1959 ГАЗ М 18
Seats number - 5 people
Car weight – 507 kg
Dimensions – 3,040х1,374х1,440 mm
Base – 1,750 mm
Track – 1,100 mm
Clearance – 200 mm
Engine - carburetor, 2-cylinder
Engine power - 10 hp
Maximum speed - 40 km / h
Manufacture years – 1959
In March of 1955 on the eve of the tenth Victory anniversary the group of the citizens from Kharkov wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the CPSU about the necessity to produce a special vehicle for people with disabilities. The following after that Ministry directive stated that a compact car for the disabled should be projected at the GAZ plant.
The GAZ-М18 got a closed all-metal body, reminding the Pobeda in style. The engineers did not use a weak-power motorcycle engine. As a matter of fact, according to the technical assignment the power had to be about 10 hp. The Gorkovites (the engineers from the factory GAZ in Gorky) “cut” into halves the engine from the Moskvich, having obtained a two-cylinder, but quite workable, powerful enough and reliable device. It was installed in the rear. In those years mini-cars of many foreign companies were with a rear engine in the wake of German Volkswagen-Beetle.
The suspensions of the GAZ-18 were independent torsion-bar. Such construction gave good account of itself in the German “Beetle”.
But the main thing is that the transmission of the GAZ-18 had a converter. It made possible to go without a clutch pedal or a clutch arm and to curtail drastically a number of transmissions, which was especially important for the disabled. The converter from the Volga, which just at that time went into serial production, was taken as a sample. The automatic gearbox with a converter turned out to be not very reliable, besides necessary oil could not be found in the USSR in those years.
The GAZ-18 was designed very quickly: already in 1958 two samples came out of the plant gate. Of course there were some deficiencies, but on the whole the car was recognized to be successful and therefore it was decided to build another two samples.
However the history of this interesting mini-car ended having hardly begun.
Some years ago one prototype returned to Gorky to the museum of the GAZ. It is true, only the body virtually survived from the original. Exactly this car is kept now in the factory’s museum of the GAZ.