Once some music composer said that “There are only seven notes which compose all the music in the world. No wodner some songs sound alike”. Undoubtedly, all cars have got four wheels, so plagiarism in the automobile industry is hard to pinch. In this article we deliberately ignore a popular Soviet point of view that a steam locomotive, an airplane and the radio were not invented in Russia. All we attempt here is to make a small digression into the history of Soviet automobile industry in order to identify its origins and its development.
A Russian philosopher Vasiliy Rosanov once noted that in Russia every single case of wealth originates from theft or extortion. Historically, the economy of the Russian Empire before the 1917 was so deeply integrated into the European economy that the exchange of ideas, something, which now would have been hugely copyrighted, was very common. Like, in 1901 in St Petersburg the carriage factory Freze and the Riga bicycle factory Leitner successfully assembled the French oil engines De Dion Buton as part of Russian carriages. Another factory Aksai in Rostov-on-Don purchased the license for the production of the American Oldsmobile Carved Dash. In 1906 a Russian engineer Boris Lutskoy organised the assembling of Mercedes cars for the Russian market. At last, the main pride of Russia – the automobile Russo-Balt — was made from foreign parts – the chassis with four-cylinder engine was adopted from a Belgian company with a Swiss name Fondu.
The October revolution of 1917 created a popular in Russia myth that all things have been invented in, well, Russia. The reasons for that would be merely ideological: the new born country needed new morale. According to an old Soviet joke, even “elephants come from Russia”. The most progressive country in the World, as coined by the revolutionary communists, should strike the rest of the world with advanced technologies, the propaganda advised. In order to create the real Soviet cars, the communists established the Research Automobile Laboratory (later known as NAMI). The very first Soviet motor car NAMI-1 was actually a graduation project by a young engineer Konstantin Sharapov. The car turned out to be so successful that it was put into production right away. Later, in 1979, Konstantin confessed to copying the charts for NAMI-1 off the Czech Tatra-11.
During the period from 1927 to 1930, the factory assembled 403 NAMI-1 models. Despite all its advantages, this car was not planned for the mass production. At the same time, any manager of the robust mind realised that the Soviet Industrialisation needed mass production. The Soviet Russia wanted giant factories, but what would be the product?
In 1929 the USA was stricken by a severe economic crisis. As the result of this crisis, the production of Chevrolet halved, the production of Ford dropped three times! Despite the absence of diplomatic relations between the USSR and the USA, both Chevrolet and Ford offered their production to the Soviet government. No need to guess, shortly afterward the awfully cracked Russian roads were voyaged by the dazzling American beauties of all kinds. The long rally was won by Ford A and, consequently, this car was put into production in the USSR.
The first automobiles under the brand GAZ left the factory in December, 1932. Quite rapidly these cars got nicknamed as “Soviet Fords”. Even the logo was very similar – blue oval with the brand GAZ instead of Ford. The car was not a success, however, as the open body and the lack of boot turned to be its main downsides. Within 5 years the new car GAZ M1 replaced the old model. Now the body was copied from 1934 model of Ford, although the model was adapted to suit the severe Russian conditions. The front suspension was based on two springs rather than on one, unlike in the American version, and the wheels were of a different shape. Later on, the design charts for GAZ M1 were utilised for almost all Soviet-made cars.
To be contunied. Stay tuned.Source: RealUSSR.com