What is it?
The Zaporozhets was a series of two-door rear-wheel-drive models, produced by ZAZ, the largest automotive manufacturer of the Ukraine from 1960. Its name stands for a man from Zaporizhia, an eastern city in the country. The car was the most affordable of its time in the Soviet Union.
Where and when was it made?
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Production of the Zaporozhets family started in 1960, but we’ll focus on the 968 version that went into production in 1971 and was sold until 1994 as a revised 968M model. Naturally, it was assembled in ZAZ factory in Ukraine and was offered to customers for 2,200 rubles.
The Zaporozhets 968 was unofficially based on the NSU Prinz 4, but featured a completely redesigned body, highlighted by the so-called “ears” on the rear fenders, acting as air intakes. It had two doors and a 1.2-liter air-cooled V4 engine with 41 horsepower (30 kW), reaching the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual gearbox. A modernized 968A version was launched in 1973, equipped with a plastic dashboard and slightly upgraded steering wheel.
What’s so special about it?
Just look at it - a compact notchback coupe with a V-shaped engine and a rear-wheel drive. Classic shapes mixed with cool chrome accents and bumpers, and amazing Porsche-style engine sound. Add a curb weight of around 1,650 lbs (750 kg) and you’ve got a recipe to love.
Also, the Zapo, as it was nicknamed in the Eastern Bloc, featured a basic audio system as standard equipment, despite being labeled as the “people’s car” in the Soviet Union. A radio in an entry-level car from the 1970s...
Basically, it's all about the romance of owning an automobile, which has the only goal to drive you from point A to point B. Not to hit 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in 7, 6, 5, or 4 seconds, but to... ever reach that mark!