12 Soviet Cars: History of the Copy-and-Paste Industry — Part 2 of 3

Soviet Cars: History of the Copy-and-Paste Industry — Part 2 of 3

Posted on September 8, 2009 by team


In early 1930s with­out any licens­ing arrange­ments the Soviet engi­neers copied the first lim­ou­sine car  for the Com­mu­nist party exec­u­tives. In 1932 six lim­ou­sines were copied off the Amer­i­can Buick 90L. How­ever,  later the fac­tory pro­duc­tion line was switched to pro­duc­ing cater­pil­lar tractors,so the lim­ou­sine busi­ness was shifted to Moscow Stalin Factory.

ZIS-101

ZIS-101

The car, based on the engine of the Buick and the body copied off the Cadil­lac, was given another non-poetic name, ZIS — 101.  It also had Buick radi­a­tor bars.

By the begin­ning of the Sec­ond World War there were three huge car fac­to­ries in the USSR.  Despite the fact that the USSR already had its own highly edu­cated and tal­ented engi­neers,  the very first post-war lim­ou­sine ZIS-110 was also a copy of an obso­lete Amer­i­can car.   When mak­ing a deci­sion about the launch of a new car, the engi­neers selected four mod­els – Packard 180, Packard Clip­per, Cadil­lac 75 and Cadil­lac 63.   Stalin him­self was to make the deci­sion, and he picked the Packard 180.

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Soviet Car

Chaika

In August 1945 the Soviet gov­ern­ment issued a decree on the open­ing the Moscow Fac­tory of Small Capac­ity Cars.   The same decree estab­lished the tech­ni­cal fea­tures of the new car as well as the com­mence­ment dates for the pro­duc­tion lines.   The pat­terns for the new car were also selected by Stalin.  The Soviet leader liked the pre-war Ger­man Opel Cadette.  In order to please Stalin, the Soviet engi­neers urgently found sev­eral tro­phy C-38.   The cars were dis­man­tled and the designs of the parts were sketched.  The first five engines were made by Novem­ber 1946 and the cars were on the road by the end of the same year.  Inter­est­ingly enough, thenext gen­er­a­tion of cars under the brand “Moskvich” was made on the basis of Amer­i­can Ford Pre­fect and Ford Tau­rus rather than the Ger­man range.   The sam­ples of those cars were pur­chased abroad.

Cloned Soviet cars - 2

The denounce­ment of the Stalin cult and a new seven-years plan to develop the Soviet econ­omy for the period of 1959 – 1965 had  inspired the Soviet engi­neers to cre­ate more cars.  The flag­man cars of that time were the ZIL-111 and GAZ-13 “Chaika” devel­oped after the trial runs of best Amer­i­can exec­u­tives cars.  The ambi­tions towards the rapidly chang­ing Amer­i­can fash­ion had made the ZIL-111 obso­lete by the begin­ning of 1960s.   That is why this car was later redesigned in the Cadil­lac style of 1960 – 1961.  Nev­er­the­less, the pro­duc­tion of GAZ-13 “Chaika” was con­tin­ued with­out any changes in its design till the 1979.


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12 Responses to “Soviet Cars: History of the Copy-and-Paste Industry — Part 2 of 3”

  1. FOCU5 says:

    FIRST!!!!!?!?!!

  2. pimp says:

    I love riding a sugar stick.

  3. Richard S. says:

    I thought owning a car was frowned upon by the Soviet government. On modest salaries, how can a Russian peasant own one? Did many peasants own cars? If not, who drove them?

  4. K says:

    Way to compare apples and ceiling fans there Kirov.

    The model T was ancient cave technology and the Volga was basically a tank, nothing could scratch it.

    • KBR says:

      Hey there is nothing wrong with Volga. If you were lucky, you could put an engine of a mercedes Benz (diesel) and you had a superb car. Even without MB engine it was a good car.

      And YES it was possible to get a MB-engine in Communist times, how I know? Because my uncle had such Volga with MB during the mid-80ties.

      Second I do not understand that problem USA vs. USSR car, today SEAT, VW and Ford had the same car, except the marking and logo (e.g. old model of ford galaxy).

  5. YJ says:

    Cheap ass copycats.

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  7. zax says:

    My favourite Soviet car is GAZ-14 Chaika. That one was original design, and indeed a very nice and well built car.

    • Mo says:

      The GAZ-14 was based on the GAZ-13 chaika (technically). Although the design did not directly copy any western car, it was a gathering of stolen ideas from several different western cars.

      As sad as it may sound, the Soviet Union NEVER produced a truly genuine and original car on their own… :(

      A friend of mine used to work in the NAMI (the automotive design bureau at the time of USSR), and he said that there were a lot of original designs and ideas. Unfortunately not a single one made it to mass production.

  8. Dobra Utero says:

    I would like to see the Volga marketed in America and Canada…I would buy one if it was:)

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