Do The Russians Love Their Chevy's Too

775 words - 3 pages

Recently, plans were announced to reintroduce the Russian built Lada into Canada. Mr. Erhard Weitler, who owns the distributorship is in for a rocky future. Never mind that the car has an identity problem: It's boxlike styling, is easily spotted making it an easy target for vandals. Never mind that the previous dealer was forced out of business. These problems pale when we examine the most basic tenet of selling under capitalism Appeal.While an increasingly number of Americans drive foreign built autos, the majority continue to "buy American" when it comes to purchasing a new car. For many, the American car symbolizes the nation. Thus, purchasing an American built auto becomes a patriotic gesture.Thus, it was only appropriate that we find out what the Russians drive.The Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is located three blocks north of the White House in an obscure mansion. Seldom does one ever see the red banner with the gilded hammer and sickle flying. Neither is there an inordinate amount of secret service protection. Publicity is minimal. The only distinguishing factor that indicates that it is the embassy of an important country is the tell tell sign a large number of automobiles with diplomatic plates surrounding the building.Several years ago the State Department decided to provide each embassy in the United States with coded license plates. The tags, which are good for three years, have a combination of letters and numbers. As many people know, the prefix FC is used by the Soviet Union. (It used to be SX but the Russians complained about civilian harrassment and it was changed.) One day we walked the stretch up 16th Street between L and M Streets. One could not help but notice the numerous cars with the FC prefix. Furthermore, it seemed that the majority of the Russians were driving American manufactured cars.Was this a requirement of the diplomatic mission? We called Brian Barrott, at the State Department's, Office of Foreign Missions and posed the question. He told us the Russians could import any car they chose. However, in the United States they could not buy a "nonconforming car", i.e., it had to conform to all American standards. He explained that the Russians had about 200 cars registered in Washington, D.C. including several...


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