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About GAZ M-20 "Victory"


GAZ M-20 "Pobeda" - Soviet motor vehicle, serially produced at the Gorky Automobile Plant in 1946-1958. Factory index of the model - GAZ-M-20. The first Soviet passenger car with a monocoque body and one of the first world's largest mass-produced vehicles with a body of a fully pontoon type, without protruding wings and their rudiments, footrests and headlights. The serial production car of "Victory" began on June 28, 1946. Totally there were 235,999 vehicles produced, including 14,222 convertibles and 37,492 taxis.


In late winter 1943 Lipgart participating in the mass of People's comissariat of general machine industry, presented a new plan for the development of new cars. There was "Victory" in his list, which had a clear drawing and approximate specifications. This car had original exterior and good performance, so constructors, designers and engineers immediately set about developing it.

Andrew Lipgart and Kirillov are examining the first plastic layout of GAZ M-20

Andrew Lipgart and Kirillov are examining the first plastic layout of GAZ M-20

But in the summer of 1943, on the eve of World War II, Molotov plant was hit by the terrible bombing of Nazis. For the short period of time there were at least 25 attacks, which destroyed about 6000 units of different technological equipment and damaged more than 9 thousand meters of assembly lines. But even these difficulties did not stop designers and every day "Victory" was gaining more and more sophisticated appearance. After almost a year, with he help of method of graphic plastic the first full-scale model of the car in the USSR made of wood was shown.

The first full-scale wooden model of GAZ M-20, 1944

Everything seemed to be fine, but after the careful examination of a construction the professionals found errors and defects. The first thing was about the front wing, which had beautiful shape, but when you looked at it from different positions, it seemed visually concave. Then it was decided to change the curvature of constant radius, namely to reduce it. By the way, during the development of "Victory", designers were the first in the Soviet Union to use the method of development (it was a completely new method of the image of adjacent spaces at the same surface). The second problem faced by Lipgart was metallurgists. They noticeably lacked broad metal sheets for the manufacture of large parts required by the future GAZ M20. But the work was constantly moving forward and in the autumn of 1944 Lipgart first conducted a small test drive of "Victory" sample. This copy had two moldings of a radiator, wheels, taken from M, six-cylinder engine and luxurious sidelights. By the way, the rear doors were opened not customary backward, but forward. The rear and front fenders of the car formed peculiar gaps making the body not solid, but "split" into separate elements. It did not match a bit the original idea of designers, that is why they began to improve this model again.

The first test drive of GAZ M-20

The first test drive of GAZ M-20, together with GAZ-11-73 and Opel Kapitan, summer 1945

On June 19, 1945 ready GAZ M-20 was presented to the leader Stalin. Glancing at the car, Stalin did not show any emotions. He just skeptically added: "We need to take the car with B mark, the car is good." He argued it with the fact that this car tended to up-market models, which was not affordable by average citizens. But particularly Lipgart's persuasion that the car was very economical in comparison with the others, gave its results and the leader allowed to start the production of "Victory".

From the 28th of June 1946, Molotov plant started the mass production of GAZ M-20, which in the course of work underwent some modernization of body (3-storey facing, updated chrome moldings) again. After almost a year "Victory" drove to the Kremlin once again. At that time, the car was estimated by three main personalities of the USSR - Stalin, Beria and Molotov. "Victory" had numerous tests in the courtyard on a complex snow-covered road, and then Stalin personally began to inspect every detail of the car. He liked it, but when the leader heard that the designer of the car was Lipgart, he aggressively said, "Why he is not punished?!" In the summer of 1949 three GAZ samples drove to the great leader: regular sedan-fastback, upgraded copy and convertible. Stalin again began to examine each of them closely. Finally, Lipgart heard long-awaited words from Stalin: "Now it's good."

From this point “Victory” gained a new life, not only on the territory of the Union, but outside it as well. Vehicles often participated in exhibitions, trade fairs, and after a while even the Poles began to produce the exact copy of it. In the early years “Victory” was exported to many countries in Europe, but it was markedly different from the copies for sale on the territory of the Union. The last upgrade of “Victory” was held in 1955. Then the car radio was installed, the radiator got more beautiful trim and a new logo, the steering wheel became a bit different and had a ring in the center of the signal button, the power of engine was increased to 52-55 hp. This series of “Victory” received index GAZ M-20B.

There is no doubt that “Victory” let the other countries to take another look at the automotive industry of the USSR. Car was very successfully exported to Belgium, Western Europe, England and even the United States. There were legends about it, it was loved and respected, and most important - it was one of the brightest pages in the history of the Soviet Union.

The appearance of the car

At first glance GAZ M20 seemed to be an ordinary car, aimed to satisfy the middle class of population. But it is necessary to examine the design of "Victory" more closely and you will find more and more new details, which all together form a very rich and vibrant appearance.


The first series of "Victory" with a conventional grille (colloquial. - "striped vest"), 1946

This car looked a little too modern, not only in comparison with the other Soviet cars, but also with many foreign vehicle brands. The front had a lot of chrome, which got "Victory" expensive appearance and tapering hood - elegance. Designers were remaking the car body for many times, bringing it to the incontestable perfection.

Curly thresholds, exclusive door handles, carefully crafted bumper, rubies of the lights and harmoniously matched body color created a feeling of comfort and didn’t cause any complaints. Moreover the designers provided that the wheels were not placed beyond the wings, ensuring body cleanness even while driving muddy roads. With regard to technological innovation, "Victory" was the first on the territory of the Soviet Union to acquire the turn signals and brake signals.

Gorky plant. Designers near the first copy

Gorky plant. Designers near the first copy of "Victory"

By the way, the designers of GAZ M20 could not make a choice of a suitable engine for a long time: some of them insisted on the four-cylinder American Dodge D5, while others wanted to keep the six-cylinder version of the same engine, which was previously installed on GAZ-11-73.

Specifications of GAZ M20 "Victory"

Criteria Description
Years of production1946-1958
Body 4-door fastback and 4-door convertible for 5 passenger seats
Dimensions of the body d / w / h4665/1695/1590 mm
Track of wheels rear - 1362 mm, front - 1362 mm
Engine 4-cylinder, carburetor, with longitudinal installation, petrol, volume - 2112 cm3
Engine power 52 hp and 3600 rev / min
Fuel consumption - 13.5 liters per 100 kilometers 
Tank capacity 55 liters
Transmission manual, 3-speed
Clutch dry, semi-centrifugal, with one disc
Suspension front - lever-spring, independent, rear – spring
Brakedrum type (front and rear)
Air filter oil, with silencer
Shock absorbers bilateral, hydraulic
Maximum speed 105 km / h
Acceleration (0-100 km / h)45 seconds
Weight 1350 kg

Engine features

By selecting a suitable engine for the future "Victory" auto designer Lipgart compared and analyzed many different options. Finally he chose the American "Dodge D5". It was 6-cylinder low-valve engine which had been produced since 1928 and proved its reliability after numerous tests.

four-cylinder engine Dodge D5 made for "Victory"

It differed with its decent power (up to 62 hp), the presence of the thermostat, high-quality filtration system, fire-resistant clack seats of exhaust valves, modern ventilation system, floating suction tubes and bearings of crank type. Initially these engines were installed on GAZ M-11, self-propelled mounts and even light tanks.

the drawing of engine for GAZ M-20

the drawing of engine for GAZ M-20

The body design GAZ M-20

Despite all the visual advantages of the body of GAZ M-20 "Victory", the shortcomings eventually began to show up. First of all it concerns aerodynamics, the power of which is in the front, and even at low wind gusts car started to spin out noticeably.


Body of GAZ-M20 "Victory"

The design of the body is whole, with a transverse beam suspension and impressive triton. A pleasant surprise for buyers was the presence of the trunk. But experience had shown that due to the large weight the trunk lid the hinges were breaking quickly.

The first test on the durability of the body of GAZ-M20

The first test on the durability of the body of GAZ-M20

If we talk about the visibility of “Victory”, there was something to complain about. Firstly - a small rear window. It was made of stalinite and very often was with the defects (curvature, waviness). Secondly - the absence of glass heating. With regard to the heating, it worked fine and could quickly warm up in winter and qualitatively blow the front windows. But this luxury was available only during driving the car. If the vehicle stopped, this miracle-heating stopped working as well.

Assembly line at Molotov plant

Assembly line at Molotov plant, GAZ-M20 "Victory", 1946

The wheel of “Victory” was very comfortable, large and easy to spin. Generally speaking, the control system could be proud of. Its design is simple, but very reliable. GAZ M20 had a brake drum system, but its disadvantage was the curved cuff, which often leaked in winter. Particularly noteworthy was a handbrake. It had impressive size and was located under the dashboard.


Thankfully to this the Soviet Union was spoken about in other countries. “Victory” was one of the first cars, which was exported in great amounts for mass use. Perhaps Moskvich-400 was up to its level. Until that time, the Soviet Union could export only a few types of trucks and only in small batches.

GAZ M20 "Victory" instantly became attractive for the Finns, who often used it for a taxi. But for a short time it had acquired great popularity in the Nordic countries and orders for this car came regularly. By the way, Belgium also almost immediately was able to consider this "miracle on wheels" and even managed to bring “Victory” to England and the United States with the help of its dealers.

Model of GAZ M-20 manufactured for export

Model of GAZ M-20 manufactured for export. Austria, the city of Vienna, 1951

This car had not had any complaints and received nothing but good feedback and words of gratitude from the western brothers. In 1952, the British had a test drive of "Victory" and made the highly anticipated conclusion in auto magazine «Motor»: "An interesting car, comfortable, has decent workmanship, high throughput and bright appearance. But too noisy with bad dynamics." In 1953 the Americans wanted to test our “Victory” and even published the detailed overview of the model in the journal «Cars». Their conclusion could also be called very satisfactory. The US praised “Victory” for good design, but claimed that it "copies" their domestic Ford, also they stated that the car was too heavy and had a good power. But as time passed, many Western countries, adopting experience from their neighbors, created more and more new car models every year. And by 1957 “Victory” had positioned itself as an old, uncomfortable and little functional model. But despite such a "verdict", its popularity did not fall, especially at home.

Interesting facts

GAZ M-20 "Victory” became a real star of the blue screen. This car became famous by the films "The case number 306," "To the Black Sea," "Marry a Captain," "Ivan Brovkin at the frontier”, "Case of “spotties”," "Zhurov" etc. There is no doubt that every family and even a child possessed “Victory”, it was produced as souvenirs, figurines and trinkets.

GAZ-M20 Victory convertible by company Cimmeria

GAZ-M20 “Victory” convertible by company Cimmeria

Experienced drivers noticed: in order to switch the first transmission quietly, it was necessary to switch the second one firstly and then - the first one. Clutch, thus, had to be always depressed. “Victory” had such innovations as air cooling, heater and electronic direction indicators.

1000th copy of Victory off the assembly line, 1948

1000th copy of “Victory” off the assembly line, 1948

Initially GAZ M-20 was supposed to have the name of "Homeland." But after an ironic question of the leader, "How much will the Homeland cost?" Lipgart decided to rename his creation, not to be among the enemies of Stalin.

“Victory” became the first detective car in the USSR. By the film "The case number 306," where the car GAZ M-20 was the "main character". Distribution of this detective film smashed box office record, the amount of its viewers was more than 33 million.