Friday, August 31, 2012

Cars That Should Never 
Have Been Made

Bonus James Bond Friday Edition

 1960 - 94 Zaporozhets

We talked about the awesome Tatra 603 in an earlier post, the car of choice to USSR Politburo party leaders. 

The Tatra was not available to the average Russian citizen, so I wanted to look at a car that was. 

And it hit me. We recently talked about the BMW Z3 from GoldenEye, but there was another cool car featured in that film, as well.

Yep. the piece of junk Joe Don Baker starts with a sledgehammer. The ZAZ 965.

"Nice car." Bonds says snidely.

The Zaporozhets was a little under-powered shitbox, and many Russians thought it was a rather cruel form of punishment when first introduced in 1960.

But it wasn't.

Like the Tatra, the Zaporozhets was dreamed up during the early days of the Cold War and the Space Race. 

Krushchev ordered the ZAZ (Zaporozhets Automotive Factory) to build a car comparable to the VW Beetle. 

Lead designer Vladimir Steshenko - as the famous factory floor rumor goes - insisted the new car cost no more than a 1,000 bottles of vodka.

And the first model, ZAZ 965, delivered. 

Powered by an air-cooled 746 cc V-4 producing a mind-boggling 26 horsepower and modeled after the Fiat 600, the little Zapor was cramped and got terrible gas mileage. 

Over time, however, the sturdy design proved to be a match for Russia's rutted tracks that passed for roads. The car was also remarkably easy to repair in the field.

All of the air-cooled models were built with disabled people in mind. 

Not only are there many options available if you happened to be missing a foot or hand, but the doors were hinged to open backwards for easier access of the handicapped. Note the trademark engine cooling 'ears' above the rear wheel.

The ZAZ 968M had the cute air intake ears removed

The ZAZ 966, introduced in 1966, was styled to look like a Chevy Corvair, and gained a whole horsepower - from 26 to 27. 


The ZAZ 968 and 968M, built from 1971 to 1994, retained the ugly body, but got better brakes and a plastic dash rather than the metal one with its sharp edges.

Nowadays most Zaporozhets look like the one pictured above. They rattled and wheezed across Russian roads for over 30 years, breaking down frequently. 

But the ZAZ got their owners to their destinations on the worst roads in the world - and that's saying something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

> Zaporozhets was a little under-powered shitbox

it was based on the fiat 600. it is the russian mini, loved to this day. it is the basis of numerous conversions, just like the mini vtec awd.

you didn't know, did you? arrogance always comes with ignorance.