For other uses see: Moskvitch (disambiguation)
Moskvitch (Russian: Москвич) (sometimes also mentioned as Moskvich or Moskwitch, which means Muscovite) was an automobile brand from Russia.
In 1929 the construction of Moscow Automotive Plant began with initial production of 24,000 vehicles. In 1941 the plant was evacuated to Ural and the entire production converted for the manufacture of the military equipment at the dawn of World War II. After the war, the Soviet Union brought an entire Opel manufacturing line from Brandenburg in Germany. A factory called MZMA (Moskovsky Zavod Malolitrazhnykh Avtomobiley, that is, Moscow Compact Car Factory) started in 1947 to manufacture an automobile called Moskvitch 400 based on the Opel Kadett. Further models were developed by Soviet engineers. In 1969, the factory changed name to AZLK (Avtomobilny Zavod imeni Leninskogo Komsomola, which means Youth Communist League Car Factory).
Moskvitch cars were never meant to be a fashion statement. They were sturdy, reliable on substandard roads and were offered at an affordable price. The 1960s and early 1970s were the glory days, when the cars were exported to many countries throughout the world. Demand always exceeded production, so people had to wait a long time for a new car. Until the 1980s all Moskvitch cars were compact rear-wheel drive saloons and estates with solid rear axles suspended by leaf springs.
The Moskvitch was also produced in Bulgaria (see Moskvitch (Bulgaria)) between 1966 and 1990 on the basis of complete knock down (CKD) kits.
In 1986 AZLK unveiled its new model, Aleko-141. The only part carried over from previous models was the engine. This front-wheel drive hatchback was different from any model the factory had made before. It was larger and upmarket, made with comfort, safety and aerodynamics in mind. The body was partly borrowed from Simca 1307, while longitudinal engine placement and torsion-crank rear suspension was inspired by Audi 80/100 cars. The car was an improvement over the previous generation, but the fall of the centralised economy, below-par quality and inadequate management ultimately brought the factory to bankruptcy.
The factory, which had been renamed to OAO Moskvitch (Moskvitch Joint Stock Company) in the early 1990s, filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and shut down all production. The factory remains idle and abandoned, everything left as it was in 2002. Unfinished bodyshells remain on the production line in various stages of completion, and furniture, computers, office supplies, and documents remain in the plant's administration building.
Several attempts to restart production have been made over the past 3 years, but to no avail. OAO Moskvitch apparently still exists as a company "on paper", and may still be the title-holder to the plant facilities, but Moskvitch no longer operates as a going concern; the company has no income, produces no products, and has no employees.
Recently, a portion of the disused Moskvitch plant has been acquired by OAO Avtoframos, a 38%-62% joint venture between the City of Moscow and French automaker Renault SA respectively. In 2005, Avtoframos commenced assembly of Renault Logan sedans from imported complete knock-down kits (CKDs). The presence of Avtoframos means that at least part of the Moskvitch plant is active once again, but the majority of the sprawling plant remains abandoned, apparently still owned by the dormant Moskvitch company.
"Kadett Body" Moskvitches:
- Moskvitch 400/420 (1946)
- Moskvitch 400/422 ("woodie" station wagon version of 400) (1949)
- Moskvitch 401/420 (1954)
- Moskvitch 401/422 ("woodie" station wagon version of 401) (1954)
- Moskvitch 401/420 (4-door convertible, was priced below closed models, but anyway was not popular) (1949-52)
"Round Body" Moskvitches:
- Moskvitch 402 (with modified Opel flathead engine)(1956)
- Moskvitch 410 (four wheel drive version of 402 and 407) (1957)
- Moskvitch 411 (station wagon version of 410) (1958)
- Moskvitch 423 (M-402&407 station wagon form)
- Moskvitch 424 (M-403 station wagon form)
- Moskvitch 407 (35 hp OHV engine) (1958)
- Moskvitch 403 (45 hp engine) (1962)
"Square Body" Moskvitches:
- Moskvitch 408 (1964)
- Moskvitch 426 (station wagon version of 408) (1966)
- Moskvitch 412 (1967) (latterly known as a Moskvitch 1500 for the Western export market)
- Moskvitch 427 (station wagon version of 412) (1967)
- Moskvitch 1360 (1970)
- Moskvitch 1500 (1970)
- Moskvitch 2136 (1976)
- Moskvitch 2137 (1976)
- Moskvitch 2138 (1976)
- Moskvitch 2140 (1976) (carried on the scheme of using the Moskvitch 1500 name for Western exports)
- Moskvitch 2140SL (1981) (Improved 2140, Super Lux was made for foreign markets)
"Front-Wheel Drive" Moskvitches:
- Moskvitch 2141 Aleko (1988)
- Moskvitch 2142 (1997)
- Svjatogor (1997) (a name taken from Russian mythology)
- Dolgorukij (1997) (named after Yuri Dolgoruki, founder of Moscow)
- Kalita (1998) (named after Ivan Kalita, a 14th century Russian prince)
- Knjaz Vladimir (1998) (named after Prince Vladimir)
- Duet (1999)
Sport and racing cars
- Moskvitch 404 Sport (1950s)
- Moskvitch G1 (1951)
- Moskvitch G2
- Moskvitch G3
- Moskvitch G4
- Moskvitch G5