Russian Ride: 1987 SMZ S-3D

We have featured a couple of these unusual Soviet-era “invalid cars” here before at Barn Finds. Needless to say, they’re among the most unusual vehicles to be shown here, brought to you by the most unusual person here (me). Here’s another one that won’t get lost in the big-box-store parking lot, it’s a 1987 SMZ S-3D. This green machine can be found here on eBay in Worcester, United Kingdom. I know, they’re never in the U.S., I’d jump on it for sure. The current bid is over £1,000 ($1,256) and there are a handful of days left on the auction so you can figure out the shipping.

This isn’t a dusty muscle car or a just-found-after-20-years-in-storage short bed pickup, but hopefully there are a few thousand readers who appreciate seeing something unusual every once in a while here? Guys? Hello? (heels on a marble floor) (train whistle in the distance). These cars were made for injured Soviet war veterans and others who couldn’t use their legs to operate pedals, thus the “invalid car” connection. They were operated by hand controls which you’ll see once we get to the equally-unusual interior. The front compartment is just that, the trunk/boot, where you’ll put your luggage as you drive this baby across the country on vacation.

I don’t know what it is about these that gets to me. Maybe the size? The rarity? The color for sure on this example. A small, two-door, lime green Soviet car operated by hand controls with a two-cycle engine? Yes all day on that for me. The engine is in the back which is good, maybe for the same reason that some steam trains used to go up mountain passes backward so the belching coal smoke would be the last thing to go through the tunnel and it didn’t clog the tunnel with black smoke and asphyxiate the crew with noxious black smoke. Sounds fun, eh? It’s best to have a blue-smoke-belching two-stroke engine in the rear of your car so you aren’t breathing it in every time you drive. But, about those vehicles behind you.. hmm.. There are a few videos showing these cars in action but I like this one on YouTube showing a gentleman going through it in detail, in Russian, for those of you who говорить по-русски (speak Russian).

See, no pedals. There are some unusual controls here but these cars really did serve a purpose in allowing folks who couldn’t use their legs to get around. They weren’t sold but were leased to those folks and were supposed to be turned back in, but quite a few of them were somehow registered as private vehicles and a lot of them seem to have ended up in Great Britain. The Brits had their own version, the Invacar, but there’s something cool about a Soviet-era vehicle like this. As far as restoring this car, the seats look good but I’d want to redo them and the door panels, not to mention the headliner which has a weird dark spot above where the driver’s head would have been.

An engine-out restoration may be a bit easier on this car than what most of us are used to. This is a Russian-made IZH-P3-01 motorcycle engine with 346cc and 18 hp. This car arrived in the UK from Lithuania in 2016 and the seller says that “although no attempt has been made to start the car since it arrived here, the engine is believed to be in good health and shouldn’t take much to get it going again”. I would have to believe that any motorcycle shop could get this Baltic beauty ping-ping-pinging again in no time. Have any of you seen one of these unusual cars before? I mean, other than here at Barn Finds?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Kenneth Carney

    Would love to have this and turn it into an
    EV as that 2-cycle mill wouldn’t pass
    emissions tests here in the ‘states. You’d
    have to use the more modern lithium-ion
    battery packs as they are somewhat
    smaller than regular deep cycle lead-acid
    units. A 10 hp electric motor should get
    this lightweight little bugger along quite
    nicely. I estimate that 72 volts will be
    the magic number for the amount of
    batteries you’ll need to power this thing
    up after you do the conversion to EV.
    A lot of what you’ll need can be found at
    your local golf cart shop. An alternator
    from a car could be used to power the
    lights and radio once you’ve figured out
    where to mount it in the car after you switch the drive pulley to a sprocket to
    use the car’s chain drive to turn it. The
    only thing to figure out is just how much
    parasitic drag it will put on the electric
    motor when it is being used. Well, that’s
    about it. …Now you can tell me how
    crazy I am.

    Like 4
  2. Dave, Australia

    This joke couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, it would leave people in fits of laughter wherever it went

    Like 2
  3. Derek

    I’d have the neighbouring 126 in a flash…!

    Like 3
  4. Coventrycat

    I applaud your PC use of the word “unusual”.

    Like 1
  5. Beatnik Bedouin

    Yes, Scotty, it is unusual. The Eastern Bloc manufactured a number of ‘invalids’ machines (check out the racy number from Poland, included in this post). They were initially designed for injured WWII ex-soldiers, I’ve been told.

    One could collect all the different varieties, and as Dave, Australia notes, could bring much mirth to one’s community. Works for me, anyway… ;-)

    Like 3
  6. Rob S.

    Doesnt this look like Mr. Incredibles ride!?

    Like 6
  7. James Turner

    I think V W had the better idea on these basic body/ engine designs when, THE THING was introduced in the 70,s. They had more room and beefier engines. Of course the V W
    THING was produced years later than these handicapped cars.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds