On June 28, 1918, the Moscow Automobile Society (AMO), Russia’s oldest car factory, became state property.
The car manufacturer was established in 1916 by the entrepreneurial Ryabushinsky brothers.
The brand-new plant attracted the crème de la crème of the Russian engineering elite. Workers were drawn to AMO by high salaries, exemption from military service, and free apartments.
The first car models relied heavily on foreign blueprints, especially the Italian company Fiat. Thus, the first Soviet trucks looked a lot like Italian prototypes, except for their red color. In 1917-1919, in total, 150 trucks were produced.
These trucks became the precursors of the next generation of Soviet trucks, many of which proved their worth during World War II.
The most remarkable creation of AMO was the Soviet-made limousine. The decision to build the first Soviet luxury car came in 1943. Before that, Soviet leaders used foreign cars for official business, and at the height of World War II this seemed inappropriate. The first model was ZIS-101.
An even more luxurious version of the ZIS-101, the bulletproof eight-seater ZIS-115, was designed in 1946-1947 and totaled 32 units.
After Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s personality cult in 1956, the name of the plant was changed to Zavod Imeni Likhacheva, after its former director Ivan Alekseevich Likhachev.
In 1975, the plant was awarded the Order of the October Revolution for the successful completion of works on creation of capacities up to 200 thousand cars per year issuance. ZIL hand-built passenger cars were priced about the same as a vehicle from Maybach or Rolls-Royce.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the pioneer of the Soviet automobile industry fell into significant decline. The company has struggled further with the global financial crisis.
The last ZIL vehicle, “Limo Number One,” made especially for Vladimir Putin, was assembled in 2012.
Today, the company continues to exist only as real-estate development site.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.