a:level was established in Moscow with the contribution of a foreign investor durind the late ’90s. Together with his russian partners, he further developed a department of the Autolak body workshop, which used to manufacture cars by special order. The activity of a:level focuses on creating unique cars, tuning and service included.
In 2001, a:level presented an impressive coupe, wearing the styling elements of a traditional russian sedan produced during the 50s, Volga GAZ M-21. This model was never offered with a coupe body. The Volga V12 Coupe manufactured by a:level looks exactly like a “sporty” GAZ M-21 should look, yet it drives like a true high-performance sportscar of the 2000s (acceleration from 0 to 100 kph in 6,3 seconds, 250 kph maximum speed).
To achieve this project, the managers Ivan Shishkin and Anatoly Mikhaylov chose a BMW 850 CSi technical platform (5.576 cc V12 engine, 380 bhp, rear wheel drive). The car will remain unique, consequence of the a:level philosophy. As the director Ivan Shishkin mentioned to the “Car & Driver” magazine: “Our cars are works of art! Each is built like a tailored suit for one customer. We’re not selling handbags by the dozen here! 80% of the customers who come to us, we reject. Most have money, but no imagination and culture…”
In September 2006 a:level showed another BMW-based Volga replica, this time a convertible model. This car uses the technical base of a BMW 650i, powered by a 4.8 litre V8 engine (368 HP). The Volga V8 Convertible is characterised by the same fine craftmanship as the Volga V12 Coupe.
What is really amazing regarding the a:level V12 Coupe and V8 Convertible concerns the refinement of the proprotions and details. None of the original styling elements of the GAZ M-21 was neglected or overlooked. However, the “deer” emblem, decorating the bonnet of the original Volga GAZ M-21, is missing on the Volga replicas made by a:level.
The brand image of a:level may be mainly identified with the two exceptional Volga replicas, yet this company produced some more special cars. Another great project of theirs: the revival of the Russo-Baltique brand (1909-1923). The a:level workshop was supposed to assemble a very limited number of examples (approximately one car per year) of the Russo-Baltique Impression neoclasic coupe – first shown in 2006. This car was designed starting from a Mercedes S-Class technical platform, yet it seems the project was never completed.