Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage #147: Economy Class, Soviet Style

Originally intended for mass production, the KIM-10 is an extreme rarity - of 500 built, only half a dozen survived.

1940 KIM-10-50

It was the first Soviet economy class car, a distant cousin of the Volkswagen and Fiat Topolino. Its story is different from the German and Italian "people's cars": Dr. Porsche had a ready design for sale, Senator Agnelli was lucky enough to get Il Duce's support for his private brainchild, and the KIM came to life by a government decree - first the decree, then the concept.

On January 10, 1939, the Bolshevik Party Central Committee and People's Commissioners Council published their decision: to start small cars production at the KIM plant in Moscow. The plant was actually a subsidiary of Gorky Automotive Works, assembling GAZ-AA light trucks and other vehicles. Now it was chosen for an ambitious plan - in one year only, KIM should be capable of building 4000 cars per month. But what cars?

Instead of buying a license for building a foreign economy class car (and there were quite a lot) the Soviet executives decided to test some contemporary models and to model their future "people's vehicle" on the most successful one. In February 1939, four candidates were intensively tested:

Opel Kadett K-38 1939Opel Kadett (by stenoja @ Flickr)

1939 Austin Big Seven Sixlite Saloon Type CRV

Austin Seven (by Austin7nut @ Flickr)

90 Ford E93A Prefect (1939-41)

Ford Prefect (by robertknight16 @ Flickr)

1938 Adler Trumpf Junior red vr

Adler Trumpf Junior (by stkone @ Flickr)

The Prefect proved itself as the best of four and was adopted as a prototype. The KIM-10 was modeled on this British sedan without being an exact copy - it was significantly longer, a bit wider and taller and had much higher clearance, making it more fit for the Russian roads. Its powertrain, a 1171 cc 30hp 4-stroke 4-cylinder side-valve petrol engine coupled to a three-speed manual gearbox, was a close copy of the 1.17-liter Ford.

1940 KIM-10 prototypeThe first KIM-10 was scheduled to roll out of the assembly line in January 1940 but the managers, engineers and workers were unfashionably late - the car was ready for the ready only on April 25. The legend says that Comrade Stalin didn't like the design: he found it "old-fashioned" and sent the KIM team back to the drawing board. Believe it or not, the KIM was redesigned.

1940 KIM-10-50The production model (KIM-10-50) body design was executed by designer-engineer V. Brodsky from Gorky Automotive Works. Technical drawings of the body and stamps were made in the United States by Budd, according to Brodsky's model. There was also a convertible variant designated KIM-10-51.

1940 KIM-10-51 convertibleKIM-10-50 and 10-51 were quite advanced for their time. They boasted a sound construction, reliable and fuel-efficient engine under an "alligator-type" bonnet, modern dashboard and V-shaped windshield (the first in the Land of Soviets). Nevertheless, the legend says that Comrade Stalin was unhappy with its two-door layout and ordered to design a larger car modeled on the Opel Olympia. Once again you can believe it or not. Now, take a look on a four-door prototype, built in Gorky, early 1941:

1941 KIM-10-52 4-door prototype

In the meanwhile, 500 two-door KIM-10s were assembled in Moscow. The plan remained the same - more than 4000 units monthly, 35 thousand sedans and 15 thousand convertibles a year. But soon after the production started the war broke out and KIM plant, still half-reformed, began to supply military equipment.

After the war, the same plant, renamed MZMA, started to build the Moskvich-400 - a clone of the German Opel Kadett K-38 (four-door version).

Source: Autowp.ru

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Comment by lord_k on July 23, 2012 at 2:43pm

Moskvich 400 = Kadett K-38 four-door, just as stated above.

KIM 10-52 is a Kadett-like body on a KIM platform.

Comment by Stephen Statler on July 23, 2012 at 2:34pm

The war came along and then after that the USSR took one of the GM Opel assembly lines back to the USSR and built this Opel type into the mid fifties. That Opel was maybe the Kadett? It looked like a small scale US Gm lower end car of the 1938-40-ish time frame.

Comment by lojzo on July 14, 2012 at 1:29am

Very interesting, Lord K.! I've never heard of this car, I thought that Moskvich was the first.

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