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ZAZ Zaporozhets (Ukrainian: Запоро́жець; Russian: Запоро́жец pronunciation (help·info)) was a series of subcompact cars designed and built from 1958 at the ZAZ factory in Soviet Ukraine (Ukrainian: Запорізький автомобільний завод Zaporizkyi Avtomobilnyi Zavod, or Zaporizhian Automobile Factory). Different types of Zaporozhets were produced until 1994.
Zaporozhets is still warmly remembered in many ex-USSR countries. Like the Volkswagen Beetle or East Germany's Trabant, Soviet Zaporozhets was destined to become a "people's car". It was the cheapest Soviet car and so the most affordable to common people. At the same time, it was rather sturdy and well suited to Soviet roads. They were known for good crossing performance on poor roads, better than bigger Soviet passenger cars. Their advantage was also ease of repairs. The very looks of this car gave birth to several nicknames that stuck with it forever: horbatyi ("hunchback", due to ZAZ-965 insect-like form; ZAZ factory workers never used this nickname), malysh (English: Kiddy), ushastyi ("big-eared", due to air intakes on each side to cool the rear-mounted engine of the ZAZ-966/968), mylnitsa ("soap-box", for ZAZ-968M, lacking "ears").
Numerous special versions of Zaporozhets were equipped with additional sets of controls that allowed operating the car with a limited set of limbs or completely by hands, and were given for free or with big discounts to the disabled people, especially war veterans, as an alternative to SMZ-series microcars (such variants reached at times up to 20% of ZAZ output).
ZAZ-965 Zaporozhets and ZAZ-965A Zaporozhets 
ZAZ-965 Zaporozhets 
ZAZ-965 Zaporozhets model was made between 1960 and 1969. Design work started in 1956 at AZLK car plant, and first prototypes were designated as Moskvitch-444. The car was patterned upon the Fiat 600, with similar general composition, body, transmission, steering mechanism and rear suspension. Among main differences was air-cooled V-engine of indigenous design, bigger wheels and front suspension on torsion bars. One of reasons of choosing a rearwards-opening doors was easier access for disabled persons. In 1958 the Soviet government decided to start production of the car in reformed ZAZ factory, under a designation ZAZ-965. Further development of the car was carried out in ZAZ factory. The original ZAZ-965 differed from the ZAZ-965A. The turn signal light was moved from above of the head light to below, as seen in ZAZ-965A.
ZAZ-965A Zaporozhets 
The base model was manufactured between November 1960 and 1963, and the modernized ZAZ-965A, between November 1962 and May 1969. 322,106 were made in total.
It was powered by a MeMZ-965 rear-mounted, aircooled OHV 887 cc V4 engine of partially aluminium design, giving 27 PS (20 kW). From November 1966 some cars were fitted with 30 PS (22 kW) MeMZ-965A engine. A common (and false) urban legend is that the Zaporozhets engine was used as a starter motor in Soviet tanks.
Interestingly, the engine looks a bit like the VW aircooled boxer four, except that the two cylinder banks are at a 90 degree angle. As Soviet car owners were expected to do much of the servicing themselves, and auto workshops were in short supply anyway, this layout was more practical especially in harsh winter conditions.
Apart from versions for the disabled (ZAZ-965B, AB, AR), a small number were made in more luxurious export variant ZAZ-965AE Yalta.
ZAZ-966 Zaporozhets, ZAZ-968 Zaporozhets and ZAZ-968M Zaporozhets 
ZAZ-966 Zaporozhets 
ZAZ-966 Zaporozhets model was made from late 1966 to 1972, although the prototype was ready in 1961. It had a completely restyled bodywork, no longer resembling the Fiat 600, but now resembling Chevrolet Corvair or the German NSU Prinz. It introduced significant "ears" - air intakes on sides. Also a rear suspension was new. A simpler and first produced variant was ZAZ-966V (ЗАЗ-966В in Ukrainian), with 27 hp engine from ZAZ-965A, while a main variant ZAZ-966 was fitted with upgraded 41 hp (31 kW) MeMZ-968 1.2 l engine. ZAZ-966V was also produced in several special variants for disabled (VR, VB, VB2 - until January 1973).
ZAZ-968 Zaporozhets 
ZAZ-968 Zaporozhets was produced from 1971 to 1980. The engine remained the same 41 hp MeMZ-968, only the body was slightly modernized. Most visible difference was replacing a fake chrome grille in the car's front with a horizontal chrome decoration. Among other changes was less austere dashboard and better front brakes. Basic model ZAZ-968 was produced until 1978. From 1973 until 1980 there was produced model ZAZ-968A, which introduced new safety measures, including safer driving wheel and black plastic dashboard instead of a metal one. Also ZAZ-968 had its variants for the disabled, with weaker 27 hp engine (ZAZ-968R, B, B2, AB, AB2).
ZAZ-968M Zaporozhets 
ZAZ-968M Zaporozhets had the ears removed and was made from 1979 to 1994. Some of the special models include the ZAZ-968B2, for drivers who have only one foot, the ZAZ-968B for drivers who have no feet, and the ZAZ-968A which had the smaller 0.7 Litre engine.
Models for export 
Along with basic models, the plant also released special models for export - ZAZ-965E, ZAZ-965AE, ZAZ-966E, ZAZ-968E, and ZAZ-968AE, which had improved consumer qualities. Depending on target markets, commercial names Jalta or Eliette were used for these models.--
See also 
Similar aircooled and rear engined vehicles:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: ZAZ|
- ZAZ-968A, Avtolegendy SSSR Nr.4, DeAgostini 2008, ISBN 978-5-9774-0409-9, (Russian)
- FIAT begins to produce Zaporozhets (Russian)
- ZAZ-965/965A, Avtolegendy SSSR Nr.17, DeAgostini 2009, ISSN 2071-095X, (Russian)
- ZAZ-966 "Zaporozhets", Avtolegendy SSSR Nr.36, DeAgostini 2010, ISSN 2071-095X, (Russian)
|ZAZ, a subsidiary of UkrAVTO Group, car timeline, 1960s–present|
|City car||965 Zaporozhets|
|Subcompact||966 Zaporozhets||968/968M Zaporozhets|
|1102 Tavria||1102 Tavria Nova|
|1105 Dana||1103 Slavuta|
|Pickup||11055 Tavria Pickup|