How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

How “Fiat” 124 became “Zhiguli”

Critics of the domestic auto industry, who scold him for borrowing, often lack understanding how difficult it is not only to create a car from scratch, but even to make a “local” version of the finished model provided by the partner. Everyone knows that the VAZ-2101 has Italian roots and is almost an exact replica of the Fiat 124. The key word here is “almost”!

Refinement of foreign cars under the harsh Soviet conditions was not limited to the replacement of nameplates, as one might think. Behind this word was the long-term work of testers and design engineers. On the transformation of Fiat in Lada could write a book, and in the framework of the article we present some interesting facts from this story.

In the USSR of the “dozhigulevskoy” era, a personal (as they said, private) car was more exotic than commonplace. It was not only in price: the operation of the car was fraught with considerable difficulties, but it was too non-mass to appear in every Soviet court.

In the mid-sixties, the top party leadership of the country made a decision on the implementation of its own “people's car” project,but not the Soviet development, and license. And not because “in the country of the atom and space there were no minds”: a machine competitive even “they have”, thanks to export, could help the country with advice on the receipt of such necessary currency for the economy. In other words, the project was conceived with the original aim "abroad".

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;
Fiat 124 (early modification)

Several options were considered as potential partners, primarily from “friendly” countries. Renault 16 could have become a “penny”, but ... they did not agree. </ P>
Instead, France chose Italy, namely the concern FIAT, which offered the most favorable conditions. In addition, political considerations also influenced the final choice of a foreign partner: as one General Secretary of the USSR aptly put it, “Italians are closer to us than the French.”

On August 8, 1966, the USSR auto industry minister A. Tarasov and FIAT president V. Valletta signed a cooperation agreement in Moscow, the result of which was the giant factory for the production of passenger cars, the licensed Fiat 124, which also became a 1967 automobile. However, the preliminary agreement was signed earlier - in 1965, and it, in turn, was preceded by the arrival of FIAT owner Giovanni Agnelli in the USSR.

The new car was a pioneer in everything.After all, a plant was built for him, which became a city-forming enterprise, breathing new life into the former Stavropol-on-Volga. Since 1964, this city in the Samara region began to bear the name of the Italian Communist leader Palmiro Tolyatti. And it was here that the Soviet auto giant began to be built, which was explained by the geographical advantage of the location of the city on the banks of the Volga from the point of view of logistics.

In parallel with the start of construction of the plant, new Fiats began to drive both into the tail and into the mane in different climatic zones of the USSR - from the warm Crimea to the cold regions of Vorkuta, and they also checked the cars at the test site.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

Already at the very beginning of the tests, it became clear that just in the literal sense, the Italian sissy scattered on the Russian “autobahn” would not arise on the Soviet conveyor - serious improvements are required. For example, after several trips on Soviet roads, a crack was found on the roof in the central rack area, which led to the separation of the rack from the sidewall (!). The Italians quickly began to refine both the body and other parts of the car, adapting it to the new operating conditions. The upgraded version of the assigned index "R" (Russia). </ P>
In the process of improvements, Soviet designers found out that the car with an index of 124 has seven or eight transmission versions, differing in the characteristics of gear ratios and endurance. After a series of tests, it was decided to use more durable synchronizers from the 124 Sport gearbox. This is probably why the box has always been one of the most reliable parts of the first Zhiguli.

Outside, it is easy and simple to distinguish the true Fiat Model 124 from the “penny” thanks to the door handles: they are protruding from the Italian car, “to the natural grip”, while the Zhiguli have safety ones. Such pens, by the way, appeared on later versions of the 124th. Another difference is the more massive fangs of the bumper, again quite fiatovskie, and in the literal sense (on the part of cars 1970-1971 due to the lack of components put parts of Italian production from Fiat).

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

As a name for the new Soviet compact car, caring citizens offered almost 50,000 (!) Options. Novorozhets, Katyusha, Aurora, VIL-100 and even the Directive - what ideas were there! However, the “geographical” name of Zhiguli was approved as the final version.Moreover, for export, it had to be replaced with a more harmonious “Lada”, since it was difficult for foreigners to even read the word “Lada”. Not to mention the fact that this seemingly naive Soviet toponym is consonant with the word Gigolo, which is used in many languages ​​of the world (including Russian) to mean, say, “easy behavior” for men.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;
1970 VAZ-2101 with fiat fangs

The most important differences from Fiat Zhiguley hiding inside. The main thing is the "heart". The VAZ-2101 engine differed from the “donor” by a different center-to-center distance of the cylinders and an upper arrangement of the camshaft instead of the lower one. The Soviet delegation "spied" this decision on the test stands in Italy, although the Italians themselves insisted on an outdated scheme. However, the Soviet side categorically rejected the “lower shaft”. And as the world practice of the next forty years shows, it did it right. Indeed, in the future, the camshaft migrated to the cylinder head absolutely on all similar cars. </ P>
In fairness it should be noted that the progressive innovation of the first ten years was worth a lot of strength, tears,rubles and nerves to the owners of "kopecks" - the problem of rapidly wearing camshafts was technologically solved only by 1982, and psychologically ... To better understand the scale of the disaster: in the seventies, Lada in the parking lot could be opened to steal the camshaft.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;
VAZ-2101 engine with overhead camshaft

In addition to radical changes in the engine, the “Russian Fiat” also received the diameter of the clutch overlays increased to 200 mm, a modified gearbox, a reinforced front and a modernized five-post rear wheel suspension. The main difference between the “penny” and Fiat in the rear part was hidden under the rims - instead of “brake discs that were easily splashed with liquid mud” (from the report of the test commission), archaic drum brakes checked by time (and then damned by thousands of owners) were used.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

The body demanded amplification in many places, and also acquired the indispensable attributes of any Soviet car - a hole for the “crooked starter” and towing eyes. As a result, the total number of improvements and upgrades of the “Russian Fiat” reached the number 800!

When launching a new model, the designers were faced with the fact that the country simply does not have the appropriate new oils and lubricants - it was necessary, together with the Italians, to develop Soviet counterparts based on Italian recipes. After all, the Italian "sissy" could not be content with M8 oil, brake fluid based on castor oil and tap water as a coolant. So "Russian Fiat" has become a kind of locomotive for the development of the chemical industry of the USSR - at least that of its industry, which was responsible for automotive products.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

The upgraded "penny" is easily distinguished by the "leaky" front panel and the absence of fangs on the bumpers.

An interesting detail: in the process of testing according to the Fiat method Stop & Go with multiple starts and riding on a semi-heated engine in the low temperature range (up to -32..34 Celsius in January-February 1969 in the vicinity of Moscow!) It was revealed that the oil level in the crankcase in just a week it rises by 1.5-2 cm due to gasoline entering it from the over-enriched fuel-air mixture. In addition, this led to the flushing of oil from the walls of the cylinders, which, in turn, greatly accelerated the wear of the cylinder-piston group.

In the process of joint development of lubrication for the engine, it turned out that ... experimental Soviet samples turned out to be better than foreign oil! At first, the Italians did not even believe it, and according to legend, secretly from the Russians, they sent a miracle-lubricant by plane to Turin. From there, they confirmed: “Zhiguli oil” did indeed withstand the tough Stop & Go tests. In addition, frost tests showed that the covers of ball bearings and steering rods, which lost their elasticity and simply burst, need to be improved.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot; 

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

Late Fiat 124 Special reminds of 21011 modification in many elements

Despite noticeable changes in comparison with the original, the first VAZ-2101 was assembled with a large use of imported parts, of course, made in Italy. Subsequently, production was increasingly “localized”, and by 1974 the presence of Italians in Togliatti was completely imperceptible.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

By the way, it was then that the VAZ-2101, the version with the index 21011, began to produce its own facelift. It differed in both the more powerful engine of 1.3 liters and some cosmetic changes in the exterior and interior. And it was in this form that the modification 21013 with a 2101 engine with a volume of 1.2 liters (yes, by the way, that got on the conveyor in 1970!) Was produced at VAZ right up to 1988.

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However, the ancestor of the 124th was later produced not only in the USSR or Russia: under different names and in various parts of the world, the former Fiat 124 was produced for a long time, only a little “not getting” before the 50th anniversary as a new car. All in all, in the expanses of the former USSR, various factories produced about 15 million (!) Rear-wheel drive cars, leading their ancestry from the Italian midget car of the mid-sixties.

Thanks to the “Soviet registration”, the four-wheeled citizen of the world 124th model, along with the Ford T and Volkswagen Kafer, became one of the most popular cars in the entire world history.

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

VAZ-2101 release before 1974 can be easily distinguished by a circular mirror located on the wing

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;Spanish deuce - Seat 124 Familiare
Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;Premier - "penny" in Indian</div>
Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

 

Like & quot; Fiat & quot; 124 became & quot; Zhiguli & quot;

"Six" and "Seven" - the most popular for the production of models based on the Fiat 124.

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  • How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli

    How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli How the Fiat 124 became a Zhiguli