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The first Soviet private car owner? You’ll never guess who it is!

“I have never seen such a concentration of rolls-Royces that was observed one night on the embankment of the Moscow river”, — wrote European tourists about Moscow in the late 20-ies.

In Petrograd until 1919 slowly gathered Russo-Balts from exported from Riga parts. Strictly speaking, they can be considered the last car of the Empire and the first Soviet.In Petrograd until 1919 slowly gathered Russo-Balts from exported from Riga parts. Strictly speaking, they can be considered the last car of the Empire and the first Soviet.

This is the second part of our journey in time. The first was here.

For the six months to October 1917, when something happened that the Bolshevik leaders at first called the coup, later called the great October socialist revolution, occurred the event which can be considered a landmark for the automotive life of the country. Factory workers AMO, which was already almost completed and slowly began to work, took on a dirty car to the tram station Director, a talented engineer and organizer Dmitry Dmitrievich Bondarev: angry proletarians, who were detained salary, having heard about future reductions, decided that all the troubles to blame the managers of the plant. The salary of the workers, of course, not increased. And the domestic auto industry to develop more rapidly did not.

Comrades, have you seen “Royce”?

In our country the concept of “private car” for a few decades ceased to exist. By the autumn of 1917 disappeared last dealers of foreign companies disappeared and a class of people that were their customers. Stopped the supply of imported equipment, which required a belligerent army. Selected cars from private owners, the soldiers, sailors, and all the deputies began already in the spring of 1917.

A revolutionary new use of a large and powerful 60‑horsepower Fiat.A revolutionary new use of a large and powerful 60‑horsepower Fiat.

On red square — the cars of those who in Soviet times used to be called BTS‑1 or Prombron. In fact, it is slightly modified in 1922 the Russo-Balt C24/40.On red square — the cars of those who in Soviet times used to be called BTS‑1 or Prombron. In fact, it is slightly modified in 1922 the Russo-Balt C24/40.

Requisitioned, including from the garage of the last Russian Emperor, cars was the fleet of new leaders at all levels, police and other “people with a gun.” But many of these machines, including the most prestigious in the years of the Renault brand, Delaunay-Belleville (the French cars especially welcomed Nicholas II), Mercedes and Rolls-Royce, were already jaded, required constant maintenance, repairs and spare parts. Barely ended the civil war, began to buy abroad (mostly in UK) of the car again, the most prestigious brands. Including Rolls-Royce, which was glorified by the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.

Soon the new government has bothered to upgrade its own fleet. In 1924 in Moscow the garage of the CPC was already eight fresh (purchased in UK new or not very used) cars Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP model, known under the name Silver Ghost. Bought and American Packards and Lincolns, met in the capital in 1920‑e years even the French luxury car brand Hispano-Suiza. By the end of the 1920s in Moscow were already a lot of luxury cars, which astonished the inhabitants. Here is how he described the impressions of another visit to Moscow of the then Czech writer Adolf Hoffmeister: “I have never seen such a concentration of rolls-Royces that was observed one night on the embankment of the Moscow river.” For managers of lower rank acquired cheaper imported cars.

The first requisition began in the February revolution. The soldiers and all the deputies have received a prestigious imported cars, for example, the French car Turcat-Méry.The first requisition began in the February revolution. The soldiers and all the deputies have received a prestigious imported cars, for example, the French car Turcat-Méry.

American trucks are White with a 30‑horsepower engine repaired with the wide use of domestic sites on AMO in the years 1918-1924. Just did 131 car.American trucks are White with a 30‑horsepower engine repaired with the wide use of domestic sites on AMO in the years 1918-1924. Just did 131 car.

The authorities were provided with cars, but transport problems of a vast country remained unresolved. Already in the mid‑1920s, the Soviet Union, although “renounced the old world”, began to buy buses in the capital, in particular, went regular nosed British Leyland (Leyland), passenger cars Renault for Moscow taxi, light French car brand Amilcar for removing messages from mailboxes, ambulance Mercedes-Benz 400 other cars. But currency for the mass motorisation of the country lacked. Needed private industry.

Iron horse takes the place of a peasant horse!

The slogan of the famous novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov “Golden calf” was indeed one of the leitmotifs of Soviet life in the 1920s. But slogans and enthusiasm for car ownership was not enough.

Founded during the First world factories stood unfinished. Russko-Baltiyskiy Zavod, the most powerful car in the Russian Empire, was evacuated from Riga in Tver (wagon production), Saint-Petersburg and Moscow, Fili. In St. Petersburg attracted individual instances of Russo-Balt C24/40 until about 1919, but to call it a full-fledged production was impossible. Fili plant, renamed BTS‑1 (Armored car factory) and included in the Union “Prombron”, in 1922, did four more of the pre-revolutionary model, but upgraded a bit to Russo-Balt C24/40, the first of which is solemnly presented to the Chairman of VTSIK, Mikhail Kalinin.

Production oriented primarily to the needs of the red Army. About any sale of cars to the population it is, of course, did not go! In addition, the plant in Fili, which had only a small part taken out of the Riga equipment was not capable of mass production of cars even in modest, at least the pre-revolutionary volumes. Already in 1923 BTAS‑1 repurposed — given to the concession of the German aviation firm Junkers and the factory BTAS‑2 (located near Preobrazhenskaya Zastava) in the years 1925-1926 produced twenty-two machines slightly upgraded pre-war design.

AMO-F15, the first car factory AMO made entirely from domestic components, manufactured November 1, 1924. In fact, it is the Italian Fiat 15 Ter, by then already ten years of age.AMO-F15, the first car factory AMO made entirely from domestic components, manufactured November 1, 1924. In fact, it is the Italian Fiat 15 Ter, by then already ten years of age.

On the basis of AMO-F15 did eleven staff vehicles for the leadership of the red Army.On the basis of AMO-F15 did eleven staff vehicles for the leadership of the red Army.

Lack not only the capacity, but and experience. After all, even the little that had time to accumulate before the revolution was lost, the new leaders did not want to deal with professionals of non-proletarian origin — from the former, as they said. For example, the same Dmitry Bondarev, who was expelled from the factory AMO. By the way, Ryabushinsky during the First world gathered at AMO best specialists, secured the release of skilled workers from military conscription, began to build housing for the workers and employees of the plant…

Since 1918, the AMO is slowly repairing American trucks are White, in large quantities purchased during the war for the army. From repair, is reduced initially to build one machine out of several worn-out and looted, slowly, started to manufacture the missing parts. Even cylinder blocks began to pour, but with great difficulty. Learned to make copies of the brand Zenith carburetors.

First bus chassis AMO collected in 1925. For six years, mastered only 192 similar machines.First bus chassis AMO collected in 1925. For six years, mastered only 192 similar machines.

In 1920‑e years worked in Moscow British buses Leyland and German Bussing. Own body under the German three-axle chassis Bussing did Moskovskiy Zavod Aremkuz.In 1920‑e years worked in Moscow British buses Leyland and German Bussing. Own body under the German three-axle chassis Bussing did Moskovskiy Zavod Aremkuz.

In Moscow gathered and the party polutoratonny Italian truck Fiat 15 Ter model of 1915 — that these machines were supposed to do Moscow factory, founded by brothers Ryabushinskys. But while the shop was constructed, and retrofitted, bought a batch of Assembly sets Italian (loading platform was doing on AMO), which, however, had ended by 1919.

Five years later, November 1, 1924, with great effort made the first AMO-F15. It is, in fact, was the same Fiat design in 1915, but made entirely from domestic components. And on 7 November the first AMO, of course, participated in the demonstration on red square.

This truck in Soviet times, became a kind of fetish — a symbol of the birth of mighty Soviet industry. Sometimes it was even called the first domestic car. But, strictly speaking, AMO and the first was not Soviet. Such a stretch we call the Russo-Balts, made in Petrograd between 1917 and 1919 and in 1922 at the Moscow plant BTAS.

On the basis of AMO-F15 began to make the country much-needed buses, fire trucks, postal vans. Gathered even a dozen of these cars and staff cars. But all this — a drop in the ocean. In 1928 reported the issue in Moscow only a thousandth of a truck.

The Yaroslavl plant, founded during the First world war by the famous Russian engineer and entrepreneur, Vladimir Lebedev, was to produce cars designs of the British company Crosley (Crosley). But by 1917 the degree of readiness of the plant was much lower than in Moscow AMO. Only to the 1925‑mu managed to start production of three-ton trucks I‑3, based on the design which were again American White (white). As another engine in the USSR simply was not on the I‑3 has set a 42‑strong unit of AMO-F15, which accelerates the car up to 38 km/h For the first three years of the Yaroslavl plant was collected only 160 trucks and chassis.

The basis of the first Yaroslavl truck I‑3 was a design American trehtomnika White. Poorly equipped plant in Yaroslavl in the years 1925-1928 collected only 160 machines.The basis of the first Yaroslavl truck I‑3 was a design American trehtomnika White. Poorly equipped plant in Yaroslavl in the years 1925-1928 collected only 160 machines.

In 1927 in Moscow, began production of the new Soviet cars. The design was developed in the US Institute, founded in 1921. The impetus was a thesis project by a young engineer Konstantin Sharapova, which, in fact, was a simple and cheap runabout Czechoslovak Tatra 11, adapted to local conditions.

US‑1 was for its class is quite contemporary, and partly even good car. The body stood on lightweight tubular cap frame, suspension — independent. The V2 engine air cooling had a working volume of 1.16 liters and given 18,5 HP, and later a 20.5 HP the car has no differential, but such a simple design in some European runabouts were used even in the first half of the 1930‑ies.

Engineers of Karelia and Petrov, the staff of the US, made in 1925 funny car-tandem Kar-a‑Pet c motorcycle engine (in Europe, such designs were called then cyclorama — cyclecar). To produce CT-and‑Pet was not planned; apparently, he embodied the dream of your own car. At least about this.Engineers of Karelia and Petrov, the staff of the US, made in 1925 funny car-tandem Kar-a‑Pet c motorcycle engine (in Europe, such designs were called then cyclorama — cyclecar). To produce CT-and‑Pet was not planned; apparently, he embodied the dream of your own car. At least about this.

The first chassis of the first Soviet serial compact car NAMI‑1 was collected on may 1, 1927.The first chassis of the first Soviet serial compact car NAMI‑1 was collected on may 1, 1927.

Release US 1 established in Moscow, Karetny Ryad, – State automobile factory No. 4 (GAS‑4), also known under the name “Spartak” (before the revolution — body shops Peter Ilyin). Details for US‑1 did AMO and BTS‑2. The production was semi-artisanal, but the quality of the machines so that they, in particular in the magazine “Behind the wheel”, criticized even the unspoiled Soviet drivers. However, the press began to talk about increasing production as much as up to 150 thousand cars a year, and even the possibility of the emergence of private owners! As the poet wrote, a lot of plans…, US‑1 we will return. But for now remember the first Soviet motorists-private traders.

Please forgive me that I brought “Renault”

What Mayakovsky was one of the first (if not the first!) motorists‑private traders in the USSR, and his girlfriend Lilya Brik, the first Muscovite, who received a driver’s license. However, Lily used the services of a chauffeur, but a poet at all behind the wheel did not sit down.

However, Mayakovsky brought back from Paris the new sedan Renault 6 CV NN, bought with the royalties from foreign editions and performances. But in addition to the solvency of the poet, of course, required the permission of the government. It is favorably resolved. Even when the country embarked on the new economic policy (NEP), which markedly improved the situation in the country, strengthened the ruble and contributed to the formation of a wealthy class to buy a new car without the government approval was impossible.

Lilya Brik, and one of the few in Moscow of the 1920-ies of private cars — Renault NN, brought from Paris by Vladimir Mayakovsky.Lilya Brik, and one of the few in Moscow of the 1920-ies of private cars — Renault NN, brought from Paris by Vladimir Mayakovsky.

US‑1 with a vent V2 output of 18.5 HP in the test run.US‑1 with a vent V2 output of 18.5 HP in the test run.

May remember as the hero of the novel of Ilf and Petrov Ostap Bender complained the irrepressible enthusiast of motoring Adam Kazimirovich Kozlevich: “the State does not consider me a buyer. I’m a private person. The only thing that could have been purchased at an ad in the newspaper is the same junk as our “Antelope””. Until a few decades by owners of new cars will be only a few citizens close to the leadership of the state, mostly writers and poets (say, Demian Poor), scientists, all sorts of arts.

But in the late 1920’s particularly hot romance timidly began to write about the mass car for the Soviet people. It was mentioned above, US‑1 and its successor NATI‑2. Advanced NACHI‑2 with a 22‑horsepower engine V4 was planning to do is not in Moscow, and in Izhevsk, where it was in abundance of qualified personnel, – the plant “Izhstal”. But the production was never established, and in those conditions in which the country was, it was quite logical.

For the leadership of the CPSU and of the Central Executive Committee in 1920‑e years, we bought the most prestigious cars produced in Europe and the United States. Especially at that time, the leaders appreciated British car Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP.For the leadership of the CPSU and of the Central Executive Committee in 1920‑e years, we bought the most prestigious cars produced in Europe and the United States. Especially at that time, the leaders appreciated British car Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP.

WE did in the former factory Ilyin in Moscow, at Karetny Ryad. Mass-produced, but in a very modest scale.WE did in the former factory Ilyin in Moscow, at Karetny Ryad. Mass-produced, but in a very modest scale.

To make a fairy tale come true

In 1928, the engineer, popularizer of the car, and in the future academician Yevgeny Chudakov stated: in the Soviet Union in operation is about 20 600 vehicles in Germany — 319 thousand, in France — 891 thousand in the UK — over a million and in the United States — about 22 million.

The seventh of November, 1932 in Moscow were shown new domestic automotive industry, including prototypes of the small car NATI‑2. Plans their production was soon abandoned.The seventh of November, 1932 in Moscow were shown new domestic automotive industry, including prototypes of the small car NATI‑2. Plans their production was soon abandoned.

In the USSR, still artisanal in miniscule quantities produced hundreds of cars a year, mostly pre-war samples, pretty outdated. This situation could change only in buying not only more modern imported designs and technology. The treaties signed with the American company Autocar (trucks formed the basis of Soviet AMO new generation, soon renamed ZIS) and giant Ford. Assembly Ford vehicle sets established in Kharkov, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. And in 1932, at the Bottom earned a powerful full-fledged plant, where began the mass production of Soviet cars and trucks GAZ — licensed Ford vehicles.

NAZ-AA, later GAZ-AA, but first of life Ford AA — a symbol of a new stage in the history of the domestic automobile industry.NAZ-AA, later GAZ-AA, but first of life Ford AA — a symbol of a new stage in the history of the domestic automobile industry.

It will be decades, and the country will build many new factories. The car will be able to buy one, unless, of course, will be able to save the necessary amount and stand in line. There will be new concerns: need somewhere to get the parts, tires, find someone who will repair the car, and it’s better to learn this business yourself. After about forty years the country will have a strange Soviet people, the dealers of foreign companies, and then cars will become common and affordable. Some of them will even produce in the country, which will once again be called Russia. But it already other history…

The first Soviet private car owner? You’ll never guess who it is!The first Soviet private car owner? You’ll never guess who it is!

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