But the Kolyma was not just the bumpy, rugged road that's a test for you and your car (for it actually wasn't - only the extreme cold was). I was drawn by the history of the Kolyma road: the hundreds of thousands of labour camp inmates send by rail to Vladivostok and Vanino, then boat to Magadan. These GULAG prisoners built Magadan, Susuman, Ust-Nera and numerous other settlements; they manned the gold and uranium mines; and they built the road.
There is a reason why the millions of prisoners were sent to this land. During the Stalinist industrialisation, and in the countdown to a world war (with political and economic adversaries like Nazi Germany, imperial Japan and the US, a standoff between the USSR and at least one of these powers was very likely), the state needed shock exploitation of resources. It was unlikely many would have volunteered to work in the extreme north-eastern Siberia, at least not until infrastructure was improved (the examples of Magnitogorsk and Birobidzhan from the 1920s confirm this - and both were far to the south, and far closer to existing infrastructure than Kolyma was). Prison labour was the solution. The Great Purges provided the numbers. The gold mined in Kolyma paid for large parts of the US equipment and 'aid' during the war.
My father said, and I agree, that no matter the circumstances around the building of the road, the Kolyma remains a human feat. It was built by people, hardly different than us, enduring the harshest environment and conditions our planet has.