If you spend any amount of time scrolling Etsy and eBay for Soviet-era car parts and accessories, you’ve no doubt come across little lucite shift knobs like the one I recently bought, pictured above. (If you’ll recall, I’m building/rebuilding a Lada. I’ll update you on that before too long, but at this point it’s as much Subaru/Honda as it is Lada.) I was excited to find this particular shift knob, as the red roses match the Lemons-grade paint job on the exterior of the car, and the green is close enough to Lada’s original color which will remain in the interior and on the new roll cage.
Etsy and eBay have piles and piles of these old shift knobs, made with little golden carriages, roses and all kinds of other knick-knacks. Some of the listings say they were made by prisoners, but I haven’t been able to confirm that — or really, find any other information on them at all outside of the listings. I’ve seen no-context photos of them installed on all sorts of old Soviet iron, so I gather they were something of a trend in the pre-or-maybe-early-HyperNormalization era.
I had previously associated this style of shift knob with VIP style and/or the current American interpretation of VIP style, but now that I know it was a thing in the USSR, I am dying to know more. So, if you’re a Russophile, or maybe grew up in Russia or the Eastern Bloc, jump into the comments and school your pal. Did I buy an uncool Soviet shift knob that will immediately identify me as a poseur to those in the know? Tell me!