GAZ or Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, Nizhny Novgorod, translated as Gorky Automobile Plant started in 1929 as NNAZ, a cooperation between Ford and the Soviet Union. The name changed when when the city was renamed after Maxim Gorky. From 1935 to 1956, the official name was augmented with imeni Molotova (literally, in/by the name of Molotov).
Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ) is Russia's largest producer of commercial vehicles of 2.8 to 8.2 GVW. GAZ's share of the Russian commercial vehicle market exceeds 50 percent. GAZ operates the largest brand distribution and service network in Russia in terms of sales and commercial vehicle servicing. It comprises 260 dealerships, as well as 240 service stations in Russia and the CIS. Gorky Automobile Plant is the main production asset of GAZ Group.
GAZ Group is one of the largest automotive holding companies in Russia. It has 18 production plants in 10 regions of Russia. GAZ Group produces light commercial vehicles, heavy trucks, buses, cars, road construction equipment, powertrains and auto components. GAZ Group’s headquarters are in Nizhny Novgorod. Russian Machines Engineering Holding is the core shareholder in the company.
The factory's first model was the medium-priced Ford Model A, sold as NAZ A at first, and Ford Model AA under GAZ AA marque. "A" production commenced in 1932 and lasted until 1936, during which time over 100,000 examples were built.
The A was succeeded by the more modern GAZ M1 (based largely on the Ford V8), produced from 1936-1942. The M letter stands for Molotovets ("of Molotov's fame"), it was the origin of the car's nickname, Emka
Experience with the A and the M1 allowed the GAZ engineers to develop their own car model independently of Ford. Called the GAZ M2, 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 (quite possibly the world's first all-wheel drive passenger car).
During the war years, GAZ engineers worked to develop an all-new car model to enter production once hostilities ended. Called the GAZ-M20 Pobeda (Victory), this affordably-priced sedan with streamlined, fastback styling, entered production in 1946 and was produced by GAZ until 1958. (Licensed production continued in Polish FSO until the 1970's). GAZ-72, a four wheel drive version, was produced in low volume.
GAZ also made GAZ-12 ZIM, GAZ-21 and GAZ-24 Volga and the luxury cars GAZ-13 and GAZ-14 Chaika. GAZ also makes trucks and 4x4s such as the GAZel and the famous GAZ-69.
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