Vintage Russian Race Cars – GAZ-A-Sport

tumblr_md6319itJX1r3sn0vo1_1280Serial GAS-A-Sport design, AI Girelya. 1937


The sports cars of the time came from production models that were put together by amateur athletes in a makeshift manner built from their own hands.  When preparing vehicles for competition they would build a streamlined body over the GAZ-A or GAZ-M1 platform. Then moderate adjustments of the engine, carburetors, and shortening the exhaust pipes took place.

It would be 57-year-old driver from Soviet Leningrad, Anton Girel who would build his sports car in the same way. He chose the “people’s” car  that was produced from 1932 to 1936, the commercially produced GAS-A. He wound up lengthening the  car’s base by 300 mm. This produced a streamlined body with no protruding parts (fenders, headlights, etc.), reducing the car’s weight to 950 kg. At the tail of the car wearing the keel, similar to what was to record “Blue Bird” by Malcolm Campbell, almost daily of new speed records.

Blue-Bird_2803408bSir Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird

The  GAZ-A engine was hopelessly outdated and prospects for increasing the power were almost non-existent. and Anton Girel immediately dismissed putting a in-line four-cylinder power plant GAZ-M1 into his car. He also didn’t chose the Ford-BB engine copy ,as it wasn’t his first choice . He decided to leave the engine size the same (3282 cc.). The mechanic increased the compression ratio up to 5.5 units, installed two carburetors and direct flow exhaust system – four short exhaust pipes, raising engine output to 55 hp at 2800 rev/min. It seems ridiculous when you consider that Europe had  existing vehicles that rated at more than 100 hp.  But for a handicraft assembled motor it gave excellent results! True, it becomes bittersweet when we remember that the same power engine had a Russo-Balt S24/55, the one that won the rally in Monaco in 1912.

During the trials in July 1937, the GAZ-A-Sport with a three-stage gearbox and a smaller gear ratio showed the rate of 127.6 km/h. The top speed record in Tsarist Russia at the time was about 112.5 km/h.

On the 30th of September 1937 on Zhytomyr highway near Kiev four Russian domestic super-cars met. The GAS-A Girelya, GAZ-TSAKS Tsypulina, GAS-A Zharov, and GAZ-A Kleshchev. The heroic pilots spoke out, “cheers” went up and then the race started.  The results being a USSR race record kilometer run was born. The GAS-A-Sport Girelya accomplished a speed of 129 km/h, the record wouldn’t be broken for another 24 years.


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