Never Seen One: 1962 Moskvitch 403

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I’ll bet you’re not familiar with these, unless you’ve spent time in the former Soviet Union. Moskvitch 403’s were produced from 1961 to 1965, and were actually an improved version of the 402. This one is claimed to be in excellent condition (although nothing about whether it starts, runs and stops is included in the auction information) and is located in Naples, Florida. It’s listed for sale here on eBay, with bidding at $200 as I write this.

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With styling definitely influenced from the West, this little sedan reminds me of a tiny mid-50’s American or British car. I’m guessing the hole in the front bumper is for a backup (I hope it’s a backup) crank handle; our 1956 Standard Vanguard Sportsman has a similar hole. It does make valve adjustment easy! I wish we had more information about this very unusual find.

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The lower part of the body, and possibly even the bumpers have been coated with what looks like roofing sealer. I don’t know if the lumps are part of the sealer or rust bubbles; if they are bubbles that puts this car into a whole different light. Again, the rear styling could be from any number of mid-50’s British sedans, even details like the external hinges match up.

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I wish the seller had seen fit to add more pictures. According to what I can find on the internet, the 403 was the first Moskvitch that had a four-speed transmission, so I’m guessing that’s a four-on-the-tree arrangement. Again, mid-50’s European interior design; could you see this in a Fiat, perhaps? Interestingly enough, the factory protective plastic still covers the door panels; I hope that reflects the way the entire car has been cherished!

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You know you are taking on an orphan when it comes to the mechanicals–I looked at Rock Auto and they have spark plugs, coils and an aftermarket windshield washer pump! With no current information in the auction about mechanical condition, I’d certainly want some questions answered before bidding.

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Comments

  1. Bill

    Put it in “H” it gets 300 hectares on a single tank of kerosene….

    • packrat

      I recognize that reference and thought of the simpsons when i saw the dash. needs a bumblebee logo on the horn button.

  2. Myron Vernis

    Possibly the best thing to come out of Khrushchev’s rule of the USSR. Take that as you will.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Myron, that’s my vote for comment of the day! Maybe week! :-)

  3. van

    This would be awesome
    Paint it red
    Gold hammer and sickle on the door
    Chevy 8.1 with 671 blower
    Call it the atomic threat

  4. John K

    seller could answer “it came that way from the factory” to almost any question and you couldn’t call him on it.

  5. Ed P

    A Cuban immigrant I know has unkind words for Soviet cars. That said, this would be an interesting museum piece. The display could be called “Cars from behind the Iron Curtain”. Due to the scarcity of parts, this is not a candidate for a daily driver.

  6. krash

    ….add a hayabusa motor….and then watch the car just fall apart.

  7. Per Member

    This is a orginal opel kadett (GM) Germany. They was produced in 1930 -1940. After the WW2 the ussr removed the factory to ussr and start to produced the car there. There were lots of them in Norway after the ww2 to 1960.They were cheep to buy at the time.

    • Tirefriar

      The original Opel Kadett was the basis for Moskvitch 401. The Kapitan was reincarnated as Gaz 19 or better known as Pobeda.

  8. Mark S Member

    If it is built like the Ural motorcycle you will drive it then fix it, drive it some more then fix it again, drive it again fix it again, well you get the picture. The big problem is you can get parts for a Ural. This car really should be in a car museum.

  9. Dolphin Member

    Design and technology 10 – 20 years behind the times back in ’62, and only available to high level Party members. Who could want more than that from a car “industry”?

    • Tirefriar

      In those times, party members rode around in ZiL, Gaz 13/14 (Chaika) and ubiquitous Gaz 21 (Volga). Moskvitch cars were intended for somewhat more successful members of the Soviet society. That’s really not saying much when compared to what the Western world offered its consumers but for an average Soviet citizen this was something to strive for.

      It’s too bad this car is not in the US, I would have been a player. It would be a great conversation piece. Most of the Soviet automotive industry copied US and European mechanical components in their cars – if ain’t broke, let’s use it! So getting this little Commie gem to run shouldn’t be all that difficult.

  10. Per Member

    That is correct. The design and technology were at least 20 years behind the times after the WW2 in ussr.

  11. Bill

    The great thing about Barnfinds.com. You are CAR GUYS!!! You like cars. not just Tri-5 Chevies and Super Cars. you don’t necessarily care if the car has an L6 as opposed to the Big Block option. You love Cars! That is what being a car guy is. When you can find something cool in every car made and not just hack on it for too many doors and not enough horses. i love this site, abd yes.. I would TOTALLY drive the little Soviet sedan here. I’d drive the snot out of it. when it packed up, i’d put an import or Domestic 4 cyl drive train in it and drive it some more. There is coolness there.

  12. Per Member

    I have a 1950 chevy and a 1936 plymouth, audi and volkswagen in the garage.

  13. gerry Member

    Car is not in the states.
    If you read the description it says price includes shipment from original owner to naples Florida. States they specialize in eastern bloc cars.

    Cool little car but I’d be leary of someone representing a car for sale in Florida when it in fact hasn’t left whatever country it is in and no mention of if it can be legally imported

    • Blyndgesser

      Legal import shouldn’t be a problem for a car this old as long as there’s valid ownership paperwork.

  14. Roseland Pete

    I think this car is similar to the one made “famous” in the chase scene of a 1961 cold-war comedy named “One, Two, Three.” As you can tell from this clip, those cars were like a Timex watch, they just kept on ticking…more or less. :) https://youtu.be/6x2oNMmpWKE

  15. Steve

    One thing that looks odd on the car are the license plate holders. Why do you need such large plate holders when the US plates are all standard size? That kind of raises questions about the origins of this vehicle.

  16. Vwbubblehead

    I actually have driven one of these. Back in 1993, on an class trip to Russia. It was my first time driving a 3 on the tree. It made my VW Bug feel like a Cadillac.

  17. Wayne S.K.

    Neat little car! If I were still able, I’d jump on this… :)

  18. Bill McCoskey

    I have an original English language version of the 403 owner’s handbook, picked it up at a car event in England. Not a typical handbook, as it goes into all the mechanical repairs except for overhaul of the major components. One thing I will never forget was the instructions for adjusting the front bench seat for taller/shorter people: Remove the 2 wing nuts [1 per side] attaching the seat rails to the floor. Lift the entire seat off the studs sticking up from the floor, and move the seat forward or backward as needed! [Don’t forget to re-install the wing nuts & tighten them!]

    It reminds me of the East German Trabant’s fuel gauge; With the small fuel tank located above the right rear of the engine [bolted to the firewall] the fuel gauge was a plastic stick clipped to the underside of the hood. Open the fuel filler cap and put the stick in until it touches bottom. Remove the stick & check where the wet fuel indicates how much fuel is left in the tank.

    And . . . A friend related this story when he went on a road trip shortly before the USSR collapsed. He said that the self service petrol stations had a kiosk where you paid up front for fuel, then stuck the hose into your vehicle’s filler neck, and ONLY THEN did you turn on the pump, because there was no safety valve at all. Those driver’s who were not sure if the amount of fuel paid for would overfill the tank or not, kept an extra empty fuel can at the ready, so if the car’s tank started to overflow, they quickly switched from filling the car, to filling the extra can!

    He also insisted that many of the wooden houses in eastern Europe were a very dark gray, almost black, because house paint was not available, & they coated the exterior of the houses with used motor oil to keep the houses from rotting! I visited the former DDR in 1996, and I did see a fair number of these “black” houses & barns.

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