EASTERN RACING CARS

In several Eastern countries, although the car was intended as a simple transport vehicle by the Comminist "diktat", the automotive sports were always important. Although the lack of experience and technical resources, interesting cars with engines taken from the normal production were realized. On this page, there is some example of this type, probably only a little part of the cars effectively realized. Some car was already described on the pages dedicated to GAZ, Moskvich, Wartburg and Skoda. Others, instead, were discovered by me recently ("Estonia" and "Mikojan" racing cars, and all the Soviet cars for the speed records). Some pic is taken from http://amevo.narod.ru/, a very beautiful site that i suggest.  

 

Soviet cars for the speed records

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In order to show the Soviet technical power, in USSR several cars for the speed records were realized, sometime with poor results, but often with very appreciable performances! One of the early attempts was the "Zvezda-1", realized in the 1948 ("zvezda" means "star" in Russian), equipped with a twin-cylinder engine, two strokes, with "undoubled cylinders" (one combustion chamber for each pair of pistons)), derived from the German DKW "UL 350" racing motorcycle: 350 cc., liquid cooled, supercharged, 42 hp. The transmission was of Mercedes-Benz origin. The aerodynamic was very good, with a Cx= 0,13! This car, driven by Andrei Ponizovkin, reached the 160 km/h, but gone beyond the 200 km/h on the following version (with a more powerful engine and a 4-speed gearbox derived from an Ural motorcycle). In the second pic, above, there is a following version, called "Zvezda M-NAMI" (1952), always with the same unit, but with a displacemet of 368 cc, 64 hp, 215 km/h: not bad for a little pre-war two-stroke engine!

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Same technical features for the "Zvezda-5" (first pic above) and "Zvezda-6" (second and third pcis), realized respectively in the 1955 and 1957. The engine was a 250 cc, always two stroke and supercharged, with 4-speeds gearbox, indipendent suspensions. The "Zvezda-5" is shorter (3, 20 meters) and lighter (360 kg), with a power of 50 hp, 200 km/h; the "Zvezda-6", instead, had a more powerful engine (54 hp) and, although the higher weight (420 kg), it was capable of 220 km/h.  The engineer of these cars was A. Peltsser, who based these models always of the pre-war German DKW engine. 

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Always during the '50s, a team of engineers in the city of Kharkov realized the cars in the three pics above. The first version, called "Kharkov-1" (first pic, above), engineered and driven by V.K. Nikitin, had a mechanical part derived from the GAZ "Pobjeda", increased to 2500 cc, and with new carburettors and exhaust system. The coachwork, realized in aluminium, had two cabins, for driver and mechanic. Unfortunately, because of the poor rigidity and stability of the frame (derived from the old GAZ "M-1" of the '30s), the result was modest: less than 180 km/h as max speed. After a slight evolution of the same machine, the "Kharkov-3" (1951, second pic) was launched. It had always a GAZ engine, but placed in the rear, and equipped with supercharger and twin spark ignition: the max speed grown until 202 km/h. With the "Kharkov-6" (1952, third pic), there was an outstanding jump about the performances: the classic GAZ four-cylinders engine was totally revisited, with a new twin-cam head, two superchargers (one for each pair of cylinders), lubrification with separate oil tank. So prepared, the old and quiet GAZ engine reached the 200 hp, and allowed to take a max speed of 280 km/h! There was also another car, equipped with a V8 engine, 3000 cc, derived from the lorry GAZ "51" (!), boosted up to 220 hp, but the speed was slightly worser than the "Kharkov-6": 271 km/h. After the "Kharkov-6", the project of the following "Kharkov - 7" began. On the machine it was supposed to establish a totally new special racing V8 engine designed by A.V. Sirjatskogo (1974 cc, 340 hp/6500 rev/min) and a five-step box of transfers. Theorical speed, 350 km/h. Circumstances, however, stopped this interesting design.

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The cars in the two pics above, instead, were realized -always in the city of Kharkov by Edward Osipovich Lorent between the 1952 and the 1955. The first car (in the b/w pic) was called "Kharkov-L1", and was equipped with an original unit: a parallel twin-cylinder engine, four stroke, DOHC, with a displacement of only 250 cc, with 45 hp, liquid cooling system and a supercharger. This engine was placed rear, in the front part there were the radiator and the fuel tank. Because of the use of aluminium and magnesium for several parts (coachwork, wheels, crankcase, etc.), the total weight was very low: only 360 kg! Indeed, this little car was very fast: 203 km/h, not bad for a 250 cc. engine! Of the same engine, also 350 and 500 cc. versions were realized: with the 500 cc, the car reached the 222 km/h. The following "Kharkov-L2" of the 1955 (second pic above) was substantially similar, although several improvements on the frame and on the coachwork. 

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In the four pics above, other prototypes realized in Kharkov by the "KADI" Research Institute. In the first pic, there is the "KADI-3", nicknamed "pencil" because of the shape: designed in the 1963 by T.Utemov under supervision of V.K. Nikitin, it was equipped with a single-cylinder Jawa-ESO motorcycle engine, 500 cc, 36 hp, four-speeds gearbox. The weight was very low, 180 kg, and the dimensions very small: lenght 4 meters, height 50 cm, width 67 cm (!); moreover, the wheels had dimensions slightly bigger than the wheels of a skateboard! In the second and third pics, the following "KADI-4", before and...after an attempt of record: the car, equipped with a 3000 cc. engine, had a tyre bursted in full speed; the driver was alive for a miracle! In the fourth and fifth pics, the prototype "Pioneer-2", realized in Kharkov in the 1961. Frame and coachwork were the sames of the "Kharkov-L1", with indipendent suspensions and magnesium wheels (total weight 485 kg)...but the little 250 cc. parallel-twin derived from a motorcycle, was replaced by two gas-turbine engines, each with 135 cv, for 310 km/h! 

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In the first and second pics above, the "KADI-5" of the 1966, powered with various engines derived from the GAZ "M-21 Volga" (also an experimental 3000 cc. version with 126 hp, previously tested on the "KADI-4"). The last version of this prototype had a weight of 550 kg, and was capable of 290 km/h. The following "KADI-7" (1966, third and fourth pic) was realized on the base of the previously aborted project of the "Kharkov-7" of some year before. The "KADI-7" was equipped with a gas-turbine derived from the helicopters GTD-350 (!), for 400 hp of max power. This time, the max speed was 350 km/h...performances very different from the normal Russian cars! With the engine of the "M-21 Volga", in the 1969 also a dragster was realized: the "Leningrad-D" (fifth pic), designed by A.N. Kapustinym. This vehicle had the normal GAZ engine, increased to 2865 cc...and, indeed, the power remained very modest: 115 hp....the same power of a modern common-rail diesel. Therefore, the performances of these vehicle were allowed only by the reduced weight (380 kg).   

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The "KADI" institute had also the far-sightedness to realize also cars for the speed records with electric engines. In the first pic above, there is the "KADI-11E", realized in the 1972: on this electric car, in the 1973, the driver J. Stebchenko obtained an official record (1 km from stop at 93 km/h, and max speed of 145 km/h); the following year, V.Gavrilenko improved the resul (1 km from stop with exit at 109 km/h). The following "KADI-13E" of the 1974-77 (second and third pics), was realized even to beat the Americans in that field; the car was equipped with a 10-kilowatt engine, its weight was only 350 kg, although the weight of the accumulators. With this car, D.Silchiku obtained a world record (500 m from stop with exit at 96 km/h, and 1 km launched at 161 km/h!). Moreover, this vehicle was capable to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 9,5 seconds, and to reach the 265 km/h. One of the last prototypes realized in Kharkov, instead, was the "KADI-24" of the 1984 (fourth pic), powered by a single-cylinder Jawa 500 taken from a speedway motorcycle, 73 hp (77 hp in the 750 cc. version), mounted behind the rear axle. The KADI, during the years '80s,  realized also other prototypes, but they never were used, because of the economic crisis of the late years of the Soviet Union.

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Also the official carmakers (GAZ, ZIL and Moskvitch) realized own cars for the speed records. In the first pic above, an exemplar of GAZ "Pobjeda Sport" (1951), powered by the same engine of the normal "Pobjeda", increased to 2500 cc, and equipped (on the several versions) with aluminium head, high-compression pistons, twin-spark ignition and supercharger, for a max power of 105 hp and a max speed of 165 km/h on the later versions (to tell the truth, enough slow...). Same mechanical part for the car in the second pic, strangely called GAZ "Torpedo", equipped -differently from the "Pobjeda Sport"- with a specific tubular skeleton in duraluminium: with the same power, the speed was increased to 190 km/h, thanks to the improved weight and aerodynamic. In the third pic, the ZIS "112 Sport", with a V8 engine, 6000 cc, 192 hp and 210 km/h, and in the fourth pic, the Moskvitch "G2",  equipped with a 1400 cc derived from the "407" sedan (obviously tuned), 70 hp, and 223 km/h (see also the pages about  GAZ, ZIL and Moskvitch). 

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  But an outstanding symbol of this Soviet challenge, was the GAZ turbo-jet prototype (above) realized in the 1954 by A. Smolin in order to win the absolute record of max speed about the cars (held by the Americans, 694 km/h). The turbine engine was derived even from a jet MIG-17, with a power of 2700 hp on the aeronautical version! The machine was tested by the driver M. Metelev, with the obligation to not exceed the 300 km/h (waiting for better tyres for the high speeds), but it was surely capable of much more than 300 km/h...unfortunately, logistic problems (and also an accident, although not grave) stopped the challenge. 

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And the "missile" GAZ was not the only one prototype with aeronautical engine: in 1969 (maybe for a reply to Armstrong on the moon?), in Kharkov it was realized the "KADI-9" (three pics above), another real "rocket" powered by a turbine RD-9 BF (always derived from a MIG jet), capable of 3800 kg/f of thrust!!! The frame (first pic) was tubular with plastic panels, the weight 2500 kg, the front wheels were coupled (initially with rubber tyres, subsequently entirely in metal). The tests were conducted initially in the airport of Volgograd, subsequently on the Lake Baskunchak. Unfortunately, also this time the lack of logistic conditions didn't allowed to reach the max speed (1200 km/h!!!). A pity! 

 

"Formula" cars from Czechoslovakia and ex-DDR

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In the ex-East Germany, the only cars for the private mobility were the Trabant and the Wartburg, both with little two-stroke engine, with low performances. Although this situation, the German tuner Heinz Melkus obtained valid racing cars. Since the 1959, some exemplar of competition car with Wartburg or Trabant engine was realized. These car were intended for the national "Junior" class. The exemplars equipped with Wartburg units, has a power of 70 hp, with three carburettors. In the first and second pics above, two of the early Melkus cars, and in the third and fourth pics, a model of the '60/'70s, always with Wartburg engine, called "Zigarre" (cigar) for the typical shape of the coachwork.

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In the 1977, Heinz Melkus realized a new car : the "MT-77", in the first, second and third pics above. This car had a Lada 1300 cc. engine, 120 hp, 260 km/h, and a good aerodynamic. Previously, in the 1973, also the "Spider" in the fourth pic was realized. The "MT-77" was the most used Formula-3 car in the former East Germany till the 1989, when the fall of the Communist regime allowed the purchease of more modern and competitive Formula cars.  

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In Czekoslovakia, the little Skoda  sedans with rear engine were transformed in racing cars! Up (first, second, third and fourth pics), the Skoda F3 (1963), equipaggiata with a 1000 cc. engine, derivated from the "MB-1000" sedan, boosted up to 76 hp. The max speed was 210 km/h, the weight was very low: 410 kg (the coachwork was all-aluminium). This car obtained a poor success in the international competitions, but, for the simple and reliable substance of the project, it was used for the national "Skoda Trophy". Another racing single-seat Skoda, was the "B5" (last pic, above), always derivated from the normal sedans, and intended for the national competitions. 

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Also the Tatra, the other great Czechoslovakian brand besides the Skoda, realized also some interesting racing car. From the "Tatraplan" model (with flat-four engine, air cooled, placed rear), the Tatra engineers obtained the car in the first and second and third pics above: the "T-602" or "Tatraplan Sport", realized for the GP of Czechoslovakia of the 1949, with an aluminium coachwork that covers the rear wheels. In the 1950, instead, even a F.1 car was realized (!), the "T-607" (fourth, fifth and sixth pics above), with 200 hp. Both these cars were equipped with the pre-production engines of the sedan "T603" (V8, 2500 cc, DOHC, air cooled, placed behind the rear axle). 

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In the two pics above, other two unknown cars. The car in the first pic above, called Tatra "Delfin", was realized in the 1963, and it had an in-line four-cylinder engine, obtained from the half of the V8 of the "T603". The second car, instead, called Tatra "T605", was realized some year before, in the 1956: it was equipped with a little 650 cc. twin-cylinder engine, the opposite of the big Czech eight-cylinders! I don't have other data: if you know more about these two cars, please contact me! 

 

The Moskvitch F.1 (!!!) 

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In the 1951, the engineer I. Gladilin realized the first of a series of car specifically engineered for the competitions (although with power units derived from the normal production): the Moskvitch "G1" (first and second pics, above), with aluminium coachwork and a 1100 cc. engine, 70 hp, 190 km/h, derived from the model "405" (subsequently, this engine was replaced with the newer "407" engine, 1358 cc.). This power unit was even equipped with four carburettors derived from the motorcycle Izh-49 , therefore realized for a two-stroke engine! The total weight was 670 kg. Same technical base for the "G2" in the third, fourth and fifth pics (also used in the speed record, but with a closed cabin on the driver seat), equipped with a 1400 cc engine, and capable of 223 km/h with the aerodynamic kit. 

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 In the 1961, the "G3" (first and second pics, above), designed by L. Shugorov and more derived from the production models, was launched. The engine was placed front, the tubular frame was renforced in comparison with the previous models; the suspension were indipendent on the front wheels. The engine -derived from the "407" model- received convex pistons, and the power was increased to 76 hp. In the 1963, the following "G4" (third and fourth pics, above) was realized, again with rear engine (derived from the "403" model), and equipped with better carburettors of Western production (Weber). The suspension were indipendent on both the axles, the power was 81 hp (92 hp with the following "412" engine). Also this car obtained several successes in the USSR championships. With the "407" engine, also another racing car was equipped, although not directly realized by Moskvitch: the "KVN-1300 G" (fifth pic), realized in the 1960 by V. Kosenkov. Its weight was 500 kg, the power 70 hp, for a max speed of 200 km/h.  

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In the '60s, the Soviet industry thinks to "show the muscles" also in the automotive competitions (see also the Zil page), realizing a F.1 CAR! In the 1965 the Moskvitch starts the developement of a 1500 cc. DOHC engine, 8 cylinders, with 200 hp/10.500 rpm (!), for the "G5" (first pic above), the car for the Russian ambitions in the F1. The engine was named "GD-1", and, already during the first tests, was capable to develope an effective power of 162 hp/6000 rpm. For the developement of the cylinders and the valves, the engine of the Vostok "S-360" motorcycle (parallel twin, DOHC) was taken as example (in the second pic, one head of the F1 engine). The camshafts works on roller bearings; the total weight of the engine, complete with four dual Weber carburettors, was 158 kg. Moreover, for the first time in Russia, disk brakes on all the wheels were adopted. The coachwork (realized in fiberglass) was developed in the wind tunnel. Although this effort, the lack of financing by the Soviet ministry for the sport activities stopped this interesting project. The "G5" was subsequently "recycled" for the national competitions, with a 4-in line engine derived from the "412" sedan, but with a new DOHC head, and with a displacement increased to 1840 cc, for a max power of 124 hp (third pic, above). The only remaining part of the F1 project, besided the chassis, was also the gearbox, specifically developed for the F1. Anyway, the Moskvitch "G5" remains as the only real effort of automotive challenge by the Soviet Union: unfortunately, the rockets for the war have stolen the money for the rockets on four wheels...a pity!

 

Other Soviet and Russian racing cars

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Here's some example of other Soviet and Russian racing cars. The blue car in the first pic, above, was called "Saljut-M", it was realized in the 1949, and it had a 500 cc. twin-cylinder engine, two-stroke, 58 hp, with "undoubled cylinders" (similar to the "Zvezda" prototypes for the speed records); the suspensions were indipendent, with torsion bars and rubber elements; the weight, only 400 kg. In the second pic above, instead, the "Sokol 650" of the 1952, realized for the international "Formula-2" competitions. It was substantially derived from a project of the German "Auto Union" (now well known as Audi), requisitioned by the Russians after the occupation of the East Germany. The engine, placed centrally, was a 1990 cc, 152 hp/8000 rpm, four cylinders, DOHC, with four Solex carburettors and with the crankshaft on roller bearings; the suspensions were indipendent on the front axle, ant with the De Dion system on the rear axle. Unfortunately, this car never had other developements. Another little racing car was the NAMI "041-M" (third pic), destined to the F3 competitions (class 500 cc.). It was realized in the 1959 by A. Pelttser (already mentioned about the "Zvezda" record cars), and it had an engine derived from the serial Ural motorcycles, flat-twin 500 cc. with 40 hp for 150 km/h of max speed. The weight was very low: 290 kg. In the 1961, the car was modified with an engine derived from the Ural racing motorcycles, always flat-twin, but with double overhead camshaft, and 50 hp.  

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In the first, second and third pics above, the GA-22, realized by V. Shakverdov in the 1958-1959 with the engine of the GAZ "M-21 Volga": weight 900 kg, power 84 hp for 200 km/h. The same engineer previously realized, in the 1957, also the car in the fourth pic, called "GM-20", based on the GAZ "M-20 Pobjeda" engine with side valves: 60 hp, 180 km/h, weight 800 kg. The "GAZ-22" and "GM-20" had the cardan shaft placed at the side of the drive place, lowering the position of the driver.

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Another GAZ-powered racing car, was the prototype in the first pic above, called KVN "2500-S": realized in the 1959 in a taxi workshop in Leningrad (!) by V. Kosenkov, it had a "M-21 Volga" engine boosted to 90 hp, 2500 cc (also the suspensions were derived from the same car), only three speeds gearbox, aluminium coachwork, total weight 850 kg, max speed only 160 km/h. Also another exemplar was realized, with the same layout, but with the engine of the GAZ "12-ZIM", in-line six cylinders, 3500 cc, 110 hp, always three-speeds gearbox, total weight 920 kg, max speed 170 km/h  (KVN "3500-S", second pic). In the third pic, the "Kiev" prototype of the 1959, realized by A. Zemstov: this car was realized in three exemplars, with the GAZ "M-21 Volga" engine or with the Moskvitch "407" engine (1360 cc); it had the feature of the gull-wings doors, a not common feature for a Russian car!  The car in the fourth pic, instead, was realized in the 1959 by some workers of a factory of...lorries (!), and it was inspired, about coachwork and frame, even to the Mercedes-Benz "300-SLR"! Called MAZ "1500-S" (MAZ was the name of the lorries factory), it had the engine of the Moskvtich "407", 1360 cc, 60 hp, four carburettors, gearbox with only three speeds, fiberglass coachwork, indipendent front suspensions (behind with De Dion axle and torsion bars), weight 730 kg, max speed 165 km/h. It was realized in two exemplars.

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In the three pics above, the "KADI-1", "KADI-8" and "KADI-10", realized in Kharkov, Ukraine. The "KADI-1" was realized in the 1953 by L.Kononov, the "KADI-8" was released in the 1967, probably equipped with a GAZ engine, four cylinder or V8. The "KADI-10" of the 1971, was simply a revisited version of the "KADI-8", with an improved frame and aerodynamic. In the fourth pic, instead, the more recent "KADI-29", launched in the 1991 and equipped with a Lada VAZ-2106 engine, boosted to 140 hp; still today, this car partecipates, obviously in an updated version, to the national competitions in Ukraine. 

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In 1957, Ants Seiler and a couple of his collegues started to make a racing car as a hobby, in the city of Tallin (Estonia). The first engine was a 500cm3 motorcycle unit produced in the city of Serpuchov (where the "Vostok" GP-bikes were produced), and the gearbox was taken out of a Volkswagen. This car was called "Estonia-1" (first pic, above), and it was followed by other models ("Estonia-2" in the second pic, and "Estonia-3" in the third and fourth pics), quite different by the suspension, but not that much by the looks. The Estonia-3 was powered by an IMZ-Ural twin-flat engine, 500 cc, 35 hp, for a max speed of 150 km/h.

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However, the in the years '60s the Estonia factory came into financial difficulties, and Ants Seiler was forced to leave, founding a place in Tartu, where he construct two new sportscars. The first, called Tartu-1 (four pics above), was a beautiful spider with the engine of the GAZ "Volga M-21", placed centrally and coupled to a gearbox of the ZAZ "966", rotated of 180 degrees. 

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The other car, called Tartu-2 (three pics above), always produced in the '60s, was a formula car. Unfortunately, i don't have other informations about this car: if somebody has interesting information about, he can email me!  

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In the 1962, the Estonia factory was restructured. In the early '70s, after other models ("Estonia-9") powered by a Wartburg 900 cc. engine (three cylinders, two stroke), the Estonian factory produced new models with Moskvich 1500 cc. engines (OHC, 4-cylinders). The new car got for a name Estonia-16 and disk-brakes all around. Also first magnesium wheels were made for this model, which a bit bigger than its predecessors. The Moskvitch engine was replaced, on the following Estonia-18, by the newer and lighter Lada 2101 engine. During the same period, also cars with GAZ "Chaika" engine were realized, and also with engines taken from the Izh "Jupiter" and the Czech ESO motorcycles (the Izh-powered model was called "Estonia 15-M". Above, in sequence, there are the pics of the "Estonia-9", "Estonia-14", "Estonia-15M" (third and fourth pics), "Estonia-16" and "Estonia-18"

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The Estonia-20 of the 1980 (above, first and second pics) got front and rear wings and was a successful model on all circuits: it had a Lada 1300 cc, 85 hp, 200 km/h, total weight 460 kg. The most successful Estonia car by production numbers was the Estonia-21, third pic (with the "21-10" evolution, fourth pic). The totally new aerodynamic design, which was tested at russian military aircraft factories, made it a lot faster; 295 exemplars of them were made. All these cars (always with tuned Lada engines, with almost 120-130 hp, enough good with the low weight of these cars) were made for the Soviet "Formula-1600". 

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In the middle of 80-s, the Estonia-24 (first pic, above) made its debut. It was the first model with aluminum monocock, but it was also the last produced during the CCCP (and CSI) period. The first car produced after the indipendence of the Estonian republic, was the "Estonia-25" (1994)...no, it's not a Ferrari, although the red paint! After the fall of the Soviet union, the Volkswagen engines replaced progressively the outdated Lada 1600 units (today, these VW-powered cars has almost 170 hp). The Estonia-26 (third pic) was produced in a period of hard post-Communist crisis, only five of them were produced. In the fourth and fifth pics, the more recent Estonia cars: the Estonia-26/1 and 26/9. The factory was privatized and it was renamed as "Kavor Motorsport"; it continues the effort in the Scandinavian "Formula-4" championship, against the more famous western car (Dallara and Reynard F3).

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The beautiful car in the four pics above, instead, is produced by the Russian factory "AKKC", and it's called "Russia A20/16". It was launched in the 2000, and it has a Lada-VAZ 1600 cc. engine, modified with an "Alpha" injection system and boosted up to 150 hp; the gearbox is of english production (Hewland), the tyres are Dunlop, the total weight is 455 kg. I don't know why, but the safety cell in the fourth pic, placed on the support, looks me like an old war airplane...

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...but the car in the three pics above, instead, has really aeronautical origins! It's the Mikojan "AM-01", very recent (it was launched in the 2001), and it's realized by the same factory of the legendary "MIG" airplanes (see the brand in the first pic)! This car is destinated to the traditional Russian Formula-1600 Championship: now, it's the only Russian-builted car for this championship (besides the AKKC "Russia A20/16"). Unfortunately, also the Formula 1600 championship is in a hard crisis, because the partecipation is too expensive for the depressed Russian economy. This is a shame: these "russian rockets", although outdated, are still capable of good performances! 

Some pic taken from  www.cartinki.ru , http://sovavto.cjb.net , www.skoda-auto.com , http://www.kavor.ee/index_en.htm , http://amevo.narod.ru/ , http://www.akkc.ru/Monoformula.htm, http://www.juergen-meissner.de , www.autogallery.org.ru 

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