Moskvitch 412

Moskvitch-412 is a Soviet and Russian rear-wheel drive car of group II small class, produced from October 1967 to 1976 at the MZMA (AZLK) plant in Moscow, and from 1967 to 1998 at the Izhevsk Automobile Plant in Izhevsk (USSR).

Initially it was a version of the Moskvitch 408 car with a more powerful engine. At AZLK, both models were produced in parallel until 1976, and then, after another restyling and modernization, production continued under the index 2140 (2138 for the M-408). The Moskvitch-412 machines of the Izhevsk plant were modernized according to their own program.

The creation of a modification with a more powerful and high-speed engine was envisaged even at the design stage of the Moskvitch-408, and in order to obtain money from the state for a new engine, a sports modification of the car was developed. In practice, the development of the sports version of the “Tourist” (with an open body, then called “gran turismo” in Italian) did not take place, the car did not even receive its own index, however, engine development that began under a sports “sauce” continued and led to to the birth of the 1.5-liter overhead engine model M-412. This engine, for lack of anything else, was installed in a modified body of the serial M-408, as a result of which the dynamic capabilities of the car increased sharply, essentially approaching the objective limit of the capabilities of its chassis.

Up until the start of production of the 412, Moskvitch cars always had, in comparison with the contemporary products of the Gorky plant, slightly lower specific power, and, accordingly, a slightly lower maximum speed and slightly worse acceleration dynamics. “Moskvitch-412” stood out sharply from this series – in terms of specific power (13.9 kg/hp) it looked much better in comparison not only with its contemporary Volga GAZ-21 (19 kg/hp), but also the promising at that time GAZ-24 (15.5 kg/hp). Such small but relatively powerful cars had not been produced in the USSR before, which was a wonder for drivers of those years, who were accustomed to the “table of ranks” of cars that had been established back in the days of “Victory” and “400th” Moskvitch. Subsequently, this situation was further developed in connection, on the one hand, with the refusal of serial production of the powerful six-cylinder modification of the GAZ-24, and on the other, with the advent of “luxury” modifications of the Zhiguli, VAZ-2103 and 2106, which not only left “ Volga is behind in terms of dynamics, but has also closely caught up with it in terms of retail price and degree of prestige.

At the time of its production in 1967, the Moskvitch-412, like the Moskvitch-408, was assembled in a 1964 model body, with teardrop-shaped vertical rear lights and round headlights. Since a number of components of the Moskvitch-412, in particular the wider radiator, did not fit into the engine compartment of the 408 body, the very first copies of the new model rolled off the assembly line in bodies specially modified by changing a number of elements; then, in the same 1967, the so-called “unified” body was introduced – still with the old design, but suitable for installing both the “408” and “412” power units without modifications.

Meanwhile, at the same time, the development of an updated body for the “Moskvitch” began, and its creators were given the goal of maximum unification of the power elements with the existing one, in particular, the door openings and the roof were to remain unchanged.

As a result of the modernization, since December 1969, both models (both M-408 and M-412) received a modified body, into which both power units available in production could be installed without modifications. Along with some external modernization, the modernized body was brought to compliance with the passive safety requirements adopted in those years, which was confirmed by certification tests in France. In particular, all bodies received fastenings for seat belts, which became standard equipment in 1969, and the protruding elements of the interior became injury-proof, with soft linings (since February 1969 – only on AZLK; on the Izhevsk (most popular) version, soft interior elements appeared only in 1976). Therefore, the letters I and E were added to the designations of both models, indicating compliance with the passive safety standards established by the UNECE and, accordingly, the potential for export to developed countries. In general, Moskvitch-412IE was the first Soviet car in which serious attention was paid to passive safety issues. The dual-circuit brake system (at AZLK – since 1969) has seriously improved the active safety of the car. In 1974, fangs appeared on the bumpers (at AZLK), which were also an element of passive safety – they prevented the car from “diving” under an obstacle.

The visual novelty of the updated car was ensured by the use of horizontal lights with triangular rear direction indicators and rectangular headlights made in the GDR (also installed on Wartburg 353 cars). While maintaining the decorative “fins” of the rear wings, symbolizing the continuity of the design of the brand’s cars, the Moskvitch received a fundamentally new design at the front: the turn signal lights stretched out and took places under the headlights, and the radiator grille received a cage-like pattern with wide, low cells.

Such machines went into production at MZMA in December 1969, and at about the same time at Izhmash. At the same time, Moskvitch-412 received an interior with separate front seats (since January 1968) and a gear lever in the floor (since November 1968), along with a new, injury-proof (folding upon impact) steering column and a parking brake lever between the front seats. Moskvitch-408 also received separate seats, but the gear shift lever remained on the old-style steering column until the end of 1971 (on some examples until mid-1973).

In addition, throughout the entire production, other, less noticeable changes and improvements were made to the car’s design. Although since 1969 the Moskvitch-412IE became the base model of the Moscow plant, the production of the Moskvitch-408IE was retained.

The carrying capacity of VAZ cars and the survivability of their chassis were significantly lower, which predetermined the “division of labor” between these cars for the coming decades – the Moskvitch began to be perceived as a less comfortable, but more durable and passable car, well suited for trips to nature or to the dacha with luggage, while the Zhiguli enjoyed a reputation as a dynamic “road” car (later the same fate befell the “classic” VAZ models themselves in comparison with front-wheel drive ones).

The weak point was the 4-speed gearbox, designed in its main parts, inherited, in fact, from the 407th model. Small dimensions limited the engineers’ ability to create a strong and reliable box, so when paired with a significantly more powerful power unit, the box had relatively low durability and a high percentage of premature failure. Otherwise, the car inherited the high structural simplicity, reliability, and unpretentiousness to operating and maintenance conditions characteristic of its predecessors. In particular, the UZAM-412 engine, not inferior in terms of boost, power indicators and service life to VAZ engines, could run on AC-8 / M-8B type oils, while the Zhiguli engine required a special oil specially introduced for them category “G” (M-12G and similar).

Moskvitch-3-5-3 – one of the first attempts to develop a car to replace the 408-412 family (1970)
In 1971, the MZMA plant underwent reconstruction; after the launch of a new conveyor, the production volume of Moskvitch vehicles almost doubled. In the same year, the interior of the Moskvitch (both 408IE and 412IE) produced by AZLK was modernized: the instrument panel, instead of several separate soft overlays, received one common one, new door trims, interior handles, and so on appeared.

The logic of the previous history of the AZLK / MZMA plant gave reason to perceive the 412IE model as a transitional one: an updated body combined with a fundamentally new engine. It was in this way, due to the “transitional” series, that a change of generations took place at MZMA in the 1950s – 1960s.

However, despite numerous attempts by factory designers in the early 1970s to design a car combining a new, modern body and mechanics of the 412 model, a replacement for the 412 family actually appeared only in the 1980s, and it was already completely different. The car is Moskvitch-2141, a front-wheel drive hatchback, created on the basis of the body of the French Simca-Chrysler 1307 and the UZAM-412 engine, which was already outdated by that time.


  • Moskvich-412 (sedan)
  • Moskvich 412I (until 1969) (special version, meeting European safety standards)
  • Moskvich 412IE (since 1969) (new variant with European safety standards and could be exported)
  • Moskvich 412K (vehicle kit for assembly abroad)
  • Moskvich 412M (medical car)
  • Moskvich 412P (right-hand drive)
    Moskvich 412T (taxi variant)
  • Moskvich 412U (training model, with additional pedals and a color scheme)
  • Moskvich 412E (export variant)
  • Moskvich 412Yu (tropical version)
  • Moskvich 412 Rally (sport version for rallies)
  • Moskvich 427 (station wagon)
  • Moskvich-434 (van)
  • Moskvich 412R (sport version with forced engines (140 HP). Limited series)

Assembly: Moscow/Izhevsk (USSR)

Years of production: 1967—1997

Length: 4250 mm

Width: 1550 mm

Height: 1480 mm

Engine: 4 cylinders; 1480 cc

Power: 75 HP

Max speed: 145 km/h

Fuel consumption: 9 l/100 km

Weight: 1045 kg

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