The History Of Moscvich 408
The Moskvitch-408 (also referred to as the Moskvich-408, and M-408) was a family car produced by the Soviet car manufacturer Moskvich between 1964 and 1976.
The first car in the "third generation" of Moskvitches, the M-408 replaced the last of the "second generation" cars, the Moskvitch-407/ 403. Later it was to be replaced by the Moskvitch-2138 (a slightly modified and face-lifted derivative of the late M-408). A version of the car made by IZH continued in production.
Body styles of the main version were: 4-door saloon, 5-door estate (the model M-426), and 3-door panel van (the M-433). Hatchback and pick-up versions of the IZH model existed.
The car was sold in France as the Moskvitch Elite 1300 and as the Moskvich Carat in Norway. It was powered by 1.3litre / 1358cc straight-4 petrol engine, producing 50hp (37kW). "More worth than its price", was it's slogan for export sales.
There were two distinct series of the M-408, which both used the same name.
The first series of cars were produced between 1964 and 1969 in Moscow. These cars had vertical rear lights, two or four round headlights, a front bench seat, and a 4-speed manual transmission with column mounted gear lever. The length of the standard model was 4090mm (161in).
The second series was produced between 1969 and 1976 in Moscow. It had the same engine and transmission as its predecessor, but a new body — longer (at 4250mm) and fitted with rectangular headlights (made in East Germany) and horizontal rear lights, with triangular turn signal markers mounted on tail fins. Also it had separated bucket seats and the transmission used a floor-mounted gear lever.
From 1966 until 1967 the car was also produced by the IZH military factory in the city of Izhevsk, carrying the IZH-Moskvitch-408 name — though usually called simply Moskvitch-408. This car was a direct clone of the MZMA Moskvitch-408, except for the badges.
The car had quite modern features for 1964: a stylised speedometer, sharp tail fins and panoramic rear window. It also had a then-common artificial leather interior (colour-coded).
The M-408 was a conventional rear-wheel drive economy car powered by a 1358cc OHV straight-four, producing 50hp (37kW) at 4750rpm. After 1967, the assembly of the engines was done by UZAM in Ufa. One 2-barrel down-draft carburettor was used. The car was equipped with self-adjusting drum brakes at first, then from 1969 with power brakes with a vacuum servo and a split circuit braking system.
This Moskvitch was the first Soviet-built car to have deliberate safety equipment (since 1969): a safety steering wheel, soft interior parts, seat belts, a padded dashboard, and a split circuit braking system.
- M-408: 4-door saloon
- M-426: 5-door estate
- M-433: 3-door van
- M-408 Tourist: experimental 2+2 2-door convertible (with removable hard top), 2 examples built in 1964; fitted with aluminium body and electronically controlled fuel injection system.
Exported cars (with an -E suffix, i.e. Moskvitch-408E) usually had high-compression engines, additional chromed trim and four round headlights instead of two (until the 1969 change to rectangular lights).
The Moskvitch-412 was not the successor to the M-408 — the M-412 was based on M-408, but the cars were produced at the same time. The M-412 was a more luxurious version, powered by a 1500cc, 75hp (56kW) OHC slant-four engine. Introduced in 1967, the original Moskvitch 412 of 1967–69 had a chassis identical to that of the 408 of 1964. The only differences between 408 and 412 were the engines and the interior.
The 1969–76 M-408 and M-412 also had identical bodies, and the M-412 received the same changes as the M-408 did in 1969. Again, the only differences were the engines (1300 and 1500). This can make identification difficult since there are no external differences between the two cars.
Also, in 1967 the IZH-Moskvitch-412 came into production. For 1967, this car was a twin of the Moskvitch-412, built (like the IZH-Moskvitch-408 corresponding model) by the IZH military factory in Izhevsk. IZH cars were produced from 1967 up to 1997 and were modified independently from original Moscow Moskvitches. A hatchback (the IZH-2125 Comby, from 1973) and pick-up (the IZH-2715, from 1972) were also available from the IZH factory.
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