Monday, June 15, 2015

GAZ M-20 Pobeda: First True Soviet Car

The GAZ M-20 Pobeda ("Victory") was the first Soviet car not based on existing Western automobiles, as this Wikipedia entry indicates.  The entry is worth reading because it provides plenty of details that are probably unfamiliar to non- Soviet Bloc area readers.

It seems that planning for the car began in 1943 as the tide of war in Europe was turning toward the Allies.  Styling is credited to Veniamin Samoilov who seems to have been aware of American and other Western design trends prior to Hitler's invasion of Russia in June of 1941.

Styling the Pobeda was easier than producing it.  As the link above indicates, a few were built as early as 1946, but it wasn't until 1949 that mass-production was achieved.  Production in Russia ended in 1958.


Styling mockup of the M-20 in a photo apparently taken in 1944.  The basic design elements are the same as those found on many clay models made in the wartime years by Ford and Chrysler, among others.  These included a fastback roof shape and flow-through or pontoon fenders.

A side view I found on the Web, seemingly a scan from a magazine article.  It had a fairly large blind spot aft of the rear door, so ideally should have had a six-window passenger cabin.

Photo of a running Pobeda.  This, and the image above show how high the body rides above the ground -- probably necessary given the nature of Russian roads in the 1950s.  Awkward details include the abrupt transition of the headlight housings to the fender tops and the exposed hinges at the bottoms of the doors.  Charitable explanations for these are (1) the headlamps used were not planned for inclusion earlier in the design process, and (2) Russians were far less experienced designing cars than their Western counterparts.  (Who, even so, were using exposed hinges as late as cars styled during the 1930s and marketed during the early postwar years.)  Otherwise, Pobeda styling is unobjectionable given its era.

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