The car with the beautiful and symbolic name "Victory" has become one of the symbols of the Soviet Union, without losing its charm and charm over the decades. This passenger car was mass-produced at the Gorky Automobile Plant from 1946 to 1958. The first "Pobeda" (factory index of the M-20 model) rolled off the GAZ assembly line on June 28, 1946, on that very day 70 years ago the serial production of this model started. In total, from June 28, 1946 to May 31, 1958, 241,497 vehicles of this type were assembled in Gorky, including 37,492 taxis and 14,222 cabriolets rare for the Soviet Union.
The GAZ-M-20 became the first Soviet passenger car with a monocoque body and one of the world's first large-volume vehicles produced with a monocoque 4-door pontoon body that did not have separate fenders, headlights and footrests. In our country, "Victory" has become truly cult, and today thousands of fans of the model are chasing the now preserved retro cars. On the territory of the USSR, "Pobeda" became the first mass passenger car. Before her, cars for personal use were considered in the country only as a government award.
A well-known anecdote is also connected with the car. When Joseph Stalin was shown the car and offered its first name, "Motherland", he frowned and asked with a smile: "Well, how much will we have a Motherland?" On the same day, the name was changed to "Victory", under which the car went down in history forever. However, all of the above is nothing more than a beautiful legend. The car was originally planned to be named "Victory" in honor of the upcoming victory in the war with Nazi Germany, and the name "Motherland" was just an internal plant.
Work on the creation of the GAZ-M-20 Pobeda car began during the war years. The government assignment for the design and preparation for serial production of a new passenger car that would meet all modern trends in the global automotive industry and have better performance characteristics compared to the GAZ-M1 was received by GAZ management back in December 1941. Surprisingly, this was not an order for a truck, not for a tractor for cannons, or even for an ambulance, but for an ordinary passenger car, which was very symbolic. But at that time, the plant was completely focused on the production of military equipment and the project was simply postponed. At the same time, at the very end of 1941, a captured German Opel Kapitan of 1938 was delivered to Gorky. It was decided to choose this car as a prototype, since it best corresponded to the requirements of the received terms of reference and the ideas of Soviet designers about what exactly a modern passenger car should be.
In practice, work on the creation of a new passenger car began at the Molotov automobile plant in Gorky only in 1943 after the victory that the Red Army won at Stalingrad. According to the sketches of the artist Veniamin Samoilov, plaster models of the future car were made on a scale of 1 to 5, and according to the most successful model, a life-size model of mahogany was made. Work on the passenger car was not interrupted even after the large-scale bombing of GAZ by German aircraft in June 1943.
It was the artist Samoilov who created the unique and recognizable look of the car to this day. Unlike the final version of "Victory", the rear doors of Samoilov's car were hung on the rear pillar of the body and opened in the same way as in the German Opel Kapitan backwards, against the course of the car. Unfortunately, the artist himself never saw his brainchild in metal: he died tragically after finishing work on the model's sketches.
The first prototype "Pobeda" was assembled on November 6, 1944, and Andrey Aleksandrovich Lipgart, the chief designer of the Gorky Automobile Plant, personally brought the sample outside the gates of the plant to the test site. Soon two more cars came for testing. Unlike the serial GAZ-M-20 cars, they differed in the presence of a 6-cylinder engine from the GAZ 11-73 car (an upgraded version of the GAZ-M1, which was produced during the war years). This engine was produced under license from the American company Dodge. In the line of future cars "Pobeda" there should have been a place both for cars with a 6-cylinder engine (modernized Dodge D5) and with a 4-cylinder engine.
At the same time, the first modification with a 6-cylinder engine was to become the main one, and the second was originally developed for taxi fleets. However, later it was decided to abandon the version with a 6-cylinder engine in favor of a 4-cylinder version. This was done in connection with considerations of fuel economy, in the post-war years in the country there was simply not enough fuel, as well as the simplification of the car design. The 4-cylinder GAZ engine was unified in detail with another more powerful version, representing a "six" truncated by a third, which was later widely used on ZIM machines and GAZ trucks, in particular the famous GAZ-51.
For the mid-1940s, Pobeda was a fully revolutionary machine. Borrowing from the German Opel Kapitan of 1938 the structure of the load-bearing body (load-bearing elements and internal panels), the designers of the Gorky Automobile Plant were able to completely rethink the appearance of the car and were able to adopt a number of such innovations, which would become widespread in the West only a few years later. The German Opel Kapitan had 4 doors, with the front doors opening in the direction of the car, and the rear ones in the opposite direction. On the GAZ-M-20, all 4 doors opened in the direction of the car - in the traditional way today. The modern (at that time) appearance of the Soviet car acquired thanks to the presence of a belt line, the combination of the front and rear fenders with the body, as well as the absence of decorative steps, a memorable alligator-type hood, headlights mounted in the front part of the body and other characteristic details, which in the middle of 1940 -s were not yet familiar.
For the first time in the practice of the Soviet automotive industry on the GAZ-M-20 "Pobeda", independent suspension of the front wheels, a hydraulic brake drive, electric brake lights and direction indicators, a hinge of all doors on the front hinges, an alligator-type hood, two electric windshield wipers were serially used and a thermostat in the cooling system. For the first time on a domestic passenger car of this class, an interior heater with a windshield blower was installed as standard equipment.
The working volume of the 4-cylinder engine chosen for "Victory" was 2, 112 liters, it developed a maximum power of 50 hp. This motor provided maximum torque at 3600 rpm. The engine has earned a reputation for being reliable, high-torque and durable. However, the Pobeda engine clearly lacked power, which was also noted by foreign journalists in their reviews of the car (the car was also exported). Up to a speed of 50 km / h, the car accelerated quite briskly, but then a failure was indicated in acceleration. The speed of 100 km / h "Pobeda" reached only 45 seconds, and the maximum speed of the car was limited to 105 km / h. It is curious that for its time the GAZ-M-20 was a fairly economical car, but by modern standards, the fuel consumption for an engine of such a working volume was high. According to technical data, the car consumed 11 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, the operating consumption was 13.5 liters, and the real fuel consumption was from 13 to 15 liters per 100 kilometers. The compression ratio of the engine of the GAZ M-20 "Pobeda" car allowed it to work normally on the lowest-grade, "66" gasoline.
The effective lever shock absorbers could also be highlighted - the car was distinguished by good smoothness, as well as hydraulic drum brakes with common all-wheel drive. The latter were used for the first time in the Soviet automobile industry. The mechanism of the brakes realized was very simple - the pads were bred by one hydraulic cylinder in each of the 4 brake drums.
At the time of the start of serial production, "Pobeda" favorably distinguished itself by its advanced design and modern construction, but by the beginning of the 1950s, a number of design flaws of the car had become obvious - first of all, the low functionality of the selected fastback body type (very low headroom above the rear seat, almost complete lack of rearward visibility, a rather modest trunk volume, a nasty aerodynamic effect, which was associated with the appearance of lift when driving at high speed, as well as a strong susceptibility to side wind drift. with a fastback body did not take root anywhere in the world. By the mid-1950s, the aggregate part of the car ceased to correspond to the world level (first of all, we are talking about the low-valve engine). From 1952-1954, on most American and many new European car models began to install overhead valve engines, bent st ekla, hypoid rear axles, etc.
Although the serial production of "Victory" started in Gorky on June 28, 1946, by the end of 1946, only 23 cars were assembled at GAZ. Truly mass production of cars was only launched on April 28, 1947. It is noteworthy that the GAZ-M-20 became the first passenger car in the USSR, which, in addition to the factory index, had its own name - "Pobeda". The letter "M" in the factory index of the car meant the word "Molotovets" - from 1935 to 1957, the Gorky Automobile Plant bore the name of the People's Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov. The number “20” meant that the car belonged to a new model range, which was distinguished by a reduced engine displacement (up to “two liters”). Models of the senior line of GAZ were designated as "1x" - GAZ-12 "ZIM" and GAZ-13 "Chaika". In subsequent years, this indexation at the plant was retained - GAZ-21 "Volga" and Gaz-24 "Volga"
The first cars "Pobeda" were distributed exclusively according to instructions "from above" and signed by Molotov himself. At the initial stage, there were not enough cars even for the heroes of the country and laureates of Stalin's prizes. And yet Pobeda became a car that was available to consumers. In the first Soviet motor show, located in Moscow, wealthy citizens had a choice between Moskvich-401 (9 thousand rubles), Pobeda (16 thousand rubles) and the mind-blowingly expensive ZIM for the Soviet Union (40 thousand rubles). It is worth noting that at that time the salary of an experienced qualified engineer was approximately 600 rubles. Even then, "Pobeda" enjoyed great love among Soviet motorists, but for many it was a pipe dream. Due to the high price, there was no rush demand for GAZ M-20 in the country. In fairness, it should be noted that the "Moskvichs" 400 and 401, which were sold for 8 and 9 thousand rubles, respectively, were not in great demand from Soviet citizens. Despite this, GAZ was able to produce and sell 241,497 Pobeda vehicles.
The car went well for export. Mainly "Pobeda" were exported to Finland, where taxi drivers loved the car, to the Scandinavian countries, as well as to Belgium, where a lot of Soviet cars were always sold. It should be noted that the taxi in Finland as a mass phenomenon arose largely thanks to the Soviet "Victory". Until that moment, all local taxi companies were equipped with various pre-war models. In the 1950s, the first "Victories" appeared in Great Britain, where they were sold by Belgian dealers of the Gorky Automobile Plant, as well as in the USA, where private persons imported cars from Europe, mainly out of curiosity. At the same time, initially this Soviet car received quite favorable and positive reviews in the West.
Pobeda was also produced under license in other countries. So, since 1951, the car was produced in Poland under the Warszawa brand, the cars were produced at the FSO plant (Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych). In Poland, this car was produced much longer than in the USSR. Production of "Warsaw" continued until 1973, however, the car has undergone major upgrades. In particular, late releases of the car received an overhead valve engine and new bodies: "sedan", "pickup" and "station wagon". At the same time, starting in 1956, the car was assembled exclusively from Polish-made components. In total, 254,372 cars of this type were assembled in Poland - more than in the Soviet Union the original "Victories" were collected.