Red square. Moscow, Russia. Moskvich cars were produced by MZMA factory (Later and currently AZLK) in Moscow and by "Izh" factory in the city of Izhevsk. There are a lot of reasons why I love that car. I'll mention some of them. Firstly it was designed and built in my home city Moscow (I currently live in Vancouver, Canada and I'm going back to Moscow only in 2003). Secondly, It was the first car I was ever taken for a ride with. I was just a couple of days old when my dad and my grandmother (who possessed a Moskvich-408) came to take my mother home from the clinic where she gave birth to me, your obedient servant :-). By the way about the meaning of "Moskvich": It means somebody who was born in Moscow consequently I'm a moskvich too :-). There are also a lot of technical reasons. For instance: The 412 engine is made of aluminum and has removable cylinders. Consequently the engine is very light and easy to remove from the car. The removable cylinders enable me to rebuilt the engine as many times I want (which is very important considering the way I drive). Also it is possible to change piston rings without even opening the oil tray. Just remove the head and cylinders, and change the rings. I also want to mention the fact that the 412 engine had an overhead camshaft which is not a usual thing for a '1967 model. One more advantage of this engine is that it has no intermediate shaft and the oil pump with the distributor are driven directly by crankshaft. The oil pump can be easily removed and replaced without opening the oil tray. The front suspension is incredibly reliable and undestroyable.
NOTE: I basically reference here the models I used to own and consequently deal with plus some recent models. The factory used to produce much bigger variety of models.


The models I describe here were basically equipped with 2 engines: 408 and 412. The 408 is a 1360cc OHV engine and 412 is a 1500cc OHC engine. My favorite is 412. Moskvich-408 was respectively equipped with 408 engine and all the other models with 412. (Some of 2141 were equipped with Lada-2106 Ford Diesel and Renault 2.0 engines but they are not worth your attention)

Here are some Moskvich cars that I used to possess (in chronological sequence):

- '1975 Moskvich-412 AZLK
- '1966 Moskvich-408 MZMA
- '1982 Moskvich-2140
- '1980 Moskvich-2140
- '1974 Moskvich-412 Izh
- '1965 Moskvich-408 MZMA
- '1994 Moskvich-2141

My '75 M-412 AZLK

I was a student at the Moscow State Academy of Automobile and Tractor Machine Engineering. I didn't have any income but I wanted a car badly so I bought what I could get for what I had. That was the rustiest car I've seen in my entire life. The floor was missing in many places, especially behind the driver's seat. Even the driver's seat itself was much lower than it was supposed to be. The car had been rolled over and by at least 50% consisted of filling. :-) Rusty holes were all around the body. The body was actually just about to split, I still wonder what actually held it from doing so. When I bought the car, some piston rings were broken but the engine could start somehow. I even managed to drive home. After I changed the piston rings I had no further problems starting the engine. It would start even if the temperature was below -20C with almost flat battery. After driving this car for several month I bought a M-408 and took this one for spare parts.

My '66 M-408 MZMA

I bought the car partially disassembled. All the lights, radiator grill, front wings and some parts of the engine were taken of. Rear wings were replaced with new ones. The inlet manifold was cracked and one core plug was out because the previous owner left the car for winter with water in the cooling system. The fuel tank was filled with water and rubbish by children. After assembly and fixing all the problems the engine started and worked fine except for a big oil leak at the back of the engine (this way the car consumed approximately 10 liters a day). The only oil I could afford was an old oil mixed with transmission oil from the disposal points. This way I drove this car as a taxi for 6 month every day after my lessons at the Academy. When I sold the car I got almost double of what I bought it for. The only investments were brake pads and brake fluid.

My '82 M-2140

Nothing really unusual was about that car apart may be from being painted into to colors. I fixed the gearbox, changed the exhaust system, drove it for some time and eventually sold it to buy a Volvo-343 (my first foreign car)

My '80 M-2140

The engine was just about to have a heart attack when I bought the car. However I made several thousands kilometers before I got rolled over while doing one of my crazy stunts. The cause was the condition of rear shocks. I spent 3 days bringing the body to normal shape. When I had done so, I had to get rid of the car.

My '74 M-412 Izh

The engine was also just about to burst, and it did so after several thousands kilometers. One of the connecting rod bearings became a foil :-). I seriously rebuilt the engine (that was the first time I had enough money to do so). I changed crankshaft, pistons, cylinders (they are removable), and even the head with the camshaft. I'd never heard an engine work so fine! I also changed the gearbox. Once I got a hole in the fuel tank after driving on a state farm field. I changed the tank immediately because I needed the car urgently. I did it in the night almost without light. I didn't notice the wire which got between the tank and the car's body. The tank I installed also had a hole but in the top pat so that there was always some petrol in the trunk. We were going to a disco to another village with two cars (the company was big). At one point of our travel I notice that something was strange with the light (It was night). The light went off but I didn't stop. A minute or so later, my friend (another car's driver) Stopped to tell me a secret from another part of the company. When we went behind my car to talk, we spotted a flame inside the trunk of my car. I opened the trunk and huge flame went out. My friend brought a fire extinguisher from his car but it wouldn't stop the flame. There was no water around and so no way to extinguish the fire. I decided to abandon the car. There were two girls in my car and they were drunk. I told them to leave the car because it is going to burn. They didn't believe me. They thought I'm just kidding and I just want them out of my car. I went back to the trunk. Suddenly, I spotted a 5 liter bottle between flames in the bottom of the trunk in that mess that I usually have there. Luckily it was full of water and somehow I managed to stop the fire with it. In the morning I went estimate the damage and to my good surprise there was almost no damage. Only the wiring, the carpet and some other stuff that I kept there. It didn't take long to fix everything and to change the fuel tank again. I had really great time with that car. Once a policeman stopped me for speeding (120km/h) with 8 people aboard. I drove the car for several month before something unexpected happened. I parked the car behind a big truck. The driver happened to be drunk and did not looked into his rear view mirror as he reversed. He escaped. I fixed the damage and sold the car to my friend who didn't mind the car having been in that accident.

My '65 M-408 MZMA

My ex girlfriend mother gave this car to me as she bought a new one. The car was in perfect condition with very low mileage, although it was 30 years old. It was always in a garage and it was used only in summers no more then once a week for travel to a country house. The only problems were a radiator leak and water pump bearings. I installed a Lada-Samara radiator and electric fan (!). I fixed the fuel pump as well. I also installed a stereo which was actually more expensive then the car itself. The rear suspension could not stay my off-road adventures and got off the body in 2 of 4 mounting points. That is how I noticed that some places underneath were rusty. That was actually why the problem occurred. I welded the rusty parts. I sold the car eventually. Now I regret it.

My '94 M-2141

Finally... My last Moskvich car. The 2141 is totally different from the previous models. The only same part is the engine (with some minor improvements). It's a front wheel drive car. It is equipped with 5 spd gearbox. The car had a Propane system installed. When I got the car, I made some tune-up and fixed every single problem. I changed the exhaust manifold, rear springs (the previous owner installed springs from Lada-2104 and they were too big), rear hub bearings, heater radiator. I also arranged the mess of hoses created by the previous owner. I used to drive the car on ice of a frozen canal. Every winter some enthusiasts make a 5km track there. The car is just great! I eventually traded the car for a Volvo-245 for a change.

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Dmitri Pronine

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