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ZAZ-965 "Humpbacked" - is it so similar to FIAT?

ZAZ-965 "Humpbacked" - is it so similar to FIAT?
In the Soviet Union, every lucky owner of a personal car became the envy of all fifty shades of gray for less fortunate fellow tribesmen. And it doesn't matter, "Volga", "Lada", "Moskvich" - the presence of four wheels with an internal combustion engine between them automatically raised the status of the owner to the level of the Lord of Life. But every rule has exceptions. And among the proud Soviet motorists there were those who, instead of pride, bought themselves a Zaporozhets.
Everyone strove to offend them. The owners of Moskvich and Zhiguli looked down on them with sympathy. Those who went to the "Volga" (I generally keep quiet about rare foreign cars at that time) simply did not notice them.

ЗАЗ-965 "Горбатый" - так ли он похож на FIAT?Model 965 is the firstborn of the ZAZ plant. Photo: youtube.com

"Horseless" fellow citizens, carefully hiding the envy that still breaks through, came up with jokes of varying degrees of causticity and vulgarity. The owner of Zaporozhets, although he could not argue in popularity with both Vasily Ivanovich and Petka, nevertheless, entered the folklore confidently and firmly.

Ten minutes of shame - and you're at work. It's about "Zaporozhets".
The Zaporozhets car is the kindest ghost with a motor in the world! It's also about him.
Zaporozhets is an eternal family car. Eternal - because no one can sell it. Family - because, except for the wife, not a single woman will agree to sit in it.

And the nicknames? Indeed, in the USSR, people came up with names, more often starting from the model index - “Troika”, “Seven” and “Kopek” instead of an ace. "Goat" GAZ-69 does not count, it was not sold to private hands.
But a small lineup of "Zaporozhets" otherwise than by nicknames, no one knew. Who remembered what ZAZ-965 and ZAZ-968 are? But "Hunchbacked" and "Eared" were known to everyone. Tavria, which came out later, tried to clean up family karma, but heavy heredity did not allow it.

But it all started differently

First of all - "Zaporozhets" ZAZ-965 was supposed to be born "Moskvich"!

Mid 50s. All of Europe, with varying degrees of success, is trying to recover from the big war. In the countries of failed capitalism, the production of affordable small cars is growing at an incredible pace. And the country of victorious socialism can offer its citizens (not from among the "people's" and "deserved") except "Moskvich-402", and even then at a price of 15000 rubles, which at that time was an amount close to the "first space" . There was no need to count on mass demand. However, production was not ready for really mass demand.

And the fellow citizens who defeated fascism and the post-war famine were already morally prepared not only to condemn the cult of personality, but also to drive en masse. And then the wise Soviet leadership decided to provide them with this steering wheel. Remember the slogan "The Party is our helmsman!"? It's not about that, but it fits the situation very well.

Specialists from the MZMA and NAMI were called upon to ensure mass motorization of the population.

It must be said that domestic engineers smeared their bread with caviar not in vain - they had promising developments. And, very interesting. However, the car is not enough to come up with. It’s also not bad to assemble it - and it’s not bad to assemble it at the same time. But with this there were problems. The Soviet automotive industry was not ready to implement the bold and progressive ideas of Soviet engineers.

When creating the "Zaporozhets", its Western competitors were carefully studied, in particular the Volkswagen Beetle and Fiat Photo: youtube.com

In connection with this, a directive "from above" was received: to carefully study the "advanced experience of backward capitalists." Moreover, not only on the subject of the car itself, but also the nuances of production technology.
As a result of a long and captious casting, a three-door small car FIAT-600 was chosen as an object to follow.

"Stolen again!" - boring haters will say and they will be wrong. Firstly, everyone does this and it is called “adopting progressive experience”. Secondly, despite the apparent similarity, ZAZ-965 and FIAT-600 are different cars.
From Fiat, the future Zaporozhets got only the general layout and some technological solutions. In particular, the sidewall of the body, made as a single part, uniting the door opening and the rear wing. And the “suicidal” doors themselves, hung on the rear hinges, are the legacy of the Italian prototype.

We will return to the design, but for now let's find out one point.

How promising Moskvich suddenly became Zaporozhets

Actually, everything is simple here. Moscow engineers did their job, invented the car. But the MZMA plant itself, which was busy producing the 402nd Moskvich and preparing for the release of the 407th, had no desire to master the new model.
A suitable factory was found in Ukraine (however, then still in Ukraine), in the city of Zaporozhye. Someone must have already figured out the connection, right? Before that, the Kommunar plant produced combines, seeders and other agricultural mechanization. “Upstairs” decided: if they can assemble a large combine, can’t they really master a small car? So the future ZAZ-965 ended up in Zaporozhye.

Who does not know, this is how Zaporozhye will be in Ukrainian. It is in Russia there "Padmaskovye", and in Ukraine - "Zaparizhie". Do you understand now why Ukrainians have visa-free entry to the European Union? Is it possible not to let a person who has come from Zaparizhiye into Paris?

However, the whole car was not entrusted to the descendants of the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks. Engine production was located in Melitopol, at the future MeMZ plant.

Well, after a brief background, let's pay attention to the car itself?
Two-door coupe-type body, rear-engine layout, rear-wheel drive, air cooling ... Yes, this is a Porsche! Unless the engine is boxer.

Power point

The motor may not be boxer, like the Porsche, but not the inline four, like the Fiat. V-shaped, for a second, four-cylinder eight-valve engine "Zaporozhets" had a working volume of 750 "cubes" and squeezed out 23 horsepower. With a curb weight of 665 kg, the figure is quite decent. The same Fiat had comparable power. Later, on the 965A modification, the working volume was increased to 0,9 liters, and the power increased to 27 hp.

Access to units is simply amazing! Photo: youtube.com

I must say that the rear-mounted air-cooled engine predictably had problems with cooling. In the warm season (and in the cold season, Zaporozhets were almost never driven), the engine often worked with overheating. This inconvenience was partly offset by the simplicity of design, excellent maintainability and excellent accessibility.
The gearbox is four-speed, with synchronizers in 2nd and 4th gears. Due to the fact that the gearbox is located at the rear and the lever is at the front, the driver did not have to burden his brain with terms such as “shift clarity” or “shift lever travel”. Because this is not about Zaporozhets.


If we talk about the chassis, then the main thing to say is that the ZAZ-965 became the first Soviet car with a fully independent suspension of all wheels!
Having carefully studied the front suspension of the FIAT-600, Soviet engineers considered it good to throw it in the trash. For ZAZ-965, a scheme was applied on double trailing arms with transverse torsion bars. She was spied on a Volkswagen Beetle. By the way, this decision made it possible to move the pedal assembly forward, thereby increasing the space for the driver's legs.
A feature of the rear suspension was its some "clubfoot" - the camber of the wheels depended heavily on the loading of the car.

A similar "clubfoot" rear suspension scheme could be seen on Tatra cars. Photo: youtube.com

A small curb weight, independent long-travel suspension, good loading of the drive wheels, a short base, 175 mm of ground clearance - off-road, the 965 could compete with many modern crossovers.
As for controllability, she was not recorded among the benefactors of Zaporozhets as unnecessary. Moreover, the maximum speed of the “Soviet Porsche” did not even reach 100 km / h. But in fact, not every driver had the courage to accelerate faster than 60 km / h.

Body and interior

Brushing aside rocks flying from those who claim that the "humpback" was copied from the FIAT-600, let's take a closer look and admit: they are similar, but they are different! If only because if the 965 had been copied from Fiat, it would never have received the nickname "Hunchback". The “Six Hundredth” has a sloping back, while the “Zaporozhets” has an engine compartment at the back, emphasizing the characteristic “hump” of the roof. What about the rear fenders? Smooth for ZAZ and convex for Fiat.

From this perspective, all claims of kinship with Fiat fall away. Photo: youtube.com

Let me remind you that the main paradigm for the creation of the ZAZ-965 was the need to give the population a simple and inexpensive car. Hence - the use of budget, but not miserable, and often even elegant solutions. How do you like, for example, the rear window, interchangeable with the windshield? I caught a stone from the road - I just took off the rubber bands, swapped the windows and drove on. Brilliant!

On such a tiny machine, the wheels were 13-inch! Photo: youtube.com

And the salon! Yes, he is very simple, but he is cute! There's even a stove here! Autonomous, liquid, own. True, not all owners risked using it - there were often cases of spontaneous combustion. But, given that the ZAZ-965 was positioned on the market as an alternative to the Ural motorcycle with a sidecar (and, by the way, it cost only one and a half times more), the level of comfort is simply luxurious! In addition, if the motorcycle is designed for three, then four are placed in the Zaporozhets.

There are no toggle levers. Light, wipers and turn signals are controlled by toggle switches on the central panel. Photo: youtube.com

There is even room for luggage! It is clear that you can’t put much in the tiny space in front, and the proximity to the gas tank is alarming. But there is a small “nick” behind the back seat. And if you throw out two passengers and fold the back of the sofa, the Hunchback turns almost into a truck.

In such a trunk, even a small suitcase will not fit. In addition, there is a danger that things will smell of gasoline. Photo: youtube.com

However, most owners solved the problem easier - by installing a roof rack.


We must honestly admit that if you approach the Zaporozhets with a modern arshin, it can hardly be called even a utilitarian car. In today's realities, he is simply dangerous. But at the turn of the 50-60s, he was quite in the flow of his time. Even in comparison with European competitors. By the way, "Hunchback" was well exported, and not only to the countries of the socialist camp.

The salon is simple but nice. Why not a car for girls of the 60s? Photo: youtube.com

The 965 once again proves that the Soviet engineering school of automotive engineering was capable of creating modern and progressive cars. If not for socialist production.
In total, from 1960 to 1969, over 320 thousand Humpbacks were produced. And some of them are still alive.

Particularly handy enthusiasts are able to turn the 965th into such a miracle. Photo: youtube.com

It is gratifying that there are enthusiasts who give new life to old cars. It's so nice to feel a second youth when you're over fifty. It costs a lot!


Photos used: youtube.com

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