The car was sold in France as the Moskvitch Elite 1300 and as the Moskvich Carat in Norway. It was powered by 1.3litre / 1358cc straight-4 petrol engine, producing 50hp (37kW). "More worth than its price", was it's slogan for export sales.
There were two distinct series of the M-408, which both used the same name.
The first series of cars were produced between 1964 and 1969 in Moscow. These cars had vertical rear lights, two or four round headlights, a front bench seat, and a 4-speed manual transmission with column mounted gear lever. The length of the standard model was 4090mm (161in).
The second series was produced between 1969 and 1976 in Moscow. It had the same engine and transmission as its predecessor, but a new body — longer (at 4250mm) and fitted with rectangular headlights (made in East Germany) and horizontal rear lights, with triangular turn signal markers mounted on tail fins. Also it had separated bucket seats and the transmission used a floor-mounted gear lever.
From 1966 until 1967 the car was also produced by the IZH military factory in the city of Izhevsk, carrying the IZH-Moskvitch-408 name — though usually called simply Moskvitch-408. This car was a direct clone of the MZMA Moskvitch-408, except for the badges.
The car had quite modern features for 1964: a stylised speedometer, sharp tail fins and panoramic rear window. It also had a then-common artificial leather interior (colour-coded).
The M-408 was a conventional rear-wheel drive economy car powered by a 1358cc OHV straight-four, producing 50hp (37kW) at 4750rpm. After 1967, the assembly of the engines was done by UZAM in Ufa. One 2-barrel down-draft carburettor was used. The car was equipped with self-adjusting drum brakes at first, then from 1969 with power brakes with a vacuum servo and a split circuit braking system.
This Moskvitch was the first Soviet-built car to have deliberate safety equipment (since 1969): a safety steering wheel, soft interior parts, seat belts, a padded dashboard, and a split circuit braking system.