Although we have seen virtually everything in the middle of this SUV fever, sedans with high suspension are still considered somewhat exotic (read more here). But the concept is not new. The Russian GAZ-61-73, from 1941, can be considered the first “SUV sedan” in the history of the automobile. Learn more about the curious history of this model, which had the decisive contribution of Ford to its development.
To tell the story of the GAZ-61, we must return to 1929, when the Soviet Union and Ford signed a technological cooperation agreement. In the factory created for the partnership, named GAZ, began to be produced in 1932 the GAZ-A (Ford Model A produced under license).
In 1936, to replace the GAZ-A, the brand launched the GAZ-M1, which was a combination of the Model A (engineered to develop 50 hp) engine and the Ford 40 Sedan’s sedan body to the Soviet innovations such as suspension reinforced and stamped steel wheels. In addition to the technical drawings of Ford’s new car, GAZ also received from the Americans the technology for the manufacture of metal bodywork, a novelty that allowed the production of cheaper cabins and more resistant to variations in temperature.
With this technological help from the United States, Soviet engineers began to create other vehicles. And one of them was the GAZ-61. Starting from the Ford platform, the Soviet engineers created from scratch a 4 × 4 traction system, which was combined with a new inline six-cylinder 76 hp engine (derived from a Chrysler design) and the four-speed gearbox coming from the Ford AA truck.
The pioneering SUV was 105 km / h at full speed and had an angle of attack of 38 degrees, as well as being able to cross flooded stretches up to 72 cm deep. Initially offered only with a four-door convertible body, the GAZ-61-73, launched in 1941, came to bring the closed body of the M1, which was much more appropriate to the local climate.
With the Soviet Union entering World War II in 1941, the GAZ-61s were mainly used as command vehicles by the Red Army generals. In total, about 200 model units were produced.