1950 ZIS 110B Phaeton


1950 ZIS 110B Convertible Phaeton

Chassis No. 1025
Body No. 01033
Engine No. 2647

6,002 cc side valve inline eight cylinder engine, 140hp, 3-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, Coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle.

This is the Soviet Union’s counterpart of a Mercedes-Benz 770K Phaeton, a grand, elegant, formal open car for the Soviet nomenklatura –field marshals and ministers of the Stalinist Soviet era – to use in parades and formations.

It looks like a 1942 Packard with some idiosyncratic features. It isn’t, despite oral history that had Franklin Roosevelt induce Packard to send its blueprints and production dies to the Soviet Union as a gift to Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin during World War II to play up to Stalin’s love for Packards.

The design, styling and basic layout (inline eight-cylinder side valve engine, independent front suspension, frame design) are 1942 Packard but there is not a piece of this ZiS that interchanges with any Packard of the period. It was made, wholly and largely by hand, in a small quantity in the ZiS factory complex (“Zavod imeni Stalin”, “Factory named for Stalin”) on the Moscow River within sight of the Kremlin.

Produced from 1946 through (and possibly beyond) 1958 the basic ZiS 110 was a large 4-door limousine, the preferred ride for high-ranking Soviet officials and a frequent gift to Soviet-aligned foreign dignitaries and heads of state including China’s Mao Zedong, North Korea’s Kim Il-sung and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh. Only a few over 2,000 ZiS 110s in all styles were built, of which only about 100 were open phaetons like this.

ZiS was organized in the czarist era by the Automobile Society of Moscow in 1916 as AMO and was renamed after reorganization in 1931 as ZiS. It was a Stalinist, Soviet creation with a vast collection of buildings and apartments that employed at one time some 40,000 workers building an array of vehicles, mostly rugged, serviceable trucks which owed no small part of their concept to the Ford Model AA and the older Fiat F-15, and farm tractors.

The Soviets revered Henry Ford whose River Rouge plant exemplified the grandiose visions of Soviet leaders – although ZiS depended upon American machinery from Budd and Hamilton Foundry and not a few Americans like the Reuther brothers. Production was, however, tiny, numbering only in the thousands annually.

Purges followed with many ZiS managers, engineers and technicians eliminated, some mercifully with a bullet to the head and others condemned to the purgatory of Stalin’s gulags. A few returned when their value was realized, but most disappeared forever. One who survived was Ivan Alekseevich Likhachev who took over at ZiS in 1926, was exiled and then returned with such effect that in 1956 just two weeks after his death (from a heart attack) ZiS was renamed ZiL “Factory named after Likhachev”.

During World War II, even as Stalingrad was besieged by the Wehrmacht, ZiS took on the design of the new ZiS 110. The Soviet leadership was convinced that the war would end with Germany defeated and began to plan for a postwar renewal. In automobiles that would be the ZiS 110.

Roosevelt had sent two 1942 Cadillacs and three early 40’s Packards to Stalin including a Packard One Eighty. The resulting ZiS 110 represented, according to Lewis M Siegelbaum’s book “Cars for Comrades”, “the Soviet State on wheels”.

Russians already admired Buick’s design and styling features and the ZiS 110 incorporated elements of Cadillac and Buick design while being predominantly Packard with a tall hood, erect prow grille and imposing presence. The running boards were hidden below door extensions as on Buicks while the front fenders got chrome ribs that emphasized their imposing width complemented by imposing spears at the back of the front and rear wheel arches. The bumpers were compellingly Cadillac style.

The ZiS 110B Phaeton was the ultimate ZiS 110, lavishly appointed and equipped, the car for a small, elite group of Soviet leaders who would use it for parades, reviews, formal events and imposing arrivals at conferences. Cosmetically restored in Eastern Europe a while ago, this ZiS 110B Phaeton is a Soviet-era relic when dignitaries and Field Marshals would stand up proudly in the rear compartment accepting the obligatory accolades of their subjects and troops.

It was one of three ZiS 110B phaetons sent to Kyiv, Ukraine in 1955 for ceremonial use by high ranking military officers, state and communist party officials. In 1980, now thoroughly dated, the three Kyiv ZiS 110B phaetons were taken out of service and this one was sold in 1986 to the chairman of the Kyiv Avtoveteran club, Valentin Grigorevich Velichko, from whose estate it was acquired in 2021 after years of negotiation.

It was restored in Ukraine in the early 2020’s by Mikhail Beskrovny, finished in Soviet Parade Air Force uniform Blue with Blue leather upholstery, then spirited out of the country after the Russian invasion in 2022. The bodywork, paint, top and chrome are excellent. It has Ukraine registration and a currently working on a U.S. title.

Features include rear seat heater vents in the back of the front seat to keep the nomenklatura’s legs warm, a removable chrome handrail behind the front seats, B-pillar posts for the convertible phaeton top, rich woodgrain painted trim across the window sills and dashboard, a cream plastic steering wheel rim that matches the gauge panel with crisp metric gauges (aside from a slightly crazed speedometer cover). The rear compartment features jump seats (for security forces?) It rides on Firestone labeled wide whitewall tires mounted on steel wheels with hubcaps. It runs and drives well.

Recently serviced by Parkers Packards/ZIS, it is ready for immediate use and enjoyment.   Said to be 140 (Soviet) horsepower, it will make its presence known on the highway or on any show field while keeping people absorbed with its origin and historical significance.

It’s not a Packard. It’s an historic Kyiv-based formal parade ZiS 110B phaeton.

Tom’s Test Drive:  I have driven this ZIS about 40 miles so far.  Comfortably cruising at 40-50 MPH with room for more, night driving with all lights on with charging up to par.  Brakes very well, starts easily hot or cold, steering and tracking true.  Top working as it should.  Shifting is fine, Steering and suspension doing their job.  

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Listing Type: Automobiles
Year: 1950
Make: ZIS
Model: 110-B
Body Style: Phaeton
Transmission: 3-Speed Manual
Condition: Beautiful Restoration
Location: Smithfield, RI 02917
Exterior Color: Blue
Interior Color: Blue

I highly encourage a personal or a pre-purchase inspection service on your behalf to inspect the vehicle you are interested in purchasing.  Give me a call at 401-651-2295 or email directly at [email protected]   WORLDWIDE SHIPPING happily arranged.

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