On December 4, 1946, the first Moskvich 40 was assembled at the Moscow small cars plant. The replica of the pre-war German Opel Kadett became the first true full-production economy car ever made in the Soviet Union.
The Moskvich could reach a maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour and, apart from a few differences, was almost an exact copy of the German-made Opel Kadett K38.
Joseph Stalin himself initiated the release of the Soviet version, after setting his sights on the German car during an exhibition at the Kremlin in 1941. This cheap and convenient car impressed the Soviet leader and he imagined it as the first “people’s car.” Although the Opel was a pre-war model (released in 1938), it was fairly modern and well suited for in-line production.
When World War II ended in 1945, Stalin ordered the production assets of the Opel Kadett factory, which was located in the Soviet-occupied part of Germany, to be moved to Moscow. The Moscow small cars plant took advantage of the experience acquired by their German colleagues and developed the first model of the Moskvich series, the 400.
The brand-new Soviet car went into serial production in 1947 with a stylized image of the Kremlin Wall on the grill. As the first car available on sale for private use, it was affordable for an average Soviet family, costing only 9,000 rubles, while similar class cars were twice as expensive.
Year after year the Moskvich 400 was modernized, but production ended in 1956 and the model was replaced with Moskvich 402.
The 247,439 Moskvich 400 models produced in the Soviet Union between 1946 to 1956 enjoyed great popularity. Today, the demand among collectors and restorers for the Moskvich series is very large. For many, these cars have become a pass into the world of vintage cars.