This collection presents the most interesting advertising posters which were shown not only in the Soviet Union but also in other parts of the world.
These types of advertising posters and cards were hung in offices, shops, hotels, and published in various local and international magazines and newspapers. The ads were supposed to be focused on foreign consumers.
Overall, behind carefully barred borders, the automotive industry developed differently from the free market. Technology fell behind; automobile models were often copied from foreign originals.
Most popular cars in the Soviet state – Moskviches, Zaparozhets, Volgas, and Pobedas, could only be received by Soviet citizens after waiting in a queue for several years.
The automotive industry in the Soviet Union spanned the history of the state from 1929 to 1991. It began with assistance from Western manufacturers and grew into a substantial industry with multiple makes.
Before its dissolution, the Soviet Union produced 2.1-2.3 million units per year of all types, and was the sixth-largest automotive producer, ranking ninth place in cars, third in trucks, and first in buses.
The Soviet industry exported 300,000-400,000 cars annually, mainly to Soviet Union satellite countries, but also to Northern America, Central and Western Europe, and Latin America.
The oldest Soviet mass automaker, GAZ (Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, Gorky Automobile Factory), was established in Nizhny Novgorod in 1929 by Ford.
A year later, Ford built in Moscow a second automobile plant, AZLK, which became a major Soviet car maker only after WWII.
Unlike other automakers, due to specific government aims, in the early years of Soviet production, cars were a small share of all vehicles.
Also, at the beginning of the 1960s, it became clear Soviet industry was not able to design and launch a decent car for the masses. Soviet leadership again turned to the West seeking technical assistance.
Several options were considered, including Volkswagen, Ford, Peugeot, Renault and FIAT. The Fiat 124 was chosen because of its simple and sturdy design, being easy to manufacture and repair.
The plant was built in just 4 years (1966–1970) in the small town of Stavropol Volzhsky, which later grew to a population of more than half a million and was renamed Togliatti to commemorate Palmiro Togliatti, the long-time head of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), who died shortly before construction of the plant began.
At the same time, the Izhmash car plant was established in the city of Izhevsk as part of the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant, with the initiative coming from the Minister of Defence Dmitriy Ustinov in order to increase the overall production of cars in the Soviet Union. It produced Moskvitchs and Moskvitch-based kombi hatchbacks.
By 1970, the manufacture of trucks and other commercial vehicles was decentralized and these were made not only in Moscow and Gorky but also in Belarus (Minsk, Zhodino), the Ukraine (Kremenchug), Georgia (Kutaisi), and in the Volga and Ural regions (Ulyanovsk and Miass).
The manufacture of automobiles was confined exclusively to Moscow, Gorky, and Izhevsk (Ural region) until the late 1960s.
From 1970 to 1979, automobile production grew by nearly 1 million units per year, and truck production grew by 250,000 per year.
The production ratio of automobiles to trucks increased in that time from 0.7 to 1.7, indicating that more attention was being given to the consumer market.
The bulk of the automotive industry of the Soviet Union, with annual production approaching 1.8 million units, was located in the Russian SFSR.
Ukrainian SSR was second, at more than 200,000 units per year, Belorussian SSR was third at 40,000. Other Soviet republics (SSRs) had low-significant automotive industry. Only the first two republics produced all types of automobiles.
By the early 1980s, Soviet automobile industry consisted of several main plants, which produced vehicles for various market segments.
Prior to 1988, private buyers were also not allowed to buy commercial vehicles like minibusses, vans, trucks or buses for personal use. Domestic car production satisfied only 45% of the domestic demand; nevertheless, no import of cars was permitted.
(Photo credit: RussianAmbience.com / Wikimedia Commons / Pinterest).