Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
IN A free from competition market like the USSR used to be, every model was planned to fill a certain niche. There was no need to replace a design for marque prestige alone. Hence the Gorky Automobile Factory's flagship GAZ-13 Chaika (the seagull), first built in 1959, remained in production for years longer than any similar car would have in the West.
More than 3,100 Chaika's were built during the 22 year production run. The Chaika was visually a near-clone of the 1955 Packard Patrician and Mercury, with typical chrome 1950s styling.
The Chaika was not in competition with the ZIL
range. In the USSR there was no need for such competition. The Chaika was primarily used to transport less important people, not the top Party officials, but trade delegations or foreign journalists, scientists, academics, and other VIPs.
The M13 was powered by a 195 horsepower (145 kW) 5.5 litre V8 driven through a push-button automatic transmission
of a similar design to the Chrysler TorqueFlite unit. As a limousine-class car, Chaikas were available only to the Soviet government, and could not be purchased by the average Soviet citizen.
For their larger size and more powerful V8, Chaikas were also ordered in some quantity by the KGB. Nikita Khrushchev, although entitled to a ZIL
, was known to prefer Chaikas, and kept an M13 at his summer dacha.
the original Chaika design was, even by Soviet standards, well overdue for an overhaul.
Of course the mechanical components were to be retained, but GAZ needed a completely new bodyshell.
The designers (under V. Nosakoff, chief of the GAZ heavy cars section) had produced their own version of the ZlL, less the glass partition. The seven-seater body was eight inches longer than the model it replaced, and 14.5 in. longer than a Daimler limousine. Both the M13 and M14 manufacture overlapped for several years.
The engine needed all of its 220 bhp to carry the 2½ ton car monolith from rest to 62 mph in 15 seconds, and to a claimed top speed of 109 mph. The updated Chaika was conventionally sprung with coils in the front and semi-elliptics at the rear.
The list of standard equipment on the second generation Chaika was much improved. Inertia reel safety belts were standard - as were electrically operated windows and radio aerial. For the first time in the USSR, a car other than a ZlL had air-conditioning. A stereo music centre completed the list, and a 66 Amp. Hr. alternator kept up the power demand.
The M14 engine was modernized and achieved 220 horsepower (160 kW). The Chaika M14 remained in production from 1977
to 1988, after which point the Chaika limousine brand was ended. Although most Chaikas were sedans, both generations were also produced in 4-door convertible form, primarily for parade use. The M13 convertible, or M13b, was built for only two years 1961 and 1962. The M14b lasted longer, introduced in 1982, it ran to the end of Chaika production in 1988. A station wagon version, the M13A Universal, was produced for a few years in the 1960s and is the lowest-volume Chaika variant. Many of the wagons were converted to ambulance or funeral car duty.
GAZ Chaika M14 Quick Specs
Limousine GAZ-14 "Chaika" (English translation: "Gull") (1977-88). 7 seats, 4 doors. Drive: 4x2. Power windows. Power steering. Suspension: front - independent (A-arms, coil springs), rear - dependent (solid axle, leaf springs). Motor: bored GAZ- 53A, gasoline (2 carburettors), ohv, V8, displacement 5,526 cc. Max. power 220 hp @ 4,200 rpm. Torque 291 ft.-lb. @ 2,500 rpm. Automatic 3 steps gearbox, max. speed 109 mph, acceleration 0 to 62 mph - 15 s. Brakes: front - disks, rear - drums, with hydraulic control. Measures: LxWxH=20'1"x6'7.5"x5', wheel base 11'3.8". Track front/rear: 5'2.6"/5'2.2". Curb weight: 5,710 lbs. Tyres 210R15. Fuel economy: 14.8 mpg (average).