Friday, 21 August 2009

Funny old cars - Poland 1989

Above: The FSO Warszawa M-20; a licence-built version of the Soviet GAZ M-20 Pobieda (Victory). Although the bodywork styling was revolutionary in 1946, the M-20's mechanicals came from the Model-B Ford of 1932.

Above: The GAZ Volga M-21, successor to the Pobieda. Same engine block, bored out from 2.1 to 2.4 litres, with overhead valves (rather than sidevalves). In the mid-eighties I owned one of these back in England, a 1963 model with right-hand drive (rare!), in black.

Above: The GAZ Volga 24-10, late production version of the M-24, successor to the M-21. Something based on this is still in production in Russia today. Unlike the other photos on this post, which were taken in Poznań, this one was taken in Warsaw. Note the red Datsun Stanza, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen trucks, and lack of Fiat 126P Maluchs in the background.

Above: Moskvitch 407. Mechanically, this car was based on the pre-war Opel Kadett. In 1945, the Soviets seized the Opel factory in Germany and transported the whole thing to Russia. Three generations of Moskvitches followed; the first were basically still pre-war Kadetts, the second (1956-64) were re-bodied (above), while the third generation was square-shaped and boring.

Above: This rear-engined car is the Zaporozhets. Despite resemblance to the West German NSU Prinz, this was a genuine all-Soviet design. Not intended for Party luminaries, this was the USSR's very own 'people's car'. I saw one in Ursynów this week, so they keep on going!

Above: And finally a non-Soviet car - the original Skoda Octavia. These six photos were taken because the cars were characteristic of the communist world, yet unusual in Poland, where the ubiquitous Fiat 126P (visible in the background of all but one of the pics) and Fiat 125P between them represented well over half of all cars on the road. Once economic transformation kicked in, a flood of used western vehicles were brought into Poland, with VWs and Mercs being the most popular.

And indeed. Twenty years on, people drive old cars because they want to, not because the only alternative was a Maluch. Above: A Mercedes 190D on ul. Karczunkowska earlier this week.


White Horse Pilgrim said...

But with an old Trabant, one could chop it in half, throw away the front (and make a chicken house out of it), add two shafts, and have a nice little horse-drawn carriage for two people. Could one do this with a Fiat 126? Or with any of those other cars?

Aphelion said...

Ah, more pictures to bring back memories - thank you for posting them!

jan said...

Some fifteen years ago I owned a Zaporozec. It was of this slightly modernized mk II series, with these spectacular air ducts sadly removed. My god, what ride was it ! Though it only had about 40kkm on the clock and the previous owner looked after it as if it was his own child, I was only able to make about 15 kkm in two years. It experienced all kind of mechanical failures, including a blown gasket, ground camshaft and a gearbox failure. And a fire from that ingenious gas-burning heating system.

But the astonishing roar of 1300ccm, 45 hp, V4 engine will never be forgotten... (Particularly as the silencer fell off once)

Michael Dembinski said...

WHP - don't forget the Fiat 126P has a rear-mounted engine - which reminds me of a joke from that era. A Swede and a Pole were boasting about their cars. The Swede says "If I smash my Volvo head-on into a brick wall at 60kmph the engine remains untouched". The Poles says "If I smash my Fiat 126P into a brick wall at 60kmph, the engine also remains untouched."

Jan - the Zaporozhets without the 'ear flaps' is just not the same!

My fave communist-era cars however were the Czechoslovak Tatras - the T600 Tatraplan and the T603.

Lucky Archer - Lakis Velotris said...

Ingatief is the grandson of the San Stefano imperialist and plans a soviet takeover of Canada for the minerals.

Paul from Australia said...

Not funny, fascinating.