After 1945 American Cars Ruled in Hungary

When you think about post-war Hungary, you think about Communism, the Iron Curtain and Soviet cars. While that is generally true, we should not forget that American cars have also been around.

This picture was taken in 1947 at a depot in Budapest. Photo is from the archives of MTI, the Hungarian news agency

In the 1920s American cars and especially trucks were leading the sales charts in Hungary. While the situation changed in the 1930s, right after the second world war in the vehicle-starving times, due to leftover vehicles of the American army, the American cars made a comeback.

In 1946 America provided a USD 15 million loan with favorable conditions to Hungary. Steam locomotives, chocolate, clothes and all kinds of other goods have been delivered. And also cars, trucks and jeeps.

An ex-Army American truck in Hungary in the 1950s (Photo is from the Hungarian Museum of Technology and Transportation)

Hundreds of these vehicles were brought to Hungary in 1946-1947. Autocar, Federal and Diamond trucks have been used by various factories, the Hungarian army and other entities up until the late 1950s because there was no other lorry around with such pulling power.

An ex-government Chevrolet in the early 1960s (Photo: Fortepan/Gyula Nagy)

From 1949 Mátyás Rákosi, a Stalinist leader was the prime minister of Hungary. And he loved Cadillacs. He had around four of those, equipped with armoured plating. Soviet cars (ZIM and later Tschaika) was distributed among “mediocre” party officials and leaders of government-owned companies, but the “good comrades” had Buick and Chevrolet cars at their disposal.

Photo: Fortepan

From 1950 to 1958 private car ownership was banned in Hungary. In 1960 there were just 31000 passenger cars registered in Hungary. Out of that there were around 200 Chevrolets – half of those used by the government.

The Chevrolet Corvette was shown at the 1969 Budapest International Fair (Photo: Fortepan/Zsolt Pálinkás)
One of the few Chrysler Windsor models which ended up in Hungary (Photo: Fortepan)

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