The Taiga 670 (sometimes referred to as the TAZ-670), is a luxury sedan produced by then-Soviet automaker Taiga. It is notable for utilizing a rear-engined V8 platform, which was highly unusual. Regardless, it became popular as a diplomat car among Soviet embassies, and was occasionally made available to high-ranking members of society in the Soviet Union as well as its satellite states. It was replaced by the Taiga 680 in 1973, though it continued production for one additional year as to use up spare parts and tooling.
History & design
The 670 was originally part of several aerodynamic prototypes developed by Taiga since the 1930's. The project was halted due to the outbreak of The Great Patriotic War (World War II) in the USSR in 1941, and would not officially resume until the late 1940's. The 670 was conceptualized shortly after the Taiga Koryakia, and the two share many design features. The 670, however, opts for a rear-engine layout as opposed to the Koryakia's front-mounted layout. Their body design and interior also share several similarities, though only the 670 would reach full-scale production, with the first complete vehicles rolling off the production line in 1952.
The car is built on a steel space frame chassis, using steel panels. It is mostly a traditional construction, though it uses double wishbone suspension on both axles, which was rather advanced at the time. Furthermore, the anti-roll bars were made very stiff. This was done to reduce sway in the body at high speeds, which is a common issue on rear-engined cars. Even with these alterations, it still became notorious for being difficult to control at high speeds, easily leaning over to the side and being prone to spinning out.
The body itself is designed with aerodynamics in mind, relying on a low drag coefficient. It is fitted with dual front headlights, encased inside a fake front grille inset. It has large chromed bumpers both front and rear, in addition to chrome trim along the side of the car as well as the top of the rear fenders. The bumpers themselves are classically 1950's, with two dagmar-style protrusions, mimicking jet engine intakes. Some models also feature yellow spotlights fitted to the front bumper. A large hood scoop is present, though it only services the air conditioning system. As the car is rear-engined, a large raised intake is fitted on the trunk, providing cooling to the engine. This raised line continues down the trunk, where it is cut off by a molded license plate holder. The taillights are rather conventional, with triple-slotted box lights featuring brake lights, reverse lights and indicators.
Production and use
As a large luxury vehicle, the 670 saw rather limited production. It was also never made directly available outside Soviet territories, which made it essentially unheard of in the west. It was selected as one of the options for Soviet diplomatic vehicles in 1954, which resulted in some units being exported to their respective countries.
While originally only purchasable by government agencies, some 670's were privately owned. These owners were usually elite members of society, such as important party officials, factory directors, and high-ranking officers in the armed forces.
Discontinuation and cult status
The 670 remained in production until 1974, when it was discontinued in favor of the Taiga 680. By this time, its style and engineering had aged considerably. Nevertheless, it remained in use amongst several government organs until the 1990's.
In more recent years, the 670 has come to be viewed as one of, if not the most luxurious vehicle produced by the Soviet Union which while also being produced in large numbers. While relatively inexpensive, there exist several clubs and collector communities centered around rear-engined Taiga vehicles.
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The Taiga 670 is a fairly difficult car to drive, using a rear-engine layout with a staggered tire setup. It also has next to no safety equipment. That being said, it's a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy it.