The idea of building an unprecedented-scale automobile plant was born at the very top. Its initiator was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR A. N. Kosygin, supported by Brezhnev himself. The amount of money not provided with goods was growing in the country, and a mass car could become a necessary lifesaver: citizens would willingly give their savings for it. In addition, a modern car that was in demand abroad was supposed to improve the export position of a country that bought more for foreign currency than it sold.
The search for partners was without too much publicity. Even the KGB was involved in this activity, in particular L. Kolosov, the correspondent of Izvestia in Italy, and part-time employee of the all-powerful committee. The choice fell on the FIAT concern - he proposed the most favorable conditions. In Italy, with its traditionally strong left-wing movement, a general strike went on at that time, and the contract with the Soviets greatly helped to straighten the financial position of the concern. In the USSR, of course, they also took into account that in 1966 the FIAT-124 became the car of the year in Europe.
The Soviet delegation inspects the FIAT lineup, 1966
The Soviet delegation inspects the FIAT lineup, 1966. The Soviet delegation inspects the FIAT lineup, 1966.
The general agreement was signed on August 8 of the same year in Moscow. Signatures were signed by FIAT Head Vittorio Valletta and USSR Minister of Automotive Industry A. M. Tarasov. They decided to build a plant on the banks of the Volga (the presence of a river solved many transport problems) in the young city of Togliatti. Previously, Stavropol-on-Volga was partially flooded after the construction of the hydroelectric power station, but the city was built almost anew under the auto giant. One of the reasons for choosing the site was precisely the presence of powerful construction organizations.
Soon, several FIAT-124 vehicles were brought to the USSR, which went to comprehensive tests. They were driven across the country, from the Crimea to Vorkuta, where, of course, they were transported by rail. Work was carried out at the unfinished Dmitrovsky training ground. As a result, the FIAT-124R (R means Russia) began to be born, markedly different from the standard “Italian”.
Externally, the VAZ-2101 differed from FIAT only in more massive fangs of bumpers, recessed door handles and, of course, emblems. But the filling of the Soviet car was in many ways different.
In the early 1970s, the VAZ-2101 was a completely modern car: disc brakes at the front, a spring rear suspension, and an overhead engine
In the early 1970s, the VAZ-2101 was a completely modern car: disc brakes at the front, a spring rear suspension, and an overhead engine. In the early 1970s, the VAZ-2101 was a completely modern car: disc brakes at the front, a spring rear suspension, and an overhead engine.
FIAT-124 was not a technical revelation in the mid-1960s. The classic layout, the dependent rear suspension, four-speed gearbox are no better than most competitors. The engine with the lower camshaft was also in line with the trends that were familiar to the mass car of those years. But the VAZ-2101 engine, although it retained the working volume of the Fiat engine, received a different center distance and the upper camshaft in the head of the block - the Soviet delegation insisted on this innovation when it visited Italian factories and noted that FIAT was actively developing motors with upper shafts.
This innovation will then strongly fall back on the reputation of VAZ cars, when the camshafts begin to massively fail - the problem will be solved by no means in one year. In the meantime, the design of the tender 124th is actively being processed under the harsh Soviet life. The machine’s operating conditions were assumed to be harsh, so the diameter of the clutch plate was increased from 182 to 220 mm, the gearbox was redesigned, the rear suspension was changed, and the shock absorbers were “removed” from the springs to facilitate their subsequent replacement.
The VAZ-2101 motor was noticeably different from the Fiat one and for a long time was considered reliable and unpretentious
The VAZ-2101 motor was noticeably different from the Fiat one and for a long time was considered reliable and unpretentious. The VAZ-2101 motor was noticeably different from the Fiat one and for a long time was considered reliable and unpretentious.
Discarded disc brakes at the rear, because on the roads of the Soviet hinterland they were very dirty and quickly wore out. By the way, later, the FIAT on the descendants of the 124th returned to the rear drum brakes. Reinforced ball bearings, springs, in many places - the body. A hole for the crank appeared in the front bumper (it was again abandoned starting with the VAZ-2105), and towing eyes under both bumpers.
In the 1970s, the VAZ-2101 and its followers were quite competitive even in the Western European market. Indeed, in principle, buyers received the well-known FIAT at a significantly lower price - dumping was the basis for the success of Soviet cars from the very first years of export abroad. In the socialist countries, the Zhiguli were generally in short supply - say, in the GDR, in order to get the coveted car, they had to stand in line for more than ten years.
Advertising "Lada" from a French magazine in the early 1970s
Advertising "Lada" from a French magazine in the early 1970s. Advertising "Lada" from a French magazine in the early 1970s.
A lot of the novelties of automotive technology in the USSR for the first time massively appeared on the Zhiguli. Prior to the VAZ-2101, disc brakes were installed only on passenger ZILs. In 1972, a vacuum brake booster, tachometer, and an electric clock were installed on the VAZ-2103. In 1975, the "six" appeared front head restraints. In 1980, on the VAZ-2105 - the first "Zhiguli" with completely new (except for the roof) body panels - a belt-driven engine, block headlights, combined with parking lights and direction indicators. Two years later, the VAZ-2107 appeared with anatomical seats equipped with integrated head restraints.
In addition to the base engine with a volume of 1.2 liters, versions 1.3 were later released; 1.5 and 1.6 liters, differing in diameter and stroke. In the 1980s, a five-speed gearbox appeared on the Zhiguli. VAZ was the first in the USSR, albeit on a small scale, to produce modifications with single injection (VAZ-21073) and diesel (VAZ-21045).
The debut of the VAZ-2101 at the rally "Tour of Europe" in 1971 was successful
The debut of the VAZ-2101 at the rally "Tour of Europe" in 1971 was successful. The debut of the VAZ-2101 at the rally "Tour of Europe" in 1971 was successful.
But by the end of the second decade of production, “Lada” against the background of classmates looked like aliens from a long era. The interior is cramped, the engine power is low, the brakes are weak. Carburetor engines did not meet stricter environmental standards. All this was exacerbated by a decrease in the quality of components and assembly.
The last "Lada-2107" (the name "Zhiguli" quietly went out of use), the production of which was discontinued in Togliatti this summer (however, it, like the VAZ-2104, will be assembled in Izhevsk for a couple of years), retained the main features of distant ancestors. Main difference: 73 hp injection engine at 5300 rpm (the carburetor version developed 77 hp at 5600 rpm), which meets Euro-3 standards. In all other respects, this was no longer the model whose owners were less fortunate in the early 1980s looked enviously sighing. During post-perestroika modernizations and optimizations, it was gradually simplified in detail and not only. In recent years, the differences between the fifth and seventh models have been reduced mainly to the appearance.
VAZ-2101 modernization option, proposed in 1974 by Porsche. Instead, there was a VAZ-2105
VAZ-2101 modernization option, proposed in 1974 by Porsche. Instead, there was a VAZ-2105. VAZ-2101 modernization option, proposed in 1974 by Porsche. Instead, there was a VAZ-2105.
MODIFICATIONS, PROTOTYPES, RARE
In addition to the main models, they produced many modifications with various combinations of engines and bodies. This diversity was due primarily to the specific requirements of foreign markets, where the buyer demanded the offer of various engines, even in the budget class.
The so-called VAZ-2106 "Tourist" with a built-in tent was made in a single copy
The so-called VAZ-2106 "Tourist" with a built-in tent was made in a single copy. The so-called VAZ-2106 "Tourist" with a built-in tent was made in a single copy.
In addition, VAZ-21073 with central fuel injection, cars with rotary engines (mainly for police and special services), and VAZ-21045 with a 53-horsepower diesel engine were produced in small quantities. Right-hand drive cars were also exported, in which the front right springs were strengthened due to a change in weight distribution (technical curiosity!).
Right-hand drive "Lada" delivered to the UK
Right-hand drive "Lada" delivered to the UK. Right-hand drive "Lada" delivered to the UK.
The Canadian market demanded significant improvements - many remember the Sixes with specially designed massive bumpers on gas-filled shock absorbers.
In the 1990s, under the brand name VIS (VAZinterService) they began production of trucks based on the VAZ-2105, later - 2107; Izhevsk Automobile Plant built an interesting combination of the “five” and its own “heel” based on the “Oda”.
In Italy, until 1974, FIAT-124 in various versions (including with a 70-horsepower top-mounted engine, which was put on the version of 124 Spechial, an analogue of the VAZ-2103), produced more than 1.5 million copies. Until 1972, FIAT-125 was produced - a model that looks like the 124th, but built on the platform of the old 1300/1500 family with a spring rear suspension and an increased wheelbase. The last descendant of the family is the FIAT-131, which is vaguely similar to the VAZ-2105, but with a MacPherson-type front suspension was built before 1984.
SEAT-124, Spain. SEAT-124, Spain.
Under the CEAT brand, analogues of our Lada were produced in Spain. About 900, 000 models 124 and a further 1430 of its kind were built in the Pyrenees.
Approximately 1.5 million FIATs of model 125 were licensed in Poland. The release continued until 1980. The Polonaise was built even longer, with which the 125th shared many nodes.
Polish "FIAT-125R". Polish "FIAT-125R".
Versions of the 124th were also produced in South Korea, Argentina, Bulgaria, India (Premier 118) and Turkey. In the latter, variations on the theme of the 131s were also made, different versions were named “Tofash-Murat”, “Serche”, “Shahin”, “Dogan”, “Kartal”. They were built until the mid-1990s.
Turkish "Tofash". Turkish "Tofash".
GREAT ITALIAN REVOLUTION
No exaggeration! Zhiguli really became an occasion for serious transformations in Soviet industry and throughout life.
Even at the stage of preparation for production at the main plant and at allied manufacturers, some GOSTs had to be changed. The former did not provide the proper accuracy and quality of components required by Italian technology. Factories of the USSR mastered modern units and assemblies. And the consumer got an unusual car.
Easy start-up, quick and efficient interior warming. Excellent dynamics and strong brakes. And, most importantly, reliability! Machines did not require constant pulling, adjustment, lubrication. The first years of the car’s life needed, in fact, only to change the oil, sometimes to carry out simple preventive operations. This created a new type of owners. Increasingly, they became people who are far from technology, do not go into the device of the car and willingly trust its maintenance and repair to professionals.
Cuban craftsmen make such elongated taxis from old Lada cars
Cuban craftsmen make such elongated taxis from old Lada cars. Cuban craftsmen make such elongated taxis from old Lada cars.
The fleet of personal cars grew at an unprecedented rate for the country. And with it the problems. In large cities, there was a shortage of parking lots and garages (however, one cannot compare with the current one). Remember the “Garage” of Eldar Ryazanov: what passions raged between those who wanted to get a house for a car that was by no means cheap, but still in short supply. The comedy film is not as far from life as it seems!
Zhiguli contributed to the development of a network of gas stations and service stations. But the growth of the park still overtook the capabilities of the latter. The cars were getting older, but they didn’t go to automobile cemeteries at all, as they had originally planned. The official life of the Lada was seven years. But they were repaired, changing everything - from the suspension arms and engines to the wings and side members.
Three prototypes of the station wagon with parts of the VAZ-2103 were built in 1976
Three prototypes of the station wagon with parts of the VAZ-2103 were built in 1976. Three prototypes of the station wagon with parts of the VAZ-2103 were built in 1976.
The planned economy absolutely did not foresee such a demand for spare parts. And here also the quality of components began to fall. Even owners far from technology worriedly repeated obscure terms: silent blocks, distributor, inserts, caps, camshaft. The latter became a favorite topic at the turn of the 1980s when, as a result of streamlining production, the part began to fail even on almost new cars.
Spare parts became more and more scarce, and getting to know a car service was a dream of hundreds of thousands of Soviet motorists, at least those who couldn’t change, adjust, cook or paint on their own.
Then, already in perestroika times, the shortage of spare parts began to be compensated by cooperatives growing faster than mushrooms. But many still recall those details with a shudder. A new revolution began, in which the Lada was no longer the main role …
SPORTS AND PHYSICAL CULTURE
In the early 1970s, Zhiguli entered the rally and circuit races. A separate class was created for the VAZ-2101 with a working volume of 1.2 liters in the country, since the main sports car of those years, the Moskvich-412, had a 1.5-liter engine.
"Lada" at the Race of Stars, organized by "Behind the Wheel" - in constant rivalry with the "Muscovites"
"Lada" at the Race of Stars, organized by "Behind the Wheel" - in constant rivalry with the "Muscovites". "Lada" at the Race of Stars, organized by "Behind the Wheel" - in constant rivalry with the "Muscovites".
Athletes on the "Lada" carried more and more serious results. And in 1975, S. Brundza and L. Shuvalov, the crew on the VAZ-2103, became the absolute champions of the USSR. Since that time, the VAZ “classic” dominated on domestic routes.
The first international success came to the “penny” already in 1971, when the Togliatti team won the silver cup at the rally “Tour of Europe”. Factory drivers also performed well in the individual competition. The most striking achievements of the 1970s and early 1980s are connected with the stages of the Friendship Cup of socialist countries (an alternative to capitalist championships). Racers on the "Lada" repeatedly won cup rallies and circuit races.
In the mid-1970s, VAZs performed well in prestigious rallies that are part of the European Championship. Anatoly and Galina Kozyrchikovs became the 15th in the overall standings of the rally "1000 Lakes" in 1975. A year later, S. Brundza and A. Girdauskas took sixth place in the absolute and second in their class at the Akropolis rally. This was the highest achievement of Lada in competitions of this level.
"Lada-1600" with a body of model 21011 and a 1.6 liter forced engine at the Acropolis rally
"Lada-1600" with a body of model 21011 and a 1.6 liter forced engine at the Acropolis rally. "Lada-1600" with a body of model 21011 and a 1.6 liter forced engine at the Acropolis rally.
At the "Lada" were not only our athletes, but also representatives of the socialist countries, and even the "children of capitalism", mostly Scandinavians.
Racing versions of the Zhiguli were built both by VAZ itself and various sports clubs. Of the foreign closers, the Czechoslovak Metalex workshop was most famous.
The pinnacle of the sports refinement of the "classic" was the "Lada-VFTS", created on the basis of the VAZ-2105 in Vilnius under the leadership of the repeated champion of the USSR Stasis Brundza. Its engine developed 160 hp. at 7000 rpm and 165 N • m at 5500 rpm. A 4- or 5-speed cam gearbox was installed on the machines.
Lada-VFTS is a sports car created in Vilnius under the leadership of Statis Brundza
Lada-VFTS is a sports car created in Vilnius under the leadership of Statis Brundza. Lada-VFTS is a sports car created in Vilnius under the leadership of Statis Brundza.
“Classic” went to competitions back in the 1990s, but now it appears in amateur rallies.
"LADIES" and "DRIVING"
Undoubtedly, the VAZ brand has broken all records in the number of references in the SR in the entire history of the magazine. Already in 1968, the cover of the June issue was decorated with photos of three pre-production cars. And in the fall, the editors announced a competition for the name of a new car. 54 849 letters have arrived! What names were not in them! “Novorozhets” and “Katyusha”, “Argamak”, “Directive” and VIL-100 (if anyone forgot, in 1970 the country widely celebrated the centenary of V. I. Lenin). The top five included: Volzhanka (3989 letters), Friendship (2878), Dream (2806), Zhiguli (2220) and Lada (1752).
In the 1970s, Zhiguli was the main participant in all the Driving tests
In the 1970s, Zhiguli was the main participant in all the Driving tests. In the 1970s, Zhiguli was the main participant in all the Driving tests.
With the advent of the Lada, they were given special attention in the magazine. Readers were looking forward to the next report on the life of the editorial “penny” with the number “00–55 Proba”. And in the permanent column “” We go to “Zhiguli” in detail described the design and methods of maintenance, gave advice on operation and driving on an unprecedentedly dynamic car for our motorists.
Each new model, modification, and even the upgraded unit was described in detail, with diagrams, drawings, and photographs, by the magazine. Several models of “Lada” after that first “penny” worked in the “Behind the Wheel”, driving tens of thousands of kilometers in Moscow and the region, in long-distance runs. For example, the “sixes” in 1977 along with the “cornfields” participated in a journey repeating the route of the famous Karakum race of 1933.
At the end of the twentieth century, the magazine announced the competition “Russian Car of the Century”. More than 80, 000 (!) Readers expressed their opinion. Most recognized as such the first-born VAZ - model 2101, "penny." And rightly so!
Readers at the wheel recognized the VAZ-2101 of the century as a Russian car
Readers at the wheel recognized the VAZ-2101 of the century as a Russian car. Readers at the wheel recognized the VAZ-2101 of the century as a Russian car.
However, the story of the Zhiguli and their life on the pages of ZR did not end there. And it will not end until interest in the most massive domestic automobile family runs out. And this will not come soon: according to the traffic police, as of January 2011 in Russia there are 6, 800, 000 registered cars of the VAZ "classic" family. And this … wait a minute … 20.8% of the total Russian fleet.
LINE OF LIFE - “LIQUID” IN DATES
In Italy, he made his debut and became the car of the year FIAT-124. The Italians signed a general agreement with the Ministry of Automotive Industry of the USSR
In Italy, he made his debut and became the car of the year FIAT-124. The Italians signed a general agreement with the Ministry of Automotive Industry of the USSR.
The beginning of the construction of the VAZ plant, the test of FIAT-124 in the USSR.
Start of production of the VAZ-2101: 1.2 liter engine, 64 hp, speed 142 km / h
Start of production of the VAZ-2101: 1.2 liter engine, 64 hp, speed 142 km / h.
Start of production of the VAZ-2102: 1.2 liter engine, 64 hp, speed 139 km / h
Start of production of the VAZ-2102: 1.2 liter engine, 64 hp, speed 139 km / h.
Start of production of the VAZ-2103: 1.5 l, 77 hp, 152 km / h, vacuum brake booster, tachometer
Start of production of the VAZ-2103: 1.5 l, 77 hp, 152 km / h, vacuum brake booster, tachometer.
Millionth car - VAZ-2103.
Start of production of the VAZ-21011: 1.3 liters, 69 hp, 145 km / h
Start of production of the VAZ-21011: 1.3 liters, 69 hp, 145 km / h.
Start of production of the VAZ-2106: 1.6 l, 80 hp Two millionth car - VAZ-21011
Start of production of the VAZ-2106: 1.6 l, 80 hp Two millionth car - VAZ-21011.
Three millionth car - VAZ-2106.
Four millionth car - VAZ-2106.
Five millionth car - VAZ-2101.
Start of production of the VAZ-2105: 1.3 liters, 69 hp, the first block headlights in the USSR. Tests of the diesel VAZ-21055
Start of production of the VAZ-2105: 1.3 liters, 69 hp, the first block headlights in the USSR. Tests of the diesel VAZ-21055.
Шестимиллионный автомобиль - ВАЗ-2105. Окончание производства ВАЗ-2101. Всего было изготовлено 2 710 930 экз.
Старт производства ВАЗ-2107: 1, 5 л, 77 л.с., анатомические сиденья. Публичный показ ВАЗ-21018 с роторным двигателем, на «Жигули» начинают устанавливать пятиступенчатую коробку передач.
Окончание производства ВАЗ-2101, изготовлено 2 710 930 экз.
Старт ВАЗ-2104 - универсал на базе 2107. Семимиллионный автомобиль - ВАЗ-2107. Окончание производства ВАЗ-2103, изготовлено 1 304 866 экз
Старт ВАЗ-2104 - универсал на базе 2107. Семимиллионный автомобиль - ВАЗ-2107. Окончание производства ВАЗ-2103, изготовлено 1 304 866 экз.
Восьмимиллионный автомобиль - ВАЗ-2107. Окончание производства ВАЗ-2102. Изготовлено 666 989 экз.
Старт производства грузовичков ВИС
Старт производства грузовичков ВИС.
Старт производства ВАЗ-2106 в Сызрани и Ижевске. Читатели ЗР называют ВАЗ-2101 российским автомобилем столетия.
Окончание производства ВАЗ-2106 в Тольятти, изготовлено 3 946 256 экз. Начало производства дизельного ВАЗ-21045.
Перенос производства ВАЗ-21043 в Ижевск. В Тольятти изготовлено около 895 000 экз. Семейство получает серийный впрысковый мотор мощностью 73 л.с.
Окончание производства ВАЗ-2106 в Ижевске.
Окончание производства ВАЗ-2105. Изготовлено около 2 090 000 экз.
Окончание производства ВАЗ-2107 в Тольятти. Изготовлено приблизительно 2 870 000 экз. Выпуск передан в Ижевск.
Анатолий Михайлович Акоев
Анатолий Михайлович Акоев Анатолий Михайлович Акоев
Анатолий Михайлович Акоев в прошлом инженер-испытатель, заместитель начальника отдела испытаний, начальник отдела доводки автомобилей, затем начальник управления дорожных испытаний и доводки автомобиля. Сейчас пенсионер, но работает - создает новые методики.
«В 1967 году я работал инженером-испытателем на ГАЗе. Примерно в то же время узнал о ФИАТе-124 и решил перейти на строящийся ВАЗ, чтобы работать именно с этой машиной. Перевод дался непросто, поскольку некоторые специалисты с ГАЗа уже уехали, а больше отдавать туда людей не хотели.
Я стал инженером-испытателем ВАЗа в 1968 году, когда у завода ни одного корпуса не было, даже Автозаводского района еще не существовало - чистое поле с несколькими фундаментами. Моя первая самостоятельная работа зимой 1968-1969-го - организация и проведение сравнительных испытаний ФИАТ-124 и прототипов ВАЗ-2101, пока еще с незначительными отличиями от «итальянцев».
We were based in the garage of the city executive committee, and our “test base” was in the nearby village of Timofeevka. We drove a dozen cars around the clock, in three shifts, according to the Italian Stop and go method, simulating the life of a doctor: a short trip on a cold engine and an almost hour-long parking. At the weekend, the “doctor left” for 300-350 km, moving at a high speed for those times. The roads are icy, and the tires are summer, then they did not even dream of spikes.
Anatoly Akoev (second from left) during the tests of the first VAZ-2101 at the Dmitrov training ground in 1970
Anatoly Akoev (second from left) during the tests of the first VAZ-2101 at the Dmitrov training ground in 1970. Anatoly Akoev (second from left) during the tests of the first VAZ-2101 at the Dmitrov training ground in 1970.
It was then that struck me amazing at that time handling and stability of the car. I had experience riding various Muscovites, Pobeda, the 21st Volga, and prototypes of the Twenty-Four. I liked the dynamics and effective brakes, despite the lack of an amplifier. He conquered a powerful heater and good blowing of glasses. At that time, when “Muscovites” went with defrosted clicks on the windshield, wrapping themselves in warm clothes, we flaunted the wheel in jackets, or even in shirts.
In the history of VAZ, there were three key cars that gave birth to entire families: the VAZ-2101, the Niva, created on the units and assemblies of the same “classic”, and the front-wheel drive “eight”.
I have a special relationship with the “classics”. I consider it a unique offer for that time in terms of price / quality ratio. Buy "Lada" was not easy even having money. And today, with a huge variety of choices, the "classic" is in demand. Well, in my personal life it’s a landmark car that determined my fate.”
Vladimir Vasilievich Minenko
Vladimir Vasilievich Minenko Vladimir Vasilievich Minenko
Vladimir Vasilievich Minenko - in the early 1970s, head of the technical department of mechanical assembly production. He left the factory "by age" (the expression "pension" does not accept) in 1998. Now a private entrepreneur, supplies electrical components to the main conveyor of AvtoVAZ.
“In the summer of 1967 he came to Togliatti from GAZ. Dusty corn field, larks in the sky sing. On three poplars growing very close by, a plan of the plant, which is not yet available, is hung. We, young managers (they recruited guys no older than thirty as mid-level managers, there was a limitation of up to forty for directors) of an enterprise that does not exist yet, we are listening to Polyakov. He sets out everything beautifully. And suddenly: the first car should go off the assembly line to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lenin! Less than three years remain, and there are still no buildings …
FIAT-124 I first saw in US. Neither give nor take a tin can. The flip hurts for our roads. A little later, through our department, changes went on the engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes and other units.
In the engine, the most significant change - moving the camshaft up - was made on the idea of the chief designer Solovyov. How many copies were broken because of this! But the real battle between FIAT and US over the cartridges, in which we, the VAZ players, took part, was more remembered. The Italians insisted that the cylinder block should be cast-iron, non-fenced - “according to the design”. Ours demanded to insert sleeves into it, assuming that the domestic "wrong" cast iron would wear out intensively or wear pistons and rings. Both sides stood to death. There was a threat of failure to meet deadlines. Polyakov found a way out: he didn’t take any side and decided to follow two paths in parallel. They even bought and installed equipment for the production of cartridges. But this section remained unclaimed, since the metallurgists were able to find the “right” cast iron for the block and the sleeves were not needed for the motor.