Moskvitch 407 Coupe with 76 hp. Moscow transport museum
With the new M-407-series 45 hp (34 kW; 46 PS) 1,358 cc (82.9 cu in) overhead valve engine, in 1958, the M-402 became the Moskvitch-407.A four-speed transmission with synchromesh appeared in December 1959, in place of the three-speed.
Also, there was a more powerful version of 407, delivering 67 hp, that could reach up to 145 km/h, reaching 100 km/h in about 19 seconds. This model was only for the soviet Police and KGB, not for sales to public. These performances were about the same with the M-412, launched about 8 years later. Some were sold to public when withdrawn from regular Police service.
The M-407 was offered as an estate (407-423N), delivery (407-430), medical team model (407B), and taxi (407T).
The delivery simply had the rear windows of the estate not cut out and the rear doors welded shut; it was only available to official groups.
A M-407 came third in class at the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1957.
Like the M-402, there were four-wheel drive M-407s, too, beginning with the M-407-410N in June 1958 and the M-407-411N estate in August. At first, these had the three-speed, changing to the four-speed in 1960. A total of 11,890 four-wheel drive 402s and 407s were built by the end of production in January 1961, a result of Moskvitch being unable to keep up with demand for its mainstream M-407s.
In 1961, the M-407 was further upgraded with an even more powerful M-407D1-D2 engine (allowing to handle the fourth speed on a manual transmission), self-adjusting brake cylinders and hydraulic clutch drive, improved front suspension for easier driving,and a completely restructured dashboard. This model, manufactured as the Moskvitch 403, served as a transition between the second and the third generation Moskvitches, debuting in 1964, with the mechanical components of the Moskvitch 408 (which had not yet appeared) and the body of the M-402. The M-403E and M-403IE were intended for export. In 1963, an estate variant, the 424, appeared (with the 424E the export model). The M-403 lasted only until July 1965, with 133,523 cars built (50,612 for export).
The M-402 was discontinued by August 1959, with the M-407 production ending in October 1963 (with 359,980 built, 120,903 for export).
The M-407 was the first Soviet automotive export to be truly successful in the West. Up to half of all M-407 production was exported for a number of years, mainly to the Eastern Bloc countries, Norway, Finland, and France. In parts of Western Europe, it was rebranded the Elite, to avoid conflict with Peugeot, which had trademarked names with middle “0”s.
A large number of the cars sold in Western Europe were assembled by Sobimpex (known as Scaldia from 1965) in Seneffe, Belgium. Owned by a Romanian-born Belgian, Joseph Beherman, Scaldia was the first to assemble Soviet automobiles within the EEC.
To keep up with Western standards of speed and fuel economy, Beherman also offered a Perkins 4.99 diesel engine of 1.6 litre and 43 hp (32 kW), which was only slightly slower than the petrol-engined model but considerably more economical. The cars received Belgian tires, while Deluxe models were fitted with European-made interiors and chrome brightwork. Test production began in 1962, with full series production commencing in March 1964. Production was of the M-407 and M-423, even though the newer M-403 had arrived in some markets.
The Moskvitch-402 and 407 could be considered as the first step in Soviet and Russian automotive history towards producing customer-adapted trim levels for various uses. While the M-407 provided greater driving comfort at bigger expenses, other trim levels included the M-407-424 station wagon available for the general public, M-431 delivery pick-up/ambulance van and even the 410/411 attempt of creating an SUV-based sedan/station wagon.