Welcome to our Tbilisi Auto Museum Review! If you’re a fan of automobiles and history, or just looking for an offbeat adventure in Georgia’s capital city, you’re in for a treat. This Tbilisi car museum is a hidden gem that’s bound to rev up your curiosity about the unique and often odd Soviet-era cars.
In this review, we’ll be diving deep into this unique attraction, known for its great collection of Soviet-Era vehicles and a rich tapestry of automotive history. So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s explore the fascinating world of cars from a shadowy bygone era!
What is the Tbilisi Auto Museum?
The Tbilisi Auto Museum was born from a private passion for Soviet-Era cars and has evolved into a treasure trove of automotive history. Initially, it began with a humble display of 25 cars, but this collection has grown steadily over time.
What truly distinguishes this museum is its lineup of vehicles, the majority of which have strong ties to the USSR and were once cherished possessions of influential figures. An example that stands out is the 1978 Gaz-14 Chaika, which once belonged to Georgia’s second president, Eduard Shevardnadze (1995-2003). Many other automobiles on display carry histories linked to high-ranking Soviet officials.
As you wander through the museum’s corridors, one standout is the sleek black GAZ-M1, a model steeped in history as it was widely employed by the KGB in the 1930s, serving none other than Lavrentiy Beria, a Marshal of the Soviet Union.
Two more exceptional vehicles that joined the collection after meticulous restoration are the GAZ-M1, affectionately known as Emka, and the exceedingly rare GAZ-4 pickup truck – today, just a handful exist worldwide.
But what truly sets the Tbilisi Auto Museum apart is the breadth of its collection. It boasts one of the most diverse assortments of vintage cars in the region, ranging from the compact and colourful Zaporozhets to the robust and imposing Zil.
And here’s the cherry on top – the museum doesn’t just showcase these exquisite vehicles; it offers visitors the unique chance to rent one of these opulent vintage cars, allowing them to cruise through the enchanting streets of Tbilisi and create their own memories in these magnificent pieces of automotive history.
My Time Exploring the Tbilisi Auto Museum
To me, Tbilisi is a fascinating city. From the amazing Georgian food to the friendly locals, it quickly became one of my favourite destinations on my swing through Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It’s history as part of the Soviet Union also interested me so I wanted to spend some time digging into that. This led me to this quirky and out-of-the-way car museum in Tbilisi.
I visited this Tbilisi car museum as part of my Off the Beaten Path Soviet tour of Tbilisi which I highly recommend. Our guide took care of getting us there and purchasing the Tbilisi Auto Museum tickets. We were then handed off to a museum guide who was so stereotypically Russian that it was the highlight of the tour. As we walked through the collection of cars he spoke in a monotone voice and delivered deadpan jokes along the way which were unexpected and priceless.
Aside from the beautiful and unique vehicles, the highlight for me was learning about all the knockoffs and replications that went on during this time. Almost all of the vehicles were modelled off of popular American-made vehicles and, in some cases, everything was ripped off right down to the logo!
It truly is an exceptional collection of vehicles, including cars and a selection of motorcycles crafted during the USSR era. From the compact Zaporozhets to the imposing Zil and elegant Chaikas, it’s a haven for automotive enthusiasts and cultural explorers alike. Every exhibit gleams in pristine condition, artfully presented for your enjoyment.
Where is this Tbilisi Car Museum Located?
The Tbilisi Car Museum is located in the eastern part of the city between the centre of the town and the airport. It is about 10 Km from the old town and takes 15-20 minutes to get there by car.
It is a bit tricky to find but accessible by taxi or bus. Take bus number 2 to Zhoresi Street, then stroll along Police Street until you reach the marked junction leading to the museum.
That said, and again, I highly recommend visiting as part of a Soviet-Era tour. This takes the stress out of finding and getting the place and puts the car collection into context with other Soivet-Era sites in and around Tbilisi.
Lastly, if you are flying in or out of Tbilisi, visiting the Tbilisi car museum on your way to the airport is an option. Expect to spend 45 minutes to an hour visiting this small Tbilisi museum.
Tbilisi Auto Museum Tickets
Tbilisi Auto Museum tickets can be purchased directly at the museum. At just 10 Gel per person (~$3.75 USD), this car museum Tbilisi tour is very affordable and makes for an inexpensive and uniquely Tbilisi experience.
Note, tickets for the Tbilisi car museum are included in the Off the Beaten Path Soviet tour of Tbilisi tour price.
A Must-Visit Car Museum in Tbilisi
As you can see, the Tbilisi Auto Museum is far more than just a collection of vintage cars; it’s a portal to a bygone era. As we’ve delved into its treasures, we’ve uncovered the stories and legacies of vehicles that once graced the roads during the USSR days. It’s a captivating journey that provides not only a glimpse into the automotive history but also a unique perspective on the cultural and historical context of that time.
Visiting this car museum in Tbilisi isn’t merely about admiring polished chrome and sleek designs; it’s about immersing yourself in an era marked by Cold War tensions and the clear admiration the USSR had for Western vehicles.
So, whether you’re a car enthusiast or a history buff, the Tbilisi Auto Museum is a must-visit attraction that allows you to truly grasp life on the roads of Georgia during the USSR days. It’s a place where the past comes alive through the roar of engines and the gleam of well-preserved metal, making it an enriching and enlightening experience that shouldn’t be missed. Plan your visit today and step back in time at this remarkable automotive treasure trove.
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