From Russia with love—well, not really: Pasha’s first car story

Pasha's first car was a Moskvitch 2141.
Pasha’s father gave him his first car, a Moskvitch 2141. (Photo courtesy of Pasha Gavrichev)

Do you remember your first car? For car enthusiasts, a first car is more than just a means of getting from point a to point b. When they think about that car, they’re taken back to early solo drives, initial attempts at car repairs and that first-car sense of freedom. In 1A Auto’s “My First Car” series, our founders, management and staff share stories about their first cars. Keep reading for 1A Auto Vice President of digital strategy and research and development Pasha Gavrichev’s first car story.

Sitting down with Pasha recently and hearing about his first experiences with cars was fascinating, considering his point of view was from another country.

That country is Russia, and no, he was not sitting on Sarah Palin’s Alaskan front porch, where he thought he could see Russia. Pasha grew up there and had his first car experience in the city of Moscow.

First car feelings in America vs. Russia

According to Pasha, the American teenage experiences of owning a first car are quite different from those of Russian teens.

Most Americans perceive owning their first car as a rite of passage. The sense of freedom, staying out late, and the first big step of independence is what keeps most American pre-teens up late at night in anticipation.

The American experience seems a little lost on young Russians who grew up in the ’90s. 

In Russia, a first car is more about a sense of responsibility, ownership, and something you were required to learn how to fix, Pasha said.

The thrill of an awesome paint job, shining chrome, fast engines, and loud mufflers is not something Russian kids even thought of back then.

Pasha’s first car was given to him by his father. It was a Moskvitch 2141, a Russian car with a standard transmission and no power steering.

The majority of Russian cars produced in the ’80s and ’90s were modifications of older FIAT models. The Moskvitch was a welcome step up, with an attempt to add some driver comfort, but sadly, without any improvement in reliability.

Many cars parked in the Russian streets were made by the old Soviet Union and not exactly sexy.

As a result, the rite of passage for Russian teens was learning old winding city streets, and managing stress and survival on Moscow roads filled with traffic, congestion and a lot of dangerous drivers. If you wanted to get somewhere safely and fast, you would normally take public transportation, not a car.

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Driving in Russia

Back in the mid-90s, dealing with Russian traffic police was a lot different from what people are used to in the United States.

In most cases, they were far from friendly or helpful. Harassment on the road was just part of daily life and is one of the primary reasons why Russia saw the advent of dash cameras.

It wasn’t all bad in Russia. Pasha’s face drew a smile when he talked about long 10-hour trips with his friends.

“[Taking] trips away from the city was always a nice experience,” he said.

Pasha’s first car in America 

Pasha's first car after coming to the United States was a 1994 Land Rover Discovery.
Pasha’s first car after he came to the U.S. was a 1994 Land Rover Discovery. (Photo courtesy of Pasha Gavrichev)

In the early 2000s, Pasha made his way to the United States, and admittedly, he wasn’t much of a car guy back then. He did realize quickly that he needed a car to get around.

The vehicle that caught his eye was a 1994 Land Rover Discovery, and he loved it, but Pasha claims it was the worst car he’s ever owned. Local mechanics loved the Land Rover much more than he did.

Expensive repairs and lack of experience repairing a Land Rover often set Pasha back financially.

“I wish there were the 1A Auto do-it-yourself videos to lean on,” Pasha said.

Thankfully for new first car owners, they do have 1A Auto to help them with their own repairs.

Have a first car story you love? Share it with us in the comments!

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