Welcome to Soviet Saturday where I discuss greatest automotive legends from the Soviet era in diecast form.
Today I will begin by talking about the diecasts rather than telling you the history of Moskvitch 408. Reason being, Moskvitch 408 was the very first true diecast model to be made in USSR.
First Moskvitch 408 model was actually made by Dinky toys in France. It was model number 1410 made in the 1960s. The model is 1/43 scale and was only available in red. It featured opening hood and tires that had Dunlop stamped on them.
When Soviets got wind that the French were making diecasts models of their car, they got curious. Soon after they made their own version which marked the beginning of diecast production in the USSR. Although Russians claim their model doesn’t have any French roots, the resemblance is uncanny. However, neither the hood nor the glass interchange between the two. Much like the French model, Russian model also has opening hood. Earlier versions had similar looking wheels. Russian model has A1 designation.
Soon after the release of A1, Russians made Moskvitch 412 designated as A2. It was pretty much a copy of 408 with a different engine.
And lastly we have the Chinese version of Moskvitch 408 that is made by DeAgostini. It is much more detailed than the other two but is only worth fraction of the cost. This one definitely doesn’t have any French or Russian roots.
So there you have it. Made in USSR, designed in France, improved in China, sold in Canada.
And now a little history of Moskvitch 408. It went into production in 1964 as an overdue replacement for a Moskvitch 407. At the time this was actually a very nice car that could compete with many European models.
It had a typical layout that was common to most Russian cars. Front engine, rear wheel drive. It was powered by a 4 cylinder, 50 horsepower carburated engine and had a 4 speed manual transmission.
This was the first Soviet car to have safety equipment such as crumple zones, seatbelts and a collapsible steering column. As a result it was sold all over Europe and was even built in Belgium as Scaldia 1300.
Officially production of the 408 ended in 1976 but the model that came after it was so similar that it may as well be the same car. Moskvitch 412 was being sold until 1997 and cargo versions stayed in production until 2001.