Russia’s newest taxi is unlike any other you’ve ever seen – it’s actually an armored reconnaissance vehicle that’s been modified to roam the streets of St. Petersburg just like any other cab. Although it has been painted red, its military design and deactivated turret gun machine can hardly be camouflaged and the vehicle never fails to grab attention every time it passes by.
The BRDM-2 Combat Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle was manufactured in the Soviet Union between 1963 and 1989. Well known for its ability to negotiate any kind of terrain, the BRDM was armed with a 14.5 mm Vladimirov heavy machine gun and a 7.62 mm Kalashnikov’s tank machine gun.
The BRDM’s current owner has long since wanted to use it as a taxi, but city authorities refused to grant a permit at first. After a long licensing campaign, the authorities finally gave in, with certain conditions. They asked that the vehicle’s camouflage pattern be changed to something more civilian. That’s why the owner chose red, in order to differentiate it from the standard yellow taxi color. The BRDM taxi is also prohibited from entering certain streets in the historical center of St. Petersburg, owing to its large size and weight.
It might seem like an odd choice for a taxi, but the BRDM has a few advantages, like its spacious interior and its amphibious capacity that allows it to deliver passengers to any address across the Neva River. This is especially useful during the legendary ‘white nights’ in St. Petersburg during the summer, when bridges are raised every night to let big ships pass between Onega Lake and the Baltic Sea.
The owner has chosen not to upgrade the interior of the BRDM taxi. Instead, he maintained the Spartan design to give people the authentic experience of riding in a Soviet military vehicle. A single ride costs a rather hefty 5,000 rubles (approximately $100), but the price is justified because the taxi is mostly intended tourists and newlyweds looking for an unforgettable experience.