Balkan 1200 – the first Bulgarian car

A former airplane factory in Lovech, which went on to assemble Fiat and Moskvitch cars and produce motorcycles, developed a Bulgarian people’s car in the 1950s. The prototype still resides at the Balkan Museum in Lovech, Bulgaria

After World War II, “Factory No14” in Lovech remained the only local plant that produced aircraft. A lot of aviation engineers were trained at the Sofia Polytechnic University until 1954, when production was terminated at the plant.

In the mid-1950s the Lovech plant was transformed and launched production of motorcycles. Dimitar Damyanov, one of the young engineers who faced a lot of challenges in the new situation came up with the idea of producing a national car at the factory.

Factory No14, which has been renamed to the Balkan factory used a Volkswagen chassis and engine for the prototype. The engine was copied by “Factory 12” in Sofia, which also produced the engines for the Balkan motorcycles.

Damyanov and his team formed the sheet-metal of the body entirely by hand, using wooden hammers on leather bags filled with sand. Keeping everythng symmetrical proved to be difficult. A 1:1 scale drawing was used to make the wooden bucks.
Along the way several 1:10 scale models have been created for various details of the car, which was completed in 1960-1961. After initial testing, production plans were cancelled.
Later Balkan assembled Moskvitch and Fiat cars.


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