Video: How capitalists influenced the Soviet auto industry
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
The auto industry in the Soviet Union has always been like a lame horse: the lag behind world trends in this area was great. On the one hand, this is strange, because our engineering staff has always been first-class. On the other hand, the capitalists' auto industry was in charge of the market, but we didn’t have a market as such: most of the cars were sold to state organizations. Therefore, copying in such a situation was much easier than inventing something new.
The history of borrowing in our country began innocuously enough. Party officials quickly realized that there was no need to reinvent the wheel, as well as the assembly line and the first mass car, if Henry Ford had already done it for them.
On this occasion, in 1929, the domestic government quite officially purchased in the States a pack of engineering documentation and related equipment for the production of a licensed copy of the Ford Model A. Production was established by the end of 1933, when Model A had long been discontinued in America.
This did not prevent GAZ-A from becoming the first and devilishly popular mass car: in four years of production, 42,000 cars were produced - far from Ford's millionth circulation, but for our country a huge figure.
Further more. When the GAZ-A model was already completely outdated, even in its native open spaces, they decided to proceed according to the worked out scheme. Model "A" was replaced by GAZ M-1 - a licensed variation on the theme of Ford Model B. Under the hood, there is a reliable and unpretentious "four", a much more suitable all-metal body in our latitudes, ease of repair and maintenance … As a result, the circulation is almost 63 000 cars.
In the post-war years in the Soviet Union, there was a need for a mass car available for individual use. Rumor has it that Stalin himself insisted that Opel Kadett, which he liked before the war, should become one. Moreover, the secretary general himself introduced a ban on any changes in the design before putting the car on the conveyor.
No licenses or consultations from the development plant: Soviet engineers simply took a heap of Opels that remained in the vast expanses of our immense after World War II, they thoroughly studied everything, weighed and redrawn everything.
And what you wanted - the Opel plant in Rüsselheim was destroyed by the allies, no project documentation for the car remained. So in 1946, the "Moskvich-400" came off the assembly line of the Small Car Plant (ZMA), in the common people it was just "Moskvich", because the plant did not produce other models at that time.
The need for more modern cars in the USSR grew along with the ingenuity of NAMI officials and engineers. The "400th" quickly began to need an upgrade, for which Fiat 1100, Lancia Aurellia, Simca Aronde, Ford Consul, Ford Taunus and even Citroen 2CV were purchased in the West. This cost the government a lot cheaper than buying a license, which the Soviets could not yet afford.
True, none of them served as a prototype in their pure form, but each was studied up and down. As a result of the joint efforts of the designers of GAZ (at the enterprise they were working hard on the creation of the GAZ-21 in parallel) and the ZMA turned out to be not the most advanced against the background of Western counterparts, but quite modern in the USSR "Moskvich-402", without exaggeration, the younger brother of the first "Volga".
In the USSR, not only mass cars were copied. Stalin doted on the Packards, but Joseph Vissarionovich's drive in an American car was somehow not in his hands. So a group of ZIS engineers was instructed to make their own executive-class passenger car, and they were told to take the Packard 160 as the basis.
Moreover, Stalin himself supervised the implementation of the project. As a result, the 1st State Automobile Plant named after Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin in 1945 released the ZIS-110, the small-scale production of which was curtailed only 16 years later.
In 1959, the Gorky Automobile Plant decided to release its own limousine. However, it turned out to be Packard again. Ardent patriots are still shouting, they say, our first "Seagull" (GAZ-13) has nothing to do with Packard Patrician, they say, everything is original, nothing borrowed.
But even the old-timers of GAZ confirm that the American limousines purchased by US at that time were closely studied by both Soviet engineers and designers, which of course affected the model.
In the late 1950s, the USSR was in dire need of a people's car, because the "four hundredth" was already removed from production, and its successor "four hundred and second" was too good and dear to the common proletariat.
So the engineers started to create the next minicar. And then again he helped NAMI with his huge park of Western technology and specialists who ate the dog on borrowings. From a long list of initial contenders, the Fiat 600 was chosen as the perfect role model with some refinements.
The result was the Soviet people's car ZAZ-965, which was produced at the Zaporozhye plant "Kommunar", which previously produced agricultural machinery. Despite many design flaws, the car was very popular: from 1962 to 1969, 322,166 cars of all modifications were produced.
In the 1960s, the Soviet auto industry was already strong enough, but not enough to build a completely own car. Therefore, in the summer of 1966 in Moscow, a general agreement was signed between the Italian company Fiat and the Soviet "Vneshtorg" on scientific and technical cooperation in the development of passenger cars.
As part of the agreement, an automobile plant was built for the production of two models, which would later be called VAZ-2101 and VAZ-2103. The Fiat 124 was taken as a basis, in the design of which about 800 changes were made to adapt the car to operation in the vastness of the USSR.
The engineering staff of the Moscow AZLK in the 1970s worked hard to create an intermediate model between the Togliatti Zhiguli and Volga. But personnel reshuffles did not allow them to show themselves: "Minavtoprom" literally demanded to copy the Franco-American model Simca 1308.
The design team could not move away from the humiliating order for a long time, despite the fact that at that time they had several suitable prototypes at once. Moreover, the appearance of the original source was simplified as much as possible, and many elements of the decor had to be abandoned. This is how the long-suffering "Moskvich-2141" appeared - in general, not the worst, but hopelessly outdated hatchback, produced from 1986 to 1998, and even exported.
However, one should not think that all Soviet cars were copied from Western counterparts. On the contrary, the progenitor of the most popular class of cars in the world - crossovers - was the old Niva (now Lada 4x4), but this is a completely different story.
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As part of the agreement on the licensed release of FIAT 124, the USSR paid the Italian side not only with currency, but also with industrial materials