No information from the factory archives about this model has been found at the moment, so you will have to navigate its history exclusively from external sources - photographs and articles in the press.
An Intourist advertising poster depicted one of the ZIS-102 experimental designs on the Georgian Military Highway An Intourist advertising poster depicted one of the ZIS-102 experimental designs on the Georgian Military Highway
The first instance of the ZIS-102 chaise with the number "sample 01-21" appeared on Moscow streets in the spring of 1938. A picture of the event was taken at the Bolshoi Theater. All people are warmly dressed. This is important because the exact date of manufacture of the first prototype is still unknown. The sources indicate either the end of 1937, or the beginning of 1938 … By that time, the ZIS-101 limousine was in production for more than a year - the first copies were collected in November 1936, on the anniversary of the revolution. The delayed appearance of an open car can be explained by the fact that the plant did not fulfill the plan for the production of ZIS-5 trucks, and there were problems with the limo: the wooden frame of the body creaked and loosened, the car did not accelerate well, it smelled of gasoline in the passenger compartment, there were problems with the gearbox, even the electric clock stopped …
By type of best samples
Perhaps that is why the launch of the chaise in production was not timed to coincide with anniversary dates and holidays. Flipping through the old magazines “Driving”, you can follow the whole process. In the double issue 15-16 for 1938, the first photo of the ZIS-102 appears (the car was captured on Novinsky Boulevard, but the image is from the same series as the photo from the Bolshoi Theater). The magazine was published twice a month before the war, No. 15–16 was August 1938, and it was three or four months from the issue of the press to publication. In the next issue, it is reported that the plant “has begun production of open ZA-102 phaetons”, and states that their main purpose is “for the southern regions of the country”.
Driving Magazine, 1939/5
Covers of the May and June issues of the magazine “Behind the wheel” for 1939 with the image of the best car of the Country of the Soviets - ZIS-102 chaise Covers of the May and June issues of the magazine “Behind the wheel” for 1939 with the image of the best car of the Country of the Soviets - the ZIS-102 phaeton
Driving Magazine, 1939/6
Almost a year passed, no one wrote about the phaeton. In May 1939, the ZIS-102, along with the ZIS-101, decorated the cover of the festive issue. The appearance of the car is interesting - it has a sloping radiator lining, as in an experimental sample, and doors that open wide open, like in a limousine. The artist depicted the "one hundred and second" is very arbitrary. In the same issue, there is an article “New ZIS cars” with a story about an open model: “This is an elegant well-trimmed phaeton with a beautiful streamlined body shape. The ZIS-102 radiator casing is designed according to the type of the best automobiles manufactured by American companies in 1939. The front seats are protected by windshields. The tarpaulin awning of the car easily develops ". And again it is reported that "the car factory began to produce the first batch of ZIS-102 cars, while at the same time beginning preparations for their mass production." On the cover of the next issue there was already a drawing of the model, which was planned to be mass-produced - it took the whole year to create it.
Doors of a body type chaise equipped with removable side panels … Doors of a body type chaise equipped with removable side panels …
… and the half-circle vents were pulled out of the doorway … and the semi-circle vents were pulled out of the door
The car in the form as on the cover did not appear immediately. In the photo of the experimental cars, you can see two body styles - a convertible and a chaise. At the first door the glass with frames fell down, at the second there were attached sidewalls with celluloid windows, and the air vents “left” the doorways. The choice fell on the phaeton - in the final version, he found a pivoting window, as well as a low windshield. The radiator lining was borrowed from the American Buick 1938 model year. On the open ZIS, such a rounded hood appeared on the open version much earlier than on the limousine. On the hand-drawn cover of the 13th issue for 1939, the ZIS-101 is depicted with a sloping facing, and the 102nd with a rounded one.
Variant with a cabriolet body - full glass with frames, there are no windows at the level of the rear seats Variant with a cabriolet body - full glass with frames, there are no windows at the level of the rear seats
But the mass production of ZIS-102 could not be mastered: there was not enough production capacity. Due to the lack of a rigid roof at the 102nd, it was necessary to rework the entire body frame, which could only be assembled manually. For the chaise, new stamps were required, as well as equipment for the production of the awning mechanism. Until now, there is no exact information on the number of ZIS-102 collected - from several copies to a batch of 20 cars.
“Passenger cars - ZIS-102 and 6-cylinder GAZ-11 phaetons, designed for operation in the southern regions of the country, delight the audience,” wrote Za Rulem magazine in a report on the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition “Cars - ZIS-102 and 6- Phaetons” GAZ-11 cylinder, designed for operation in the southern regions of the country, delight viewers,”wrote the magazine“Behind the Wheel”in a report on VSHV
Scheme of the ZIS-102 chaise: pivoting windows, three sidewalls with celluloid windows, a space for a folded awning and its mechanism Scheme of the ZIS-102 chaise: pivoting windows, three sidewalls with celluloid windows, a space for a folded tent, space for a folded tent and its mechanism
Kovalenok "gets" everyone
But the 102nd became famous in motorsport. In the summer of 1940, speed races were organized on the new Moscow-Minsk highway, in which only Soviet cars participated. So, at the opening of the sports season, the driver of the Narkomfin automobile depot M. Kurdinov, who was driving the usual serial ZIS-101 limousine, covered a kilometer from a run in 32.25 seconds - this is a speed of 111.627 km / h. In July, the indicator improved to 114 km / h - this average speed ZIS-101 developed on a 100-kilometer stretch of highway. Along with limousines, one ZIS-102 participated in the race. “The handsome ZIS-102 takes the fifth start,” wrote the magazine “Behind the Wheel”. - The open car body is tightly tightened with a cover. At the wheel - Dynamo A. Kovalenok, next to him - mechanic P. Drobikov. Already at half the distance Kovalenok “gets” all those who have gone before him. 50 km covered in 25 minutes 53.94 seconds. A new all-Union record for this distance. Masterfully turning on the fiftieth kilometer, the driver Kovalenok continues the rapid movement to the finish line. The checkered starter flag has flown up! ZIS-102 flew 100 km in 51 minutes 34.7 seconds. The average speed is 116.327 km per hour.” So Kovalenok and Drobikov became the champions of Moscow in motorsport, leaving behind ZIS-101. “The beginning is promising!” - voices are heard. “Two All-Union Records in the First Hour of the Competition!” - from the same report in the magazine “Behind the Wheel” No. 13-14 for 1940.
Photos from Driving # 13-14 for 1940: racers driver Kovalenok and mechanic Drobikov on Minsk highway set the first ZIS-102 speed record at 116.327 km / h Photo from Driving No. 13-14 for 1940: racers Kovalenok driver and mechanic Drobikov on Minsk highway set the first ZIS-102 speed record - 116.327 km / h
New Chaise Records
In issue 21 for the same year, you can find information on new phaeton records at a distance of one kilometer from the course - 153 km / h. In the same race, which took place on the 43rd kilometer of the Minsk highway, the ZIS-101A limousine accelerated to 142 km / h. Aluminum pistons appeared in the engine, a new MKZ-L2 carburetor of the Stromberg type was installed. Power increased from 90 to 116 hp. In a small note about the new All-Union records, a photo of the ZIS-102 with the space stretched out by matter behind the front seats, side panels on the front doors and rear wheel guards is also given.
In September 1940, the ZIS-102 became the fastest passenger car (not sports) in the USSR, ahead of the 6-cylinder GAZ-11-73 by 2 km / h. In September 1940, the ZIS-102 became the fastest passenger car (not sports). car in the USSR, ahead of the 6-cylinder GAZ-11-73 at 2 km / h
But even such a phaeton is no longer the fastest - the ZIS-101-Sport roadster came to first place, accelerating to 162.4 km / h. However, it was "one hundred and second" that took part in almost all parades on Red Square, and also exhibited in the pavilion "Engineering" at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. Perhaps he had an even brighter future, but the war began, and the production of passenger models was curtailed.
From the “Father of the Nations” to the Pope
The post-war history of the ZIS-102 is no longer so eventful. The main one is the parade of athletes on August 12, 1945 - in the album dedicated to this event, you can see a group of comrades in white touring the phaeton rows of athletic youth dressed in national costumes of the Soviet republics. Perhaps the "one hundred and second" participated in other parades on Red Square, but there were no pictures left. In addition, in the late 40s, open versions of the post-war ZIS-110 limousine appeared, which since 1953 changed horses at the November military parade on the anniversary of the October Revolution. ZIS-102 was already considered obsolete.
The fate of a small number of manufactured copies remains unknown - not a single ZIS-102 is preserved. Perhaps they were scrapped, or maybe sent for operation to the "southern regions", as planned, where they worked "to the last." All attempts to find one of the rarest models of the Soviet automobile industry are unsuccessful, which, however, is not surprising - for search engines the problem is to find not only the ZIS-102, but even the complete ZIS-101 with its own engine. And "one hundred and second" and completely sank into the water. The only "end" in the history of the model can be the bike that one of the ZIS-102 units was sent from Moscow to the Vatican before the war as a gift to the Pope from the "father of the peoples." One of the Moscow collectors of antique cars, a native of the Soviet nomenclature family, liked to tell the story back in the 70s. But even if this story finds documentary evidence, not to mention the presence of the car in the Vatican’s garage, we will witness a real miracle.