A car is much more than an appliance built for driving you to work and the grocery store; it is an extension of your personality, and a symbol of one’s status. Whether it’s the nod of approval WRX drivers give each other on the street or the power displayed by the driver of a luxury car, what you drive shows who you are.

In the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the criminal underworld in Russia grew to great power and prominence, becoming a dominant force in the nation’s society. This came at the same time as increased foreign business, with Russia moving away from its Soviet-era state run economy. These two events led to the foreign automobile becoming a symbol of great power within Russia, with Soviet cars being notoriously cheap and poorly produced. German automobiles, world-renowned for their high quality, became an object of desire for Russian Gangsters. Anyone driving a BMW, Mercedes or Volvo was clearly someone not to be messed with.

In fact, these cars were of such high honour that it led to one of the most bizarre bits of car culture. There are numerous examples of Russian gangsters having their cars immortalized in their gravestones. No old-school stone with their name, these men of status wouldn’t be caught dead in a Volga, and they were keen to remind you that, even from beyond the grave.

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