The ABC7 I-Team uncovers a Russian mystery that stretches 5,000 miles and ends up in Illinois. A priceless gift from a ruthless dictator is in a local museum, and now, it’s causing an international incident.
As the brutal Russian Premier Joseph Stalin clamped down on the Soviet Union, millions of his people were starving to death. Stalin was being chauffeured around in a custom, luxury, armored car.
The I-Team unlocks how that priceless piece of history ended up in an Illinois museum, why federal prosecutors are involved, and the diplomatic firestorm that has been kept under wraps.
Three-inch-thick bulletproof glass, 15,000 pounds of steel armor on wheels. This is Joseph Stalin’s Packard. It’s a fitting ride for a man whose name literally means “steel.”
“It actually was on eBay!” said Wayne Lensing, Historic Auto Attractions.
Wayne Lensing found this car for sale online and worked out a deal to bring it here to his museum in tiny Roscoe, Illinois, just north of Rockford. The 1937 black Packard Super 12 was outfitted with the finest in protection to keep the former soviet dictator safe.
“Joseph Stalin wanted to protect his life quite seriously,” said Lensing.
The heavily-armored hunk of Detroit metal has hints of its soviet past, from deep blood red upholstery to the red star emblazoned on the driver’s side sun visor. The museum even has these pictures of Stalin, pictured in what appears to be this very automobile.
It sat here next to other world leader limousines, undisturbed for several years, until one day in 2011, when federal agents walked in Lensing’s front door.
“Show me a badge and say we’re here to confiscate this car…and I’m in total shock because I worked real hard to be able to save up to buy the car,” said Lensing. Read the rest of this article on WLS-TV Chicago Website. More info about Stalin’s Packard is here on Historic Auto Attractions Website.