History of a Muscovite 400. His biography would be enough for a novel. He is the hero of many stories - funny and sad, sometimes mysterious, sometimes with a good ending …
It picks up speed surprisingly easily, leaving behind a romantic plume of smoke. On throttle release, especially in second gear, the transmission whines forcefully, as if urging: hurry up! It seems (despite the fact that there is only 23 hp under the hood), we with the "Moskvich" decently dispersed! In fact … we barely got 50 km / h. The concept of "fast" for this car is completely different than for modern ones. Anyway, "Moskvich" got used to a different passage of time.
Perhaps, "Moskvich-400" (and later 401st) is one of the most popular auto-heroes of Soviet cinema. Since we had been driving these cars for decades, we filmed the same amount. "Caution, grandma!" and "Big family", "She loves you!" and the painting "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" that appeared almost a quarter of a century later. "Muscovite" often played comic roles: he was capricious with careless owners, or even fell apart with excessively hot ones. But in some films, on the contrary, he worked for the benefit of several generations of the same family, since he was in hands as hardworking as himself.
The popularity of this "Moskvich" is understandable. After all, he was the first in the country and the only one really popular at that time. In 1947, when cars went on sale, even those who could not even dream of paying 9,000 rubles for a car drove to the car shop on Bakuninskaya in Moscow, and then to Krasnoarmeiskaya in Kiev. Just looking at it, touching it with your hand is great! This means that life in a country ravaged by war, poorly dressed and not even very well fed is getting better! Newspapers reported that among the first buyers of "Muscovites" were academicians V. Zelenin and A. Abrikosov, Hero of the Soviet Union polar explorer E. Krenkel, writers L. Sobolev and S. Marshak, actor I. Bersenev. But the cars were bought not only by famous people. "Muscovites" appeared in the families of engineers and even skilled workers. Well, or young scientists, whose works were only spoken about in whispers.
What a joy it is - your own car! Let it be like this: without a stove, with weak windshield wipers, the speed of which depended on the engine speed (vacuum drive!), With a ventilation system that includes only the front vents.
For the operation of "Moskvich" in frosts below minus 15? C, the instruction advised to drain off not only water, but also oil at night. And in the morning, return it to the engine warm. And, of course, fill the cooling system with boiling water. It is not surprising that among private traders in winter, only the most loyal to the steering wheel dared to ride!
Now the car seems insanely cramped: the driver and passenger on the right, then laughing, then cursing, push their elbows. The rear is about the same, and the trunk with access only from the salon is a parody of the current ones. But families went to the dacha and even to the south, packing a hump of belongings on the roof.
The "Muscovite" is surprisingly easy to manage, especially considering that it is based on a 1938 model. The pedals, the steering wheel, the gear lever, which is similar in slenderness to a large ballpoint pen and does not at all dispose to sudden movements, do not require much effort. The car easily (to the best of its horsepower, of course!) Accelerates, brakes quite confidently. In general, the 400 was quite suitable for private traders, among whom were mostly unskilled drivers, sometimes also alienated from the mundane by thoughts of science or art.
SECRETS OF SAKSON COURT
Many people knew that Moskvich-400 was a copy of the pre-war Opel-Cadet. After all, there were a lot of the same, but German cars in the variegated post-war park. However, it was unsafe to speculate about the origin of the Soviet model in those years.
Already in post-Stalinist times, they began to write that stamps for production and documentation were taken out of Germany for reparations. This is not entirely accurate. They took it out, but the drawings and stamps created after the war. They were developed by German specialists in several design bureaus in Germany under the guidance of engineers who came from the USSR. Neither stamps nor documentation (at least a complete set) have survived for the Opel-Cadet. Either they were killed during the bombing, or they were deliberately destroyed. Body stamps were made according to samples in the Saxon town of Schwarzenberg. At the same time, several modifications of the future Moskvich were developed (including a 500 mm longer version for a taxi), none of which became serial. Those that were produced at ZMA were created already in Moscow. Details about the birth of "Moskvich" were kept for many years in the archives of the SVAG (Soviet military administration in Germany), which controlled, among other things, all scientific and technical activities in the Soviet zone of occupation. Even the participants in the events hid this story for many years. Why - from the current position, it is absolutely incomprehensible. The country devastated by the war had the right to reparations, including in this form. But the leaders of the USSR, apparently, believed that the winners should not use the intellectual labor of the defeated. Sending them to a construction site is another matter.
AND TEKLI, WHERE YOU NEED, CHANNELS
In 1952, when this "Moskvich" was born, the model was already well known and respected throughout the vast USSR. The country struggled to erase the traces of war, build upward and outward. Majestic skyscrapers were pulled into the sky, destroyed cities were restored, the Volga-Don Canal was opened - to the delight of an ever-growing army of lovers of motor ship recreation. But rest is rest, and a new war with the imperialists is not excluded, so the citizens of the USSR prepared tirelessly for it. Just in the fall of 1952, the Tu-95 strategic bomber appeared, capable of launching the very "product" on a potential enemy, for the development of which even young scientists received awards that allowed them to buy the coveted Moskvich.
The first car joys - and, of course, the first worries. It's great to go with your family in your own car in good weather! By the way, the German suspension - the front "Dubonnet", combining shock absorbers and elastic elements in one body, the rear longitudinal springs - very suitable for Soviet roads. "Moskvich" and today goes smoothly, smoothing holes and potholes. The flip side of this feature is "swimming" at high speed, in inept hands fraught with overturning. And there is nothing to indulge in! Normal road speed is eighty kilometers. Especially in late autumn: the blowing in the slotted machine, despite the recent high-quality restoration, is quite sensitive.
And all the same, warmth and coziness blows from the salon! This "Moskvich" is like an old teddy bear in the world of today's cartoon freaks and computer games.
FOR LABOR SERVICES
Those who made money on "Moskvich", as a rule, gradually learned the wisdom of the difficult automotive business. The car, although it looked kind and non-aggressive, did not believe in tears and was not friends with squishies. A true friend simply had to lubricate and wash, adjust and clean himself. And then repair, sort out, and preferably also weld and paint. After all, the concept of “service” is something completely different, not seen by “Muscovites” and their first masters of life. But in the hardworking hands, the little car worked diligently for decades, becoming a witness to the growing up, and often aging of the owner. True, many candidates of sciences became doctors and transplanted into newer "Muscovites", and even "Volga". But the 400s and 401s passed into the hands of children and grandchildren.
This is fate! The first time he was born in fascist Germany, the second - in the Stalinist USSR. He lived on the conveyor until the Khrushchev thaw. And he continued to work (albeit, as a rule, with more modern motors and chassis) - was not considered a rarity - until the 1980s!
Today passers-by smile at him - not a dude, not a show-off, but a modest worker - perhaps even happier than 60 years ago. True, for this he again needed skillful, qualified hands. Today, bringing such a car to its original condition is still a job! After all, "Moskvich" still loves hardworking and does not believe in tears.
"Moskvich-400" - a copy of "Opel-Cadet" has been mass-produced - ZMA (Small Car Plant, later AZLK) since 1947. In addition to the sedan with the factory designation 400-420, they made a van with a wooden cargo compartment "Moskvich-400-422", a convertible "Moskvich-400-420A" and the so-called commercial chassis for the installation of specialized bodies. We also developed prototypes of station wagons and pickups. The cars were equipped with a 1.1 liter engine with a capacity of 23 hp. Since 1954, they have been producing an upgraded version with a 26-horsepower engine - "Moskvich-401". A small number of cars in 1955 and equipped with a unit "Moskvich-402" with a capacity of 30 hp. Until 1956, a little more than 216 thousand "Muscovites" models 400 and 401 were built.