Sunday, October 18, 2009

Iron Curtain Week Special: Togliatti, USSR circa '73

By looking at this story from the May 1973 issue of National Geographic, it appears that your grand-dad has been proven wrong. Soviet cars were not assembled from random stolen GM parts and stick-welded together by kidnapped toddlers, but made in a facility as modern as any of the Big-Three's at the time.

This interesting glimpse into the auto production from behind the Iron Curtain shows factory life at AutoVAZ's manufacturing facility in Togliatti, USSR, where the Lada Zhiguli is made. At this time, the Zhiguli had not departed from it's base significantly, still essentially being a built-under-license Fiat 124 sedan.

It is interesting to see that the factory had purchased machining equipment and on-site support from the USA. There are bound to be some great stories out of these Americans who worked behind enemy lines in the cold war, as this photo of a production line squabble between an American engineer and his Russian translator illustrates.

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