Dieselpunks.org | July 13, 2012
Originally intended for mass production, the KIM-10 is an extreme rarity – of 500 built, only half a dozen survived.
It was the first Soviet economy class car, a distant cousin of the Volkswagen and Fiat Topolino. Its story is different from the German and Italian “people’s cars”: Dr. Porsche had a ready design for sale, Senator Agnelli was lucky enough to get Il Duce‘s support for his private brainchild, and the KIM came to life by a government decree – first the decree, then the concept.
On January 10, 1939, the Bolshevik Party Central Committee and People’s Commissioners Council published their decision: to start small cars production at the KIM plant in Moscow. The plant was actually a subsidiary of Gorky Automotive Works, assembling GAZ-AA light trucks and other vehicles. Now it was chosen for an ambitious plan – in one year only, KIM should be capable of building 4000 cars per month. But what cars?
Instead of buying a license for building a foreign economy class car (and there were quite a lot) the Soviet executives decided to test some contemporary models and to model their future “people’s vehicle” on the most successful one. In February 1939, four candidates were intensively tested:
Opel Kadett (by stenoja @ Flickr)
Austin Seven (by Austin7nut @ Flickr)
Ford Prefect (by robertknight16 @ Flickr)
Adler Trumpf Junior (by stkone @ Flickr)
The Prefect proved itself as the best of four and was adopted as a prototype. The KIM-10 was modeled on this British sedan without being an exact copy – it was significantly longer, a bit wider and taller and had much higher clearance, making it more fit for the Russian roads. Its powertrain, a 1171 cc 30hp 4-stroke 4-cylinder side-valve petrol engine coupled to a three-speed manual gearbox, was a close copy of the 1.17-liter Ford.