Yes, the automotive industry remains far from the most advanced side of the states that have emerged from the post-Soviet space. Most of the vehicles that were produced in the USSR are recycled analogues of Western cars. For example, GAZ-A, produced from 1932 to 1936, cannot be called a Soviet car at all. Its production was a SKD assembly of the American Ford Model A under the appropriate license. This phenomenon helped to form GAZ OJSC, which began to produce quite interesting first original cars. Other domestic manufacturers have also had the most curious attempts in this industry, and none of them turned out to be a complete failure.
- To this topic: These are the first models of top automotive brands. Between 1st and 10th – a real abyss
GAZ-AA “Polutorka” (1932)
Some readers, far from being the most identified in the Soviet automobile industry, probably assume that some early Volga was the first GAZ. No, this is not so – the first vehicle with a similar name appeared only in 1956. Moreover, “Victory”, which began to be produced by the plant in 1946, was also not his first conditionally independent project. In fact, it turned out to be GAZ-AA, which was released in 1932 and was called “Lorry” in the common people. The funny truck was produced together with the GAZ-A passenger car with the support of American specialists from Ford. However, Soviet engineers significantly reworked the clutch, steering gear and many other components. The car turned out to be simple, but thought out to the smallest detail, and very confidently coped with all its duties for many more years.
The Moskvich -400 (1946)
It was this car, which was produced until 1954, that became the first mass vehicle for individual use in the USSR. Its design was inspired by the Opel Kadett K38. Immediately after the end of the war, the country’s leadership began to restore the automotive industry. This also applied to the plant, which eventually received the name “Moskvich”. Initially, it was only a branch of GAZ OJSC and was engaged in the production of a replica of the Ford Model A and the notorious “Lorry”. But after the end of hostilities, he became independent. The first model of the manufacturer was to be reliable in use and unpretentious in maintenance. It was produced both as a sedan and as a convertible. Yes, today it would be very interesting to look at Soviet citizens who surf the country in a car without a top.
This truck was originally developed at the Yaroslavl Automobile Plant during World War II and had the YAZ-205 index. Nevertheless, after the end of hostilities, its production was transferred to the facilities of the newly created Minsk Automobile Plant. Yes, the MAZ-205 turned out to be the first model of the enterprise. MAZ-200, which was a simplified version of the prototype and seemed to be its predecessor, was launched into the series only three years later. The cabin of the original model was made of wood with metal cladding. The carrying capacity was 6 tons when driving on the highway and 5 tons when driving on a dirt road. This monster was driven by a 4.7-liter engine, first at 110, and then at 120 horsepower. For its time, the truck was quite interesting and surpassed the Lorry in literally everything.
ZAZ-965 “Zaporozhets” (1960)
The car, which eventually became the Zaporozhets, was designed at the Moscow Small Car Plant back in 1956. Initially, it was supposed to be produced at the same enterprise, but the story turned out a little differently. The country’s leadership decided to transfer work on the vehicle to the Zaporizhzhya Kommunar plant, which was engaged in the production of agricultural machinery. Fundamental for this car were rear-wheel drive and the same engine layout. Despite the fact that 1960 is considered the official launch year of the model, it only began to be mass-produced in 1961 or even 1962. Initially, the power of the vehicle was 23 horsepower. It was only in 1965 that they managed to increase it to the “cherished” 30 – for this it is worth saying thanks to the new carburetor. The car was also produced in modifications for drivers with physical disabilities, which was also very important in the post-war years. I rode one of these in the 90s many times. It would be interesting to find a live copy and drive it again.
VAZ 2101 “Penny” (1970)
Of course, the VAZ 2101 was never officially called the “Penny”, but among the people this model is identified in this way. The car was produced under the inspiration of the Fiat 124. Actually, the plant, which had already been built in Togliatti by 1970, was originally created specifically for the purpose of producing these cars. But in the end, the reworked Zhiguli went into the series. By the way, the model differed quite a lot from the prototype even in the design of the engine – for example, instead of the lower camshaft, the upper one was used. The 1.2-liter engine developed 64 horsepower – later it was pumped up to 1.5 liters, but such a modification was intended, to a greater extent, only for the police. The car was exported even to the UK – there it was sold under the indices Lada 1200 and Lada 1300.
Initially, the GAZ-69 was produced with might and main at the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant. The roads in the USSR were quite bad (it’s a pity that today little has changed outside the big cities), so the issue of producing a vehicle with off-road properties was quite acute. They began to actively work on their own off-road vehicle back in 1958, and the first prototypes rolled off the assembly line already in 1960. However, initially the release was limited only to special orders, and the model went to the masses only in 1972. In addition to the UAZ-469, the UAZ-460 car was also launched into the series, which was an almost complete copy of the prototype in appearance, but differed in some technical characteristics and positioning. The UAZ-460 was oriented towards agriculture and public use, while the UAZ-469 was more passable and was sharpened for army needs.
Of course, the list of the first models of domestic automobile manufacturers would not be complete without a three-axle flatbed tractor with a 6 × 4 wheel formula called KamAZ-5320 – the first vehicle that was produced under this brand. The truck cab was located exactly above the engine and leaned forward for its maintenance. Initially, the car was equipped with a diesel unit with a volume of 10.85 liters and a capacity of 210 horsepower. The gearbox had ten steps. The carrying capacity of the same model reached 8 tons, which for that time was an indicator that inspired respect. It is curious that a similar model was subsequently also produced under the index 4310. The main difference between the device was all-wheel drive, which was interesting for off-road use, as well as when used in construction work.