Where you could study a Mercedes 300 SL, a BMW 502, the latest models from Studebaker, Plymouth but also an AWZ P70 together in 1956? The interesting answer is: in Moscow!
The Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute, abbreviated as NAMI (Russian: Государственный научный центр Российской Федерации Федеральное государственное унитарное предприятие “Центра́льный нау́чно-иссле́довательский автомоби́льный и автомото́рный институ́т “НАМИ” (ГНЦ РФ ФГУП “НАМИ”) is the leading scientific organisation in Russian Federation in the field of automotive industry development. It can trace its origins back to the 1930s when the Automobile and Tractor Research Institution (NATI) was set up.
Before the war, a full garage of foreign cars was kept by NATI, exotic American cars were studied at GAZ and ZIS. In the most difficult war years at the ZIS plant in Moscow, they studied huge Packard, Lincoln, Cadillac, analogues of the future ZIS-110. At GAZ, while developing the Pobeda, they studied a full-scale Opel Kapitan model.
Still, what NAMI did in 1956 was quite unprecedented. Between May and August (maybe October) they hosted an exhibition of cars in Moscow – not just for auto industry experts, but for the general public as well.
From Hillman to AWZ, from Plymouth to Panhard, from the Volkswagen Beetle to the Fiat 600 there were all sort of cars from all over the world. The aim was to show how the Soviet auto industry compares to offerings from other markets. Naturally there was no question form at the exit…
You can see some of the cars in the picture gallery, but a more complete report is available on Kolesa.ru which broke the story in 2018.