Soviet Streamlined Racing Cars of the 1950s

Engineers behind the Iron Curtain were just as creative as their peers in Western Europe. Dmitriy Dashko recalls the line of streamlined racing cars built in the Soviet Union after 1945.

(This is an excerpt from Dmitriy’s 6-page article in the first issue of our new magazine, Rare & Unique Vehicles. Please check for further details and subscription options!)

… In 1951 three more speed record cars from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov were announced and devoted exclusively to break speed records. Members of a local car club created these three interesting cars, the Kharkov-3, the Kharkov-L1, and the Avangard independently. Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union, and Kharkov was one of the largest engineering centers in the entire country. The local school of casting and metalworking made it possible to create highly complex metal parts of the highest quality, including, completely non-standard automobile engines. The local aviation industry helped enthusiasts with aerodynamic solutions for the bodywork. These three cars were in stark contrast to all Soviet record-breaking racing cars created earlier. They all had a mid-engine layout, instead of a front-mounted engine, a platform frame chassis and elongated, streamlined bodies.

Ivan Pomogaybo also followed a similar path when he built his Avangard record car at the plant where he worked as a shop manager. The streamlined body and mid-engine layout were also combined with extensive use of parts from the Pobeda car. However, Pomogaybo used a 6-cylinder engine from a 2.5ton GAZ truck. Although the Avangard secured its status as the fastest car in the USSR in the 3-liter class, it was not as fast as the aforementioned cars. The design was a mid-engined layout with the power unit located behind the driver’s seat, in front of the rear axle, and connected to the main gear by a driveshaft. The body was made of sheet steel. The car was constantly modernized: the wheelbase was lengthened, the body panels of a modified shape were made of thinner metal, a new completely overhead-valve cylinder head and a more advanced blade-type supercharger were installed on the engine, an additional gearbox was integrated into the main gear and so on. Engine power has been increased to 220 hp. The Avangard reached its zenith in 1955 with a top speed of 257.6 km / h.

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