Moskvitch 401. A Soviet Kadett

Moskvitch 401
ER Classics Desktop 2022

It is not nearly as cold here as in Siberia. But this classic Russian feels fine here now. The Moskvitch 401 in the pictures was built by the AZLK (Avtomobilny Zavod imeni Leninskogo Komsomola) and that in turn meant “Leninist Communist Youth League Automobile Factory”. And if that doesn't massage your patriotism, then you're an irrational cynic.

Borrowed knowledge, annexed production

Even before WWII there was a car industry in the Soviet Union. This actually consisted of license construction of American and Western European cars, whereby the sheet metal was thicker, the suspension stiffer and the heating was more muscular. After the Second World War, the Soviet car industry was boosted by the reparations and the withdrawal of all kinds of production possibilities from the not so millennial empire.
The car you see in the photos is a Moskvitch 401, built in 1955 and perfectly restored. Because although 'Russian' transport from around WWII and the Cold War has never been as 'contaminated' as former National Socialist transport, it has still not become hot collectable stuff.

A warmed up Kadett

The Moskvitch 401 was introduced in 1954 and like the 400 it was in fact a locally made Opel Kadett K 38. Opel had to surrender the entire Kadett bakery to the Soviet Union to compensate the Soviet Union for war costs. That was a heavy blow for Opel, which ended up in a crisis, from which it recovered only with great difficulty. The Russians took what they could get and find and tracked down the loot. 56 freight trains were needed to transport machinery and equipment from Russelsheim to Moscow.

Almost 99% Identical

The Moskvitch 401 had, just like the original Kadett, a water-cooled 1.126-cylinder engine of 24 cc with a Russian K100 carburettor. Behind it was a three speed gearbox and a clutch with only one plate. With a top speed of around 1956 km / h, such a Moskvitch was far too fast for most local cart paths. Moskvitches were manufactured almost unchanged until XNUMX in various versions: as a four-door sedan, convertible, van and as a rolling chassis for custom-built construction. To compensate for the aftermath of the war, quite a few examples were made as disabled vehicles.

Outside of Moscow, time has stood still

If you now look at images of Moscow, you will see the largest, fastest and most expensive automobiles driving there that the top segment can deliver. It is not as crazy as in places like Abu Dabi. But the further you get from the Epic center of Putin's dreamland, the further back you go.

After all, rural life in the former Soviet Union is just as poor as it used to be. And we now know that there are still a lot of classics driving and slumbering there. But in order to get stuff out of that region, you have to bribe any officer who might have anything to do with it. And if the local mafia also hear about your activities. The local population is poor and very hospitable. The economic model is that the women work, raise children, clean up the house and the men are or are about to get drunk. For many women in the region, a man who doesn't drink is the unattainable prince charming.

Also read:
- Moskvitch Aleko, and the Lada Tavria
- Back in the USSR: Russian classics
- Russian classics, coincidence does not exist
- Leningrad Sport Custom ... Russian sports car
- Get classics in Russia


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  1. yes, but Olav ten Broek up to the limitless form of the Nazis, they had no good light trucks of their own. They only had the American Opel Blitz, a great design. And it was adopted by the Nazis. But GM did make fair money in the XNUMXs, of course, but I doubt they dared to make a penny off Opel in wartime. By the way, Opel Ruesselsheim as well as Brandenburg had both already been taken over by the Nazis.

    • According to the "Trading with the enemy act" GM was forbidden to collect the profits from Opel from the moment Germany declared war on the US in November 1941. Until then GM did indeed make millions from producing German war equipment, because when simply Germany was not yet an enemy. On a positive note, I can mention that as early as the mid-XNUMXs, the Opel and GM leadership gave their Jewish employees the opportunity to escape persecution by offering them work at Vauxhall in Luton, where a German community continues to this day. exists.

      Indeed, from 1941 onwards, the German government was actually in charge of the Opel factories. But that didn't stop GM from safely parking the profits until a later date.

      And then there was Ford. Henri Ford was one of Hitler's greatest inspirations. Ford himself was an outright Nazi and wholeheartedly supported the Nazi regime. Ford even refused to make US military equipment while its companies did for Germany. All Jews at Ford were fired from 1933 and Ford used slavery during the war. Henri Ford received "for his great contributions to the German Reich" not only the highest German decoration a foreign citizen could receive, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, Adolf Hitler had a life-size oil painting above his desk in the new Reich Chancellery of " his ”Heinrich Ford.

      Not only Opel and Ford were amply involved, of course. I mention Hollerith, a division of IBM, without their punch card system, the Holocaust would have been impossible, and IBM just got along with it. I mention Eastman-Kodak, who even had a factory near Auschwitz. I mention Standard Oil, which fueled the Nazis, and Chase Manhattan Bank, which borrowed all the money for the military build-up.

      In the Netherlands, it was Shell that had supported the NSDAP since 1921, with millions and millions. Henri Deterding was obsessed with losing the Caspian and Siberian oil fields and wanted to get them back at all costs, he saw in the Nazis as a means of attacking the Soviet Union.

      And then in Rotterdam we had the Bank for Trade and Shipping, set up by arms manufacturer Thyssen, to have access to Wall Street capital before and during the war. This Nazi bank had a branch in New York, the Union Bank, which was headed by Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather of two later presidents.

      So it's sad but true: the poor wretches on Omaha Beach were shot to shreds with weapons of war produced by their own manufacturers and funded their own bankers.

  2. Thus, the writer has not been to Russia for a while and describes the years of Boris Yeltsin:

    After all, rural life in the former Soviet Union is just as poor as it used to be. And we now know that there are still a lot of classics driving and slumbering there. But in order to get stuff out of that region, you have to bribe any officer who might have anything to do with it. And if the local mafia also hear about your activities. The local population is poor and very hospitable. The economic model is that the women work, raise children, clean up the house and the men are or are about to get drunk. For many women in the region, a man who doesn't drink is the unattainable prince charming ”

    • Indeed, a lot is again completely made up of the big thumb. I have traveled extensively through Russia in recent years and what this article says has nothing to do with reality. A persistent Eastern bloc bashing reflex in Western dreamland. On the other hand, if you live in the countryside in the Netherlands and work in Amsterdam, some people also think that you come from Nova Zembla and walk around in bear skins at home, also your own experience so never mind, hopeless.

        • Hello Dolf, you have that here too, but here it happens more behind the curtains. I looked it up for you on the WHO site. NL per capita 9.6 liters per year (2019), Russian Federation 11.2 liters. Not really a shocking difference and that difference is already getting smaller. Is also my experience, nowadays it is more fashionable not to use alcohol at all and to eat healthy. That will differ per social group, but those old prejudices should really be thrown overboard because they are outdated. And that certainly also applies to regions far away from Moscow, it even surprises me time and again in a positive sense.

          • I never read an article about Fiat with anecdotes about the Cosa Nostra or about spaghetti eaters and I never read an article about a Chevrolet with the caption anything about firearms and Hillbillies and I never read about a Mitsubishi with reference to the coal mine on Hashima or the atrocities in Unit 731. But when it comes to Russia, there should always be a preconceived pargraph, even if it's a car. Actually, it says “We are better people”. Cold War brainwashing, I guess.

  3. All comments have pros or cons. I think it's a great article and hope that we can all continue to enjoy the input. Do not compromise on each other, but treat each other with respect.
    Admit it, we all want that.

  4. Olav you first write that the Opel factory was not in Russelsheim, but in Brandenburg later in your letter you report that the Opel factory has received compensation from the Americans because they bombed the factory in Russelsheim.
    bit sloppy !!!
    g Jogchum.

    • Don't judge too quickly Jochem! Opel's headquarters was and is Rüsselsheim, but the pre-war Kadett has always been made at their branch office in Brandenburg and the post-war one in Bochum. Hence.

  5. Is not true. The Kadett factory was not located in Rüsselsheim, but in Brandenburg, in the Soviet occupation zone. Therefore, the USSR was able to take him. The Russians were not entitled to goods from the Western Occupation Zones.

    The reparations were agreed at the Potsdam Conference. The USSR was allowed to take half of the industry in its zone of occupation and rebuild it in its own country, which had been completely destroyed from Poland to Moscow.

    The Western Allies also received compensation, but they had less need for German machines than the Soviets. The United States received $ 15 billion worth of German patents, patents and research and several thousand test models and samples, from chemicals to rocket engines, jet engines, optical techniques, etc.

    And please don't feel sorry for Opel. General Motors made tons of money from Nazi war production before and during the war, just like Ford. Money that was neatly parked in Switzerland during the war, so that after the capitulation GM could still collect its war profits.

    In fact, GM demanded compensation from the US government for rebuilding the bombed-out factories in Rüsselsheim and won.

  6. Yes again a great story from our Russia expert. It is a pity that it is not stated where this beauty can be seen or comes from (own import / dealer).

    Russia the country for affordable classics, right?

  7. in the 80s I bought a Lada 1500, with all the trimmings, yes even headlamp wipers, for the price of approximately € 4000, LPG installation included. It started as when coming home by car, after checking, spare wheel was flat, passenger seat belt was defective and so it has continued. One evening I come home, headlight wipers continue to work, despite the ignition being turned off, a few months later I put on the handbrake, rag, I had it in my hand, the mounting had come loose. At the first maintenance after 1000km, I received an invoice for a full major maintenance, new filters and spark plugs. Sadly, I sold it after 2 and a half years for less than € 500.

  8. I myself have very good memories of my first car, a Lada 1500S 2103, when I was still studying, bought for 200 euros. 60.000 km later, the polyester could no longer hold the body together and it was unfortunately the end of the story. It always started, unlike most other cars, even in the winter of 1984 at -22 ° C
    At the time, a new Lada 1200 cost barely 79000 Francs (approx. 2000 euros now).
    Ideal if you had to get from A to B for little money. You could not choose a color, after a full ship of cherry red, a ship was poison green, followed by a whole ship of bathroom blue. If you didn't like the color, or if the tires were worn out, you just parked them at the scrapyard and bought another factory new one for laughably little. It was that simple then. Unfortunately those times are over. A Skoda (with rear engine) or Zastava or Dacia (Renault 12 surrogate), were even cheaper, but slightly less reliable. The Ladas were indeed much improved and strengthened 60s Fiat 124s
    In 1982 the Lada Nova was the most sold car in Belgium.

    • Good story!

      Only why translate AZLK from Russian to English, we are here on a Dutch site, right? It can simply be translated to: Automobile factory of the Leninist Komsomol. And if you want to know more, Komsomol (Russian: Комсомол) was a communist youth organization in the Soviet Union. the internet, in this case and mostly Wikipedia, is your friend!

      Also nice, the Germans thought that the Renault Juvaquatre looked too much like this Kadett, but then this design was common at several manufacturers, also the Ford Tudor, among others, looked a bit like it, then they also thought that 'all cars on top of each other appear'. In any case, what is nice in this case is that this Moskvitch ('son of Moscow') factory has been part of the Renault concern for several years. And so there is another, somewhat sought after, circle around.

        • My reaction is more about the undervalued Russian classics in general and the experience I have with them is unfortunately only with a Lada.

          • I have had quite a lot of different makes of cars, but I have had the Lada 1600 the longest, driven over 150000 km in 5 years, never left it behind and had a lot of fun with it. It was a nice car and warm in the winter.

        • It always goes that way. I just wrote something about Lada on Facebook and then I got a reaction like “I had a Dacia, the brother of the Lada”.

          A Dacia had as much to do with a Lada as a Daf with a Toyota. But if you ask about that, it is called “they were both communist cars”, as if a car could be a communist.

          • Not then, but now. Lada and Dacia both belong to the Renault concern and share a lot of technology with each other. The Lada Largus is, by the way, the previous Dacia Logan MCV. Excellent cars by the way. And so the French communists who, most likely, nationalized the Louis Renault factory, got their way.

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