…inspired by a conversation with my son
Have you ever driven a car with the steering wheel on the right side? In the US?
There are 76 countries with left-hand traffic (that is, with the steering wheel on the right side of the car). and America is not one of them.
Russia also does not belong to this category. However, in Russia there are a lot of cars with the steering wheel on the right side.
…I recently spoke with my youngest son. Eugene got a new job in a company called “Samurai“. The store was named after a common Japanese car body. It sells Japanese cars and parts. There is also a “cool” garage. Mechanics installed Japanese engines on a Chinese truck, on a German Audi and on a Russian “Lada”.
Driving an originally Japanese car is very unusual for the US, isn’t it?
Tomsk car owners prefer to have foreign cars because of the quality matter.
In Soviet times, there was a shortage of everything: goods, food, clothing, and, of course, vehicles. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, adventure individuals began to bring cars from Europe and Japan (via Vladivostok). Soviet vehicles were no longer in demand.
In 1990-es a car delivery business appeared.
Japanese cars were popular for their quality and reliability. They were comfortable and beautiful, equipped with automatic transmissions, economical engines. They could cost less than European ones because of the steering wheel on the right side.
Right-hand drive cars from Japan were not uncommon in the far East in the 70s and 80s. They were brought mainly for their own use by diplomats, trade representatives, and merchant seamen. The mass importation began in the 92-93 years.
The car delivery business was dangerous. Only very crazy drivers did it alone. Not everyone returned home. Usually a few men gathered together. Some of them bought a car for themselves, others – by order. The men flew from Tomsk or Novosibirsk to Vladivostok. It takes about 6 hours.
There, they went to the auto market, trying not to attract attention. They had to choose vehicles, purchase (for dollars), do the paperwork, and leave the city as soon as possible.
Men had to be fully equipment: small flat stoves, food and water. There were not many cafes on the road, and there wasn’t a good road* either.
I don’t know all the details, but somehow they gathered in large groups to be able to protect themselves from the mafia.
Apart from the mafia, the road itself was not safe.
In winter, they had to travel part of the way on the frozen surface of the Shilka river. Winter temperatures could drop to -22°F – -49°F.
In the summer, they traveled this part of the way by train. The drivers stayed in their cars for several days.
It was a really dangerous adventure.
This business still exists . Only now it is carried out not by individuals, but by small companies.
People say that a good driver doesn’t care where the steering wheel is. My dream is to become a good driver… one day … the sooner the better… tomorrow…
*The government started construction of the Amur highway in 1978. Only 25 percent of the road was built in 20 years. Construction resumed in 2002. In 2010, Prime Minister Putin tested a ready-made track behind the wheel of a Russian-made car.