Vintage Russian Sports Car – ZIS-101A-Sport


ZIS-101A-Sport Car

In 1939, the Bureau of the pilot plant was developed by VMS it’s own Soviet sports car the ZIS-101A-Sport, which was not only examined, but also approved the country’s leadership – IV Stalin! But, first things first (see picture below).

In 1938, Soviet motor racing despite all the efforts and zeal was in its infancy. Some experimentation  has been done in the production of light aluminum body parts, and special tires capable of speeds of 150 km / h, as well as spark plugs and carburetors other than that mass production didn’t exist.  The production of sports cars were limited to the masters of DIY and sports clubs. The GAZ-GL1 that Eugene Agitova designed at the factory, wasn’t even close to approaching the world class level.

In the same year at the KB pilot plant plant named after Stalin a group of  three young men – Vladimir Kremenetskiy Nicholas Pulmanov and Anatoly Puhalin worked together. The latter was just finishing his diploma work on the Moscow road and wrote a dissertation  on “sports cars”. It was by his invitation that the Young Communists set about trying to create a sports car.


After trying to choose the right gear it was decided to use the latest modification of the modern car – ZIS-101, which had been produced since 1936. This vehicle more than anything else was  a limousine! It was huge – the length of almost 6 meters in length – about 2 meters wide, weighing 2.5 tons! Making a roadster out of this car was just plain crazy. Or otherwise just a youthful idea.

Puhalin created the basic layout, redesigned the suspension on the ZIS-101: In particular it received anti-roll bars, also included was a vacuüm brake booster. The rear axle was fitted with hyoid gears (incidentally, the first in the USSR) was designed by Kremenetskiy, Pulmanov took up the design of the motor . He boosted the engine significantly by 101 percent, increasing speed, compression ratio, and changing the valve timing. They used a Straight inline eight cylinder Engine with  5766 cc. the volume was increased to 6060 cc., the Head block, pistons, connecting rods,  were aluminum, and other crankshaft, camshaft, intake manifold, two carburetors MKZ-A2 without an air filter. The capacity increased by half – from 90 to 141 hp at 3300 rev/min. In the revised gearbox synchronizers appeared conical and overdrive.  The gearbox – standard from the ZIS-101A.

The approach of the car design was fundamentally different from what it had been before. It made a single streamlined body on the chassis of the ZIS-101. It was too easy! Valentine Sprout was hired to paint the automobile.  He was a good designer,  moreover, it was perfectly painted with the right colors. So during a work session sketches of the car were produced , from which he selected the best.

Because the power plant was very long and very hard to improve the balance of the axles and drive-train moved the double cockpit was moved to the far back. In addition the ZIS-101A-Sport had a removable canopy, the air intake was on the bonnet along with the headlights, these were set into the front fairing wings. The base car was a huge la coupe – 3750 mm, length – 5750mm.

It wasn’t just on paper, but it embodied an idea that of the time wasn’t yet possible. Making the foundry models, accessories diagrams dies, tooling, wooden dummy for the body could only be achieved by enthusiastic people, which created a challenge to make it feasible. The authorities were contacted.

They reacted to the request for assistance for the most part unexcited. The quality of the ZIS-101, which it’s increased demands, left much to be desired. The state commission headed by EA Chudakov, visited the then head of the Automotive Department  VAMM Red Army, where he worked for the notorious Nikitin SA, he identified a number of shortcomings (in particular – it was necessary to reduce the weight of the  ZIS-101 a minimum of 600-700 kg), given the necessary recommendations. It was advised the primary thing to do.


It helped, as has often happened in the Soviet era, with the response of another loud anniversary – two decades of wishful thinking. In the long list of gifts from the Mother Motherland plant, along with the above-planned cars, and through the efforts of Kremenets, entered and ZIS-101A-Sport. October 17, 1938, “Komsomolskaya Pravda” published an article “Athletic limo” with a sketch of the sprout. Country of the gift found out about the present talk, it was too late to retreat. How, after all, is perverse fate! Only yesterday, for work on sports cars guys would have been shot as pests, but today – would be shot if the car was not ready in time. Had nowhere to retreat, and December 11, 1938 issued an order Lihechev N11, which was painted in detail the who, what and when should make for a sporty sedan.

Working out the design a sports car for the first time in Soviet history was controlled almost at the highest level. After all, the ZIS-101A-sport depended very much, and it all perfectly understood. The car has no body to run in the plant, eliminated the deficiencies, “childhood diseases” design. Finally, the first exit on the fully assembled, painted, polished car. Behind the wheel sat Pulmanov near – Puhalin. Kremenets watched their creation looks the part. Young Komsomol did not know that they were not only the first but the last car …

And so, the presentation of the car to senior management of the country. Piece of the wall of the Union House, where the show was scheduled for the night was dismantled at the hands have a two-ton car lobby, and before dawn led facade in order. Able to work when you need! The operation led personally VMS Director Ivan Likhachev. In the morning, none of the delegates and guests of the Moscow Party Conference is not passed by the car, not paying attention to him. But the main thing: Stalin himself, but for him and other members of the Politburo, not only visited, but also approved an unusual car.


But the young designers in the first place troubled sea trials. So far managed to develop only 168 km / h, but in test mode and not in the official competition, so the result was not counted. In 1940, the ZIS-101A-Sports at the 43rd kilometer of the Minsk highway dispersed to 162.4 km / h in the same 1940 Open VMS-102 score of 153 km / h. However, the design of 180 km / h were very real.

Prospects for the car were huge, but in 1939 Likhachev appointed People’s Commissar of Medium Machine Building (although in 1940, Stalin was removed from his post and once again became director of the plant, but the Great Patriotic War), and the new director of ZIS-101A-Sport is not needed. Constructors and enthusiastic life, too, parted: Kremenets stayed at the factory, but was engaged in rigging for machining Pulmanov went to graduate school Automotive Institute and Puhalin – in the missile industry. Only shoots continued to work with cars: long labored ZISe (later ZIL), then in U.S., participated in the creation of many postwar already ZISov and ZIL, including sports.

The experience gained in creating the most serious domestic pre-war sports car, able to compete with road “Bentley” and “Mercedes” of those times, the country is almost useful. Only a portion of the post-war ZIS-101A installed aluminum cylinder heads, raising power to 110 hp. with. Design finds V. sprout is also not useful – ZIS-110 was ordered to copy the American model.

The fate of the VMS-101A-Sport is not known. According to some sources he is rotten at the back of the factory, but other … others maintain that the dark-green roadster someone somewhere saw in the 1960s. However, the first statement is more real – this was the fate of most domestic counterparts.


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