Plastic bodied hybrid vehicles from the Soviet Union

Though Multicar was the best-known small pickup truck, which was produced behind the Iron Curtain there were other attempts as well. One of the most interesting came from Estonia, courtesy of Roman Bertelov

Roman Bertelov, who died a few weeks ago, at the age of 84 was a Soviet or to be more precise, an Estonian automotive engineer. He came to prominence in 1962, when he designed the Estonia-5, a Formula Jr racecar. It was powered by a Wartburg-engine and it stood its ground against its East German competitors, winning many international championships. Bertelov later worked at the automobile department of ETKVL (Association of Consumer Co-operative Societies of Estonia).

The ETKVL owned various department stores, groceries etc. Goods were usually hauled with trusty Soviet GAZ trucks. However Bertelov saw the need for a smaller vehicle. So he put together a proposal for a snmall pickup truck which could carry just 600 kg, while the GAZ had a permissable load of 2.5 tons. The end result, called the ET-600 featured a ZAZ Zaporoshetz engine and a plastic cabin. It received official approval and praise from NAMI, the Soviet Automobile Research Institute.
ETKVL assembled 30 such trucks between 1967-1969.

In the meantime Bertelov was working on a new project. It was again based on the trusty ZAZ Zaporoshetz, but this time the petrol engine was assisted by an electric engine. The end result, called ET-800 was a sleek minivan with plastic body. Unfortunately the batteries were not up to standard and the car failed at its official test in Moscow.

Bertelov was forced to stop its experiments and the planned serial production of the ET-600 never materialised.

Today an ET-600 is proudly sitting in the collection of the Estonia Road Museum

Photographs are courtesy of Tonu Ojala, Tehnikamaailm magazine, Fotis

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