The first cars - “Fords-A” and AA from American parts, the enterprise on the far outskirts of the capital then released exactly 75 years ago. But this is not the only reason to talk about the once famous plant: 50 years ago, in 1955, the state commission accepted the production of Moskvich-402 - in fact, the first model independently developed by MZMA designers. It was with her, starting with the Khrushchev thaw, that the countdown to the brightest pages in the history of the plant began.
Compared to its predecessor, the 401th (a copy of the pre-war Opel-Kadet), the Moskvich-402 looked quite modern, became more spacious, more comfortable. Its main drawback at that time was a weak under-valve motor, the design of which went back to the mid-thirties. The unit was modernized, bringing the volume to 1.2 liters and raising the power from 26 to 35 hp. But the chairman of the state commission, Dmitry Velikanov, comparing Moskvich with a dozen foreign analogues (several foreign cars were tested “alive” with the 402th), noted: they have 35–41 hp per tonne of mass, Moskvich’s only 22.7 h.p. From here - mediocre acceleration and speed.
At MZMA, this, of course, was understood. The designers developed a family of 406 engines with a working volume of 1.1-1.5 liters, but it was necessary to change equipment for it, and this was, of course, not allowed to the plant.
As a result, the 407th engine was adopted for production, which was based on the same “opelevsky” unit, but with an overhead valve head and other improvements. In 1957, a year after the start of production of Moskvich-402, one hundred experienced 45-horsepower engines were manufactured. And in May 1958, Moskvich-407 with a new engine already went into production. A year later, the car received a four-speed gearbox, and in 1960 - a new hypoid rear axle. What are the deadlines?
We also take into account that in parallel with the 407th, the station wagon 423, van 430, and all-wheel drive Moskvich-410 were modernized. On the basis of the latter, the plant, on its own initiative, created a van with two driving bridges, but the ministry preferred the Moskvich-411 station wagon - it went into production. A manual version of the 407th was also prepared.
Against the background of peers, classmates "Moskvich-407" was quite competitive. This, incidentally, was confirmed by the rally "Thousand Lakes", where in 1958 four factory crews made their debut and reached the finish line. And they rode, one might say, on production cars that were not brought up properly, and the Soviet racers had almost no experience.
What kind of cars were not built at the MZMA in the 1950s - early 1960s! Open sports "Moskvich-404" with a forced, equipped with four carburetors 60-horsepower 407th engine, a coupe based on the 402nd, finally, racing "formulas" on which factory masters more than once became champions of the country. In the late 1950s, when they switched to the 407th issue, they simultaneously created and tested two series of compact Moskvich-415 all-terrain vehicles (ЗР, 2003, No. 9). Very interesting was the design of the minibus A9.
This eight-seater car with nodes "Muscovites-407", 410 and some parts of the "Volga" was created at the direction of the Ministry and the automotive industry department of the State Planning Commission. A prototype - the prototype of a modern minivan was collected in the summer of 1958. From October to January, a car hit 10 thousand km in Moscow and the Moscow Region. The verdict of the factory testers read: refine and test further. But by the beginning of the 1960s, the plant management was forced to curtail work on the “Muscovites” A9 and 415 - there was no money, no equipment, no space for their production.
Soon, even all-wheel drive 410s and 411s were removed from the assembly line - it was necessary to increase the production of standard "Muscovites-407". For several years, more than 50% (!) Of Muscovites-407 were sold for export. Moreover, not only to the socialist countries - to Finland, Norway, France. And such was!
A lot of effort was spent by the chief designer’s office staff on a rear-engined mini-car, which is commonly called the Moskvich-444. The body was copied from the Italian FIAT-600 - such was the demand of the “upper echelons” who did not trust their own developments too much. According to the recollections of the then chief designer of the plant A.F. Andronova, ministerial directives on the motor changed six (!) Times. At the MZMA in 1957-1959 built five prototypes of machines, tested at the stand and its own engine capacity of 0.75 liters. Already in 1960, Moskvich-444 became a serial ZAZ-965, however, with a motor created in US.
And all these works were carried out by only 90 people - such was the staff of UGK MZMA in the late 1950s. At the same time, designers were constantly occupied with non-core orders: starting from designing parts of the gearbox of the MAZ-525 dump truck and ending with the creation of … an “automatic machine for selling cigarettes” and some “Polikarpov skates”.
In 1960, the appearance of the Moskvich-407 was updated, and two years later the 403rd appeared with upgraded suspension, brakes, engine, body and interior elements. But his century, despite steady demand, was short-lived.
In 1964, Moskvich-408 made its debut with an advanced design that even overtook some foreign classmates and an engine increased to 50 hp. power. Perhaps this was the first Soviet car, the authors of which seriously thought about passive safety. Belts were tested in France - the export position of the Muscovites was strong. Note that since the appearance of the first independent design - "Moskvich-402" less than ten years have passed!
Three years later, Moskvich-412 debuted with an unprecedented in the USSR for a 1.5-liter engine with a capacity of 75 hp. This car allowed Soviet athletes to adequately perform at prestigious international rallies. In 1968, four cars reached the finish line of the London-Sydney marathon. Two years later, in the spring of 1970, the 412th, by the way, already with a new finish, defeated 26 thousand km from London to Mexico City. In Sydney, the best Soviet crew came in their twenties. And in Mexico City L. Potapchik, Yu. Lesovsky and E. Bazhenov were already the twelfth. Note that, unlike the cars of the leading western racers, the Muscovites, who were included in the number of only 23 finishers (out of more than 90 that started in London), almost did not differ from the serial ones.
And what can we say about factory mechanics! In total, on two Moskvich-427 station wagons loaded under the roof, they drove at a pace close to the racing one, and repaired five (!) Of our sports cars at night. These are not legends! Back in the first half of the 1970s, Muscovites-412 were not ashamed to appear in a good automobile society.
What was later, many probably remember … "Moskvich 2140" in 1976, despite the modernization of some components and assemblies, could no longer compare with foreign analogues. Although finally there were disc brakes in the front, a modified interior and body.