The idea of a car of a wagon arrangement has been exciting the minds of designers since the 1920s. In such a machine, it is possible to more rationally use the internal space, and from the point of view of aerodynamics the body had advantages. This was back in the 1920s by the joint research of the German engineer Edmund Rumpler and one of the German universities. In the mid-1930s, a rear-engine “car” was built on the basis of the Mercedes-Benz 170 H (ZR, 2005, No. 10). The famous designer and racer Andre Dubonnet created an unusual car that resembles a fish in shape: without a hood, but with a fin on the rear roof slope - for streamlining and stability in turns. Under the fin was the Ford production engine.
These machines, sophisticated technologically and wary of the public, have remained prototypes (now they would say - concept cars). But young Soviet engineers, eagerly looking at photos in foreign magazines that hit them, made a huge impression. In 1936, together with A. Peltzer (in the future, the creator of the record cars Zvezda) and B. Popov, Dolmatovsky designed a rear-engine car named after the first letters of the names of the designers - PDP. Alas, things didn’t go beyond the wooden layout. And Dolmatovsky could return to such a project only after the war.
In 1948, he, together with V. Aryamov and L. Terentyev, created a prototype of the modernized “Victory”. Either the project itself (though not accepted for production) was liked by someone “upstairs”, or NAMI employees convinced their bosses, citing the success of serial rear-engine (primarily Volkswagen-Zhuk and Tatras), but the sanction for The creation of such a prototype was given by Deputy Minister V. Garbuzov himself. The deadlines are tight: a year - for the project, a year - for the construction of the sample.
“Looking into the future is so bold!” The designers decided. For the car with the NAMI-013 index, a lot was done for the first time. Suspension of all wheels - independent, rear - torsion bar. The wheels are 13-inch so as not to take up space in the cabin with large arches. They built a prototype of a completely new engine - an opposed four-cylinder with a compression ratio of 9.5 and fuel injection into the manifold - and even an automatic transmission!
Design was chosen on a competitive basis. Shishkin, Aryamov, Dolmatovsky offered their layouts. In December 1950, the car was still a tubular frame with celluloid panels, more or less protecting the driver. On such a machine, they decided to make a test drive around the institute. The idea almost collapsed: lowering the car with a hoist from the second floor, it … was dropped. Fortunately, with minimal damage. The trip still took place.
The work was not at all smooth. Let's say a simple thing is brake drums. But the 13-inch, made to order (such small in the USSR did not produce), cracked. They did not have time to finish the experimental engine. They delivered a modernized unit from Pobeda GAZ-M20, the power of which was increased by 13 hp. - up to 63.5 hp When the car was finally put on the body, in the very first trips the engine began to overheat. I had to carefully look at the Czechoslovak Tatra and put in a powerful fan.
The unusual body caused the employees of the institute to associate with a monkey from the popular movie “Tarzan” in those years. NAMI-013 quickly stuck with the nickname "Chita." In 1951, they made short trips by car along the outskirts of Moscow. And in the summer of 1952 they took even more distant runs: to the Moscow Sea, then to Gorky and Leningrad.
So, the task of the ministry is completed. It is time to show the car to the scientific and technical council of the institute: it is up to him to decide the fate of the project. Probably, even the hottest heads understood: they couldn’t become a serial car, but designers and artists hoped that an interesting experience would not be lost. NAMI-013, in their opinion, could still (of course, after completion) become the basis of a new Soviet car. The chief engineer of NAMI Lyalin, approving the work, recommended continuing it. To the amazement of the creators of Chita, the chief designer of NAMI, the former chief of GAZ Lipgart, strongly opposed. Perhaps the reason for this was the recent disgrace and the actual exile of Andrei Alexandrovich from Gorky to Miass. After the death of Stalin, Lipgart was sent to US, but such twists of fate are quite capable of repelling the craving for innovation. And perhaps Andrei Alexandrovich did not like that the Chita was compared with the GAZ-12 ZIM - the last Gorky car in the creation of which he took part.
And with what else to compare? NAMI-013 did not have any domestic or foreign analogues! With virtually the same capacity as the ZIM, the Chita was only 4900 mm long - 450 mm shorter and 500 kg lighter than the GAZ-12. Tests have shown: for 100 km NAMI-013 consumes an average of 13.5 liters of gasoline, GAZ-12 - 16-17 liters. And the maximum speed of Chita - 130 km / h - was 5 km / h higher. Nevertheless, the opponent’s point of view prevailed. The components and assemblies were removed from the machine, the body and the frame were cut.
Hide prototypes in the USSR was not accepted. On the contrary, they were spoken about in full by the press. Which, incidentally, was closely watched by foreigners. In July 1955, the British magazine Motor described Chita as an “example of advanced technical thinking.”
A year later, the world saw the FIAT-600 Multipla, in fact - the first production mini-van based on a compact rear-engine car. In 1957, the BMW-600 trailer went into production. Of course, these machines were not a direct borrowing of the ideas embodied in NAMI-013, but rather a confirmation that the path that Soviet designers did not lag behind their Western colleagues promised a future. By the way, in the USSR in the mid-1950s a compact trailer for the work of NAMI - “Squirrel” - could appear. But he also shared the fate of model 013 (ЗР, 2005, No. 2).
At the turn of the 1950s, there were even closer “foreigners” to Chita. In 1959, the prototype Renault 900 with a long tail motor. In the same year, one of the leaders of the Italian studio "Gia" Luigi Segre brought to Moscow a prototype - a model of "Selena". Again, very reminiscent of NAMI-013. The design, of course, is more modern, fashionable. Well, 10 years have passed since the beginning of the work on Chita! By the way, Segre presented Selena to Soviet designers and designers - as a sign, as they wrote then, of a “community of ideas”. For some time, the “Italian” was kept in the Mosgortrans Museum, now she is in the storerooms of the Polytechnic. In the mid-1960s, the restless Dolmatovsky again worked on a rear-engine trailer. But the VNIITE-taxi car (All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Technical Aesthetics) deserves a separate story …