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After unsuccessful tests with the prototype ZIL-Moscow in 1956 the ZIL-111 was introduced from ZIL in 1959. The styling was inspired by the mid-1950s Packard, a United States automobile manufacturer. It was powered by a 6.0 L V8 engine producing 200 hp (150 kW) connected to an automatic transmission giving a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph).

In the early 1960s the car was restyled (and renamed ZiL-111G) and it was available both as sedan and convertible. The front styling of this car very closely resembled the U.S. Cadillac from 1961-62, and out back it had dual-unit taillights resembling an early-Sixties Mercury. For U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's visit, E. Molchanov designed a special version. A minibus version called ZiL-118 Yunost (Youth) was also developed, on factory's own initiative, but only 20 were built because of a lack of interest of government.

As a rule, the ZiL-111 was available only for members of the Politburo.