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Pre war cars in Russia


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Like many of us have been stuck inside now for weeks , can’t get to my cars as there at my other house so after completing as many household and garden jobs as I can find or invent to keep me sane , I have reluctantly increased my tv viewing , which I  add was very limited before this forced isolating.

i have amazon prime and have watched most series that spark an interest , we particularly like period drama and war sagas so while looking for suitable content have noticed many such series and films are Russian made and some quite watchable with sub titles . Whilst watching i obviously study the cars and although in the war or pre war series or films the Germans generally have Mercedes or gestapo in typical Citroen avant  , however  the cars used by Russians are generally American  I’ve seen model T s , many later fords , Buick’s , some speedsters which I’m not au fait enough to identify, but love. I know a few Russian makes which appeared later mainly in Cold War dramas but know nothing of their pre war manufacture , so perhaps what I’m seeing are Russian made  cars but based on western design .

So I’m asking the question of you knowable folks , was there a market for American and a few British cars in pre war Russia or is this just the Russian film industry using period correct cars without relevance to historical accuracy.

just interested 

regards

pilgrim 

 

 

 

Edited by Pilgrim65
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Thanks 1937hd45

good photos , probably those early fords I’ve seen , weren’t fords but similar Russian made , but the later thirties cars I’ve seen look remarkably like many appearing on this forum frequently.

cheers

pilgrim

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Joseph Stalin always loved Packards. His favorite was presented to him by FDR in 1935. After the war,Stalin had Packard-like limos built in Russia, called the Zis 110 and later the Zis 115. This info was gleaned from Google.I'm not an authority on the subject. Photos abound on Google images.

Going back further, Lenin had a Rolls Royce ,and even further back I've read that the first motor vehicle in Moscow was a curved dash Olds.

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5 minutes ago, J.H.Boland said:

Joseph Stalin always loved Packards. His favorite was presented to him by FDR in 1935. After the war,Stalin had Packard-like limos built in Russia, called the Zis 110 and later the Zis 115. This info was gleaned from Google.I'm not an authority on the subject. Photos abound on Google images.

Going back further, Lenin had a Rolls Royce ,and even further back I've read that the first motor vehicle in Moscow was a curved dash Olds.

The Czar loved Packards too - to the point of being one of their largest single dollar volume clients in trucks)

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Saw this car at the Ho Chi Min compound in Hanoi a couple of years ago,

It was a gift from Russia I think.

Packard like I would say.

Uncle Ho was a car guy.

IM002970.JPG

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Some great info guys , probably excuse Russian film industry a little for depicting Russian counts and top communists driving in Beutiful pre war American cars 😀 

Probably were sadly missed by car spotters ,  considering what was to come boring zil and trabants! etc ( just a personal view)

finally just want to thank contributors, interesting stuff , actually want to extend thank you to all contributors on forum who feed my interest most days .

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Major Russian motor industry began in late 20s, when GAZ (Car factory in Gorki) was founded, and they first model was GAZ - A, simply licensed version of Ford model A. Also, factory was actually built by Ford, even some American workers left USA during Great Depression to work in GAZ factory.

 

Of course, there were Russian cars before, such as Russo - Balt, but it wasn't mass production, as there were nor industrial capabilities nor real demand before forced industralization in Stalin's era.

 

Gaz A was quicly replaced by GAZ - M1, based on 1934 Ford and designed in cooperation with Ford. Another factory, ZiS, produced trucks and luxury automobiles - most of them of Russian construction, but highly influenced by American designs. Another example of such influence is Mopar Flathead Six engine, which was copied in Russia to power trucks, then shortened by two cylinders to power passenger cars, then licensed to Poland, then converted to OHV and manufactured till late 90s.

 

Those Russian pre - war cars are extremally rare nowdays - not many of them were produced and most of them was destroyed during the war. Scarce of automobiles also meant that existing ones would be used as long as possible, lacking spare parts and being repaired with those aviable (I've posted some time ago photographs of pre - war Willys after such repairs). Even nowdays You can sometimes find on Russian or Ukrainian websites abominations such as pre - war Tatra (air cooled rear engine) converted to use Volga's drivetrain.

 

As far as I know, imports of cars to Soviet Union was minimal, with few minor exceptions. First, cars imported as a examples of foreign technology, design patterns - they were not scrapped, but simply used.  Just after WWII many captured cars were taken home by Red Army officers and some were leftovers from diplomatic agendas. And, of course, lend&lease.

 

You may wonder why Russian cars were based on American designs. There were two reasons: first, both countries are simillar by natural conditions - large, with low population density, every possible climate, lacking roads and having plenty of natural resources - so machines used to fight those inconveniences ought to be similar. Another reason is that the american motor industry was simply the best and biggest in the world - and whole America was set as an example, a target to achieve by Soviet Union before Cold War.

 

Even today You can see flashback of Stalin - Ford contract from 1920s. Handbrake lever in UAZ - Classic, a 4x4 van which is still produced is the same as in Ford model A.

 

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12 hours ago, JACK M said:

Saw this car at the Ho Chi Min compound in Hanoi a couple of years ago,

It was a gift from Russia I think.

Packard like I would say.

Uncle Ho was a car guy.

IM002970.JPG

 It's a Russian ZIS

 

A "loosely termed" copy of a Packard

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3 hours ago, Ozstatman said:

 It's a Russian ZIS

 

A "loosely termed" copy of a Packard

That’s really amazing the similarities, would have certainly fooled  me if I glimpsed in a film , I would have certainly thought packard!

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Before WWII, Russia's car industry was very underdeveloped. While there were a few early home-grown attempts (such as Russo-Balt and Lessner), none of them were mass produced. Besides those and some experimental models (such as the NAMI and the L-1), all cars made in Russia were either license built or reverse engineered(GAZ cars based on Ford, AMO trucks based on FIAT, etc. ). When those weren't enough, the Soviets simply imported foreign cars (for example, Renault taxicabs in Moscow in the 1920s). All these cars were abused and poorly repaired with all sorts of makeshift parts, and then scrapped in a thousand scrap metal drives. In addition, all vehicles were owned by the government or official organizations in those days. There was almost no private ownership, so nobody had any incentive to preserve them. Due to all these factors, pre-war cars in today's Russia are extremely rare. The few that exist are either 1930s German cars that were brought home as trophies by army officers returning from the war, or the occasional surviving GAZ M-1. Those are the cars that one usually sees in war films today. 

 

Lomakov is a well-known character. He has collected and preserved many cars that are now in his museum in Moscow. 

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On 5/3/2020 at 10:03 PM, Ozstatman said:

 It's a Russian ZIS

 

A "loosely termed" copy of a Packard

Not a "copy".  It is a Packard in everything but name.  Packard sold the dies to Russia.  They did it again in the 50s with the Tchaika

 

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It's a myth that ZIS used Packard dies. They made a copy of the Packard but translated the dimensions into the metric equivalent and made a few other changes. Parts may look the same but they are not and do not interchange. This was gone into pretty thoroughly on a Packard forum some time ago. Newer Soviet luxury cars from the fifties and up, were entirely home grown designs although the designers may have been inspired by American practice.

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When I visited the USSR back in the eighties, I made friends with a chauffeur who let me get an up close look at a Chaika sedan. It was an extremely crude copy of a 1955 or 1956 Packard. Putting it next to a real Packard would have made it clear that none of the parts were actually the same, but what surprised me how shamelessly they copied the details such as the instrument panel.

 

In Kalinin (now called Tver) I was surprised to see a 1932 Ford coming up the street. It was in very nice condition and seemed to be running well. Close up, I could see that it was a GAZ, one of the cars that was built when Ford built a plant there in the thirties. Since that area was devastated in World War II, it was surprising that that car survived the war. 

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Re the 1932 ford above 

watching a Russian war series I noticed what thought to be a 1932 ford 8 , particularly noticed as was my fathers first car and remember trips in it, but your probably right it could have been a Gaz 

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9 hours ago, dictator27 said:

Not a "copy".  It is a Packard in everything but name.  Packard sold the dies to Russia.  They did it again in the 50s with the Tchaika

 

Definitely not.  I have seen a Chaika up close, and the only thing I saw that appeared to be a direct copy were the power window switches.   

 

The most obvious difference is the greenhouse.  The Chaika was a long wheelbase 8-passenger sedan which was not a combination of a four door sedan coupled with the rear half of a two door sedan as Packard's limousine/8 passenger sedan was.  The Chaika was designed to be an 8 passenger car from its inception.  The Chaika has thicker frames around the windows on the doors, and the A-pillar was not as vertical as it was with Packard. 

 

One can bet if there really was a sale of anything to the Soviet car industry by Studebaker-Packard at the time, it would be in the still-extant board meeting minutes.

 

Craig

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