I am having trouble reconciling the grandness of the golden age with the sight of all those rusted out cars near the cosmodrome that look to have had rubber tires and combustion engines. Presumably they had something at least as good as sparrows or pikes before the fall. Guardians, I don't think we are being told the whole truth here.
Not necessarily. I think sparrow tech was probably based off of captured fallen tech. Remember, the colony ships were just massive shuttles attached to massive boosters. The tech wasn't that far advanced, at least not in the cosmodrome. Besides, this is Russia were talking about.