H. Ford signs agreement with Soviet Union for producing cars at GAZ factory
After signing the contract for technical assistance in building the Nizhnii Novgorod (Gorky) Automobile Plant. Dearborn, Mich., May 31, 1929.
On May 31, 1929, in Dearborn, Michigan, in his capacity as vice-chairman of VSNKh, Mezhlauk, together with President of Amtorg, Saul Bron, signed the agreement with H. Ford and the Ford Motor Company for assistance in building the first Soviet automobile plant (GAZ) near Nizhnii Novgorod (Gorky).
GAZ or Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (Russian: ГАЗ or Го́рьковский автомоби́льный заво́д, lit. 'Gorky Automobile Plant') is a Russian automotive manufacturer located in Nizhny Novgorod (a city named Gorky 1932-1990). It is the core subsidiary of GAZ Group Holding, itself part of the Basic Element business group. JSC Russian Machines Corporation is the controlling shareholder in OAO GAZ.
In May 1929 the Soviet Union signed an agreement with the American Ford Motor Company. Under its terms, the Soviets agreed to purchase $13 million worth of automobiles and parts, while Ford agreed to give technical assistance until 1938 to construct an integrated automobile-manufacturing plant at Nizhny Novgorod. Production started on 1 January 1932, and the factory and the first marque was titled Nizhegorodsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or NAZ, but also displayed the "Ford" sign. Its first vehicle was the medium-priced Ford Model A, sold as the NAZ-A, and a light truck, the Ford Model AA (NAZ-AA). NAZ-A production commenced in 1932 and lasted until 1936, during which time over 100,000 examples were built.
In 1933, the factory's name changed to Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or GAZ, when the city was renamed after Maxim Gorky; similarly, models were renamed GAZ-A and GAZ-AA. From 1935 to 1956, the official name was augmented with imeni Molotova (literally, named after Molotov).
The GAZ-A was succeeded by the more modern GAZ-M1 (based largely on the four-cylinder version of the Ford Model B), produced from 1936 to 1942. The M letter stands for Molotovets ('of Molotov's fame'), it was the origin of the car's nickname, M'ka (Эмка).
During the war, GAZ assembled Chevrolet G7107 and G7117 (G7107 with winch) from parts shipped from the USA under Lend Lease.
Experience with the A and the M1 allowed the GAZ engineers to develop their own car model independently of Ford. Called the GAZ-11, this more upscale model entered production in 1942 and remained in limited wartime production until 1946. The M2's bodyshell entered limited production in 1941, mounted on a four-wheel drive chassis and sold in small quantities as the GAZ-61.