Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moskvitch-400. The Soviet car with German roots…

The production of Moskvitch-400 started soon after the end of World War II. It became the first mass-production car in the USSR available to all classes of soviet society. The design of Moskvitch-400 was copied from German Opel Kadett K38. Al the necessary technological equipment was taken from Opel factory in Rüsselsheim, and only the stamps on the doors were developed in Moscow. Some believe that the stamps on the back doors were lost during the transportation from Germany and were to be designed anew. But the K 38 was also produced in two-door modification and therefore it is reasonable to assume that the stamps on the doors were taken from it.


There is an interesting story about why Moskvitch-400 was produced in four-door-body modification:
When Stalin was at the factory to test the car, he sat next to the driver and said to Vasily Tahtarov, the director of the factory, ‘You also get in the car, dear director’, he turned pale and was about to collapse. He could not even imagine saying, ‘Comrade Stalin, would you, please, get out of the car for a minute, so I can fold the seat and take my place in the back’.  But luckily for him, the leader was in a good mood that day. Stalin clumsily got out of the cramped car and said discontentedly,’ make it easy for people’, and left. So the body was redesigned and got four doors.


The prewar Kadett produced in 1938 had a modern design and was well adapted for mass production. This allowed, on December 4, 1946, to successfully assemble the first Moskvitch-400 in the USSR.
The car had a frameless body construction, independent suspension of the front wheels and hydraulic braking system. The four-cylinder flat-head engine with a displacement of 1074 cc. was able to produce 23 HP at 3600 RPM.  The low compression (5.8) allowed the use of low-octane petrol A-66. The top speed reached 97km/h. In the period 1946 to 1956, there were produced 247439 units of this car.
The red Moskvitch-400 shown in photos is a production of 1950. It belongs to Arshak Piloyan, who acquired the car from an Azerbaijani refugee. The car was almost destroyed as he bought it, so immense effort had to be put into making it look as it does now.