After a friend tipped me off about the Tbilisi Auto Museum, I had to go check it out. This private car collection turned public museum is the largest collection of Soviet era cars, motorcycles and military vehicles in the Caucasus. Getting there by public transport was an interesting adventure all by itself, involving a journey through some pretty forsaken urban dereliction. In other words, totally worth it.
This off the beaten path car collection is literally located off a beaten dirt path in an overlooked, run-down industrial section of Tbilisi next to the old freight railway on the east side of town.
That’s probably why most people overlook this hidden gem. Don’t be like most people. Directions and a map are included further down after the photos.
Welcome to Tbilisi Auto Museum
Upon my arrival I was greeted by a polite man who seemed eager to have someone to talk to. During the 2-3 hours at Tbilisi Auto Museum I was the only visitor the entire time.
He gave me a guided tour around the museum, elaborating in great detail about each of the vehicles. Rather than just following a script, he appeared to have actual firsthand knowledge of what he was talking about.
The museum has grown so large that now it has two showrooms. The main building is packed full with all of the civilian and government cars. This includes Eduard Shevardnadze’s 1978 Gaz-14 “Chaika” and several other prominent vehicles.
The second, smaller building has all of the motorcycles and military vehicles. There are also a few other vehicles scattered around outside on site that are in the process of being rebuilt.
Still Restoring Classic Soviet Cars
The owner of the museum is a Georgian businessman and lover of classic cars. Most of the automobiles here were purchased as, well, rusted pieces of Soviet shit and restored to perfection by the owner.
To this day he continues to restore new old cars at a slow and steady pace. There is a garage on the property next to the second showroom where all of the auto magic happens.
After two decades the collection of vehicles had grown so large it had to be shared. On October 25th, 2014, the Tbilisi Auto Museum opened its doors to the public.
Several of the vehicles have before photos posted with the car so you can see how much work went into it.
All of the cars, motorcycles and military vehicles in Tbilisi Auto Museum were made in the USSR except for for one: a 1930 Ford Model A that is supposedly special.
1930 Ford Model A
The Ford Model A at Tbilisi Auto Museum was used in the classic 1967 film Bonnie And Clyde — at least according to the museum curator. He claims that this significance is the only reason the car is even on display here. After all, it doesn’t exactly fit the Soviet theme of the museum in the slightest.
The infamous Bonnie And Clyde death car was a 1934 Ford Model 730 Deluxe Sedan. The vehicle used in the movie was on display at Planet Hollywood in Dallas, Texas, until 2001 when the restaurant closed. After that it was then sold to a private collector. This is not supposed to be that car — just another that was used in the film.
I haven’t watched the movie in ages but if you do, keep an eye out for this 1930 Ford Model A.
Directions to Tbilisi Auto Museum
If you are staying in or near Tbilisi Old Town, the easiest way to get to the auto museum is a straight shot on the #2 bus from the central stations near Liberty Square. If you are staying east of the river closer to the airport, the #30 is also an option.
Hop off the #2 bus at stop #3535 (ქინძმარაულის ქუჩა #16) and walk north on the bridge across the railway tracks. Continue straight a couple of blocks until you see the Auto Museum Street sign pictured at the beginning of this article.