ZIS, or “Stalin Works” before 1956) built trucks for the Red Army, and was the preferred ride of all Soviet leaders from Stalin on down.

The ZIL 4112-R, then, has a history that most executives would not include in glossy brochures. Yet, despite ending production in 2002, ZIL sees a new market for these gargantuan limos. Maybe the company hopes to cash in on the retro ‘80s craze.

Other than the Brezhnev seal of approval, the ZIL limo does not have much going for it. The company says the 4112-R combines the traditional look of Cold War-era ZILs with updated mechanicals, but that isn’t saying much.

The old 7.7-liter V8 now has fuel injection, giving it 400 horsepower, 85 more than the old model, and is connected to an American-made Allison five-speed automatic transmission. That’s the same transmission General Motors offers in its heavy duty pickup trucks.ZIL 4112-R interior

ZIL says, despite the extra, power, the new limo’s top speed is still limited to about 120 mph. That’s not bad, considering that the 4112-R weighs 7,700 pounds.

Naturally, this Commie cruiser is weighed down with luxury. It seats six: two in front, and four in back in two rows of facing bucket seats. The rear passengers enjoy Learjet-like amenities, including tray tables and a wood-covered overhead panel with vents and lighting. Other perks include privacy curtains and a built-in champagne cooler.

That classic styling gets some slight updates in the form of new headlights and taillights, as well as less chrome trim. The ZIL still brings new meaning to the phrase “designed by a committee.”

The ZIL 4112-R is an impressive chunk of Russian luxury, but isn’t reintroducing it to the post-Cold War world a bit distasteful? No one wants to be reminded of the brutality of the Soviet regime.

Still, ZIL says its reborn limo has a purpose. The Russian government wants Russian cars for its official fleet; it’s a matter of national pride and the same reason American Presidents cruise around in Cadillacs.

Since the end of the Cold War, Russians have tried to separate their history from the history of Soviet rule. Is the ZIL a Soviet or Russian icon? Its maker is betting that it is the latter, and that this titanic limo can shed its unpleasant past.


Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is ready to strike with over 700 hp

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 revives one of the greatest names in American muscle cars, and gives Ford some ammunition in the horsepower war with Chevy and Dodge. Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the GT500 boasts over 700 hp.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.