There are many gangster films set in the 30s and 40s where the semi-automatic machine guns of the ‘Thompson’ type abound, cigars and champagne, Fedora hats, striped tweeds, and those mythical scenes where a handful of bandits prepare to rob a bench attached to the footrests of the car. From the films of the ‘Prohibition’ era to the ‘The Godfather’ saga that began in 1972, ‘The Untouchables of Elliot Ness’ (1987) or the 2006 film ‘The Departed’, the film industry has always known how to squeeze very good the theme of the mafia. However, what makes and models of cars did those criminals use for their criminal tasks. By the way, if you dream to buy a mafia car – today it is possible, go to Zemotor and choose which do you want.
Let’s see some of the most used cars by gangsters in the past.
Al Capone’s Cadillac Town Sedan (1928)
“You can do more with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.” Alphonse Gabriel Capone, aka ‘Al Capone’, went from being a simple antique dealer to dominating Chicago crime in the 1920s and 1930s. The 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan was one of the most used by this kingpin descendant of Italian immigrants. Why? Very easy. It is a luxurious car with 1,300 kg steel armor totally immune to bullets, 2.5 cm thick glass, and a 110 hp V8 341 with three speeds.
Rolls Royce Silver Ghost (1907-1926)
Mobster Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson, who controlled the Atlantic City political machine at his whim, was addicted not only to champagne and nightclubs but also had a taste for cars. Nucky was a teetotaler until the death of his wife Mabel when he became the undisputed owner of every gallon of illegal alcohol that entered the then “world’s largest gambling city” at the time of the famous law “American dry”. In 1907, Rolls Royce introduced the Silver Host model under four different chassis; two models of 20 hp and 4 cylinders, one of 30 hp and 6 cylinders, and the last, the so-called ’40/50 hp’.
Ford Model 18 V-8 (1932-1934)
The world’s first inexpensive V8 engine was released by Ford in 1932, instantly being sued by multiple criminals for hitting the road. Its top speed reached almost 80mph (130 km/h). Notorious bank robber John Dillinger and criminal couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow even thanked Henry Ford in writing for releasing a model so perfectly suited to his duties.
Mercury Eight (1946-1951)
In 1946 and after the end of World War II, the manufacturer Mercury launched a car into the world that dazzled a whole generation of gangsters and robbers in the United States. On October 22 of this year, Lincoln-Mercury became a separate division of Ford, so why not compete with a more powerful V8 engine? No sooner said than done. The demand for this model became such that many American families waited months to acquire it, especially after a long period of restrictions and in the midst of the last scourges derived from the Great Economic Depression born in the 30s. Even James Dean was driving one in the 1955 film ‘Rebel Without a Cause’.
Ford Lotus Cortina (1963-1966)
Ford Lotus Cortina enthusiasts will recognize some of the popular names that own one; like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, or Colin Chapman. However, it has also been one of the favorite models of the famous gangster Bruce Reynolds, who used it to hide the equivalent of almost 6 million euros after the robbery of a train. To date (1963) it was established as the largest robbery carried out in Great Britain. It did not matter that its striking white and green paint attracted too much attention, its power of 105 hp with a top speed of 178 km / h, made it perfect to write a new chapter in the history of crime.
How About the Contemporary and Modern Russian Mafia?
The gang leaders used brands like Mercedes and Lincoln, while the common members preferred huge off-road vehicles, as they were more effective and menacing.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a deep economic crisis in Russia that caused a huge increase in crime. The so-called “wild 1990s” were a period of gang warfare, shootouts, and endless robberies.
We present to you ten cars that the Russian bandits enchanted.
The only Russian vehicle on the list, the VAZ-2109, was fast and relatively reliable. It became a workhorse for gangs during the 1990s. The car was cheap and very popular with ordinary people and even featured in numerous popular music songs of the time.
- BMW 525i
Despite the wide distribution of VAZs, people were tired of the domestic automobile industry and longed for the new foreign cars, which invaded the markets after the fall of the USSR. The BMW 525i became a symbol of the decade. This fast German car was perfect when you had to leave behind the police, who were still using slow Soviet vehicles at the time.
- BMW 7
Another German-made product is known as the most “fired” car of the 90s in Russia. No other car was pierced as often by bullets as the BMW 7.
- Lincoln Town Car
American cars were very popular with Moscow criminals. Despite being too big and unwieldy, the Lincoln Town Car demonstrated the owner’s social status, as only a true mob boss could own one.
- Volvo 940
The great Lincolns couldn’t get through the narrow streets of St. Petersburg. So the criminals in the northern city of the country preferred the Volvos and Saab, from Sweden and Finland. In addition, they readily supplied spare parts.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
Luxury cars were not a good choice for the bad roads of rural Russia. In those places, the gangsters drove off-road vehicles, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The vehicle used a lot of fuel but it was not a big problem, due to the low gas prices in those years.
- Mercedes Gelandewagen
Russian mob bosses didn’t like this SUV, which was originally designed for the German and Iranian Armies. The Mercedes Gelandewagen was too loud and cramped for them. It was used by his bodyguards as a convoy.
Heavy, tough, and fast, the Mitsubishi Pajero was something of a tank for gangsters engaged in wars for territory. If the BMW 7 was the most fired car of the 90s, the Pajero was the most exploited.
- Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevrolet Tahoe was designed as a family car. Therefore, Americans will be surprised to learn that in Russia this nine-seater behemoth was used to bring entire units of criminals to carry out attacks.
- Mercedes S600
Every Russian gangster’s dream. The only ones who could afford one were the mob bosses. Cozy and comfortable, the “wild boar” (as the car was nicknamed) gave its owner great prestige, although it did not give many guarantees of safety. This Mercedes was set on fire, shot, and exploded just like any other in the “wild ‘90s.”