1989 Moskvitch 21412 1.5 petrol


Ignition distributor would fail every now and then.

Front suspension components needed frequent replacement, mostly due to bad roads.

Half-shaft boots.

Wheel bearings, also due to bad roads.

Fuel pump membranes replaced regularly.

Engine radiator developed a leak after about 15 years.

Head gasket blown, overheating generally an issue due to the placement of the engine radiator.

Crankshaft bearings melted due to blocked oil passage; a common fault on high-milers with the 1.5 engine.

Clutch replaced at about 100k km.

General Comments:


Woeful. The 1.5 litre carburetted engine with 72 hp was fine in the 60s, but was outclassed by virtually anything else in the 90s. Top speed about 140 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 17-18s. Fuel consumption about 9 l/100km. The handling is marred by a very soft suspension and understeer, and at high speeds the steering would lighten up to the point of scariness. At low speeds, pretty relaxing, actually.


Spacious, relatively comfortable and comparatively easy to drive for a Russian car of the era. No power steering, of course, but a large steering wheel.

The ergonomics on the driver's side are also decent, better even than some modern cars I have driven. Minus points for the fixed steering wheel and the control switches that are placed in weird places. Getting 5th gear in involves pressing the gear lever against the passenger seat. Standard equipment includes a roof, side mirrors adjustable from the inside, a rear-view mirror with night mode, manual windows and heating. The many plastic panel rattles are usually not audible due to the ample amounts of engine noise.


Five doors and a rear hatch allow for larger pieces of equipment to be transported, like a bicycle, a pig or 30 sacks of grain. The high loading sill is a nuisance though. Cabin storage is minimal.


Well, if maintained lovingly and regularly serviced, should generally start in the morning. Repairs can all be done with hand tools in field conditions. The engine compartment has plenty of space, yet they could not fit the radiator in front of the engine because of the longitudinal engine layout and had to mount it on the side. This leads to overheating problems in warmer climates. Other than that, wear and tear normal for a soviet car in post-soviet road conditions.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th February, 2019

10th Feb 2019, 03:54

Nicely written, interesting analysis of Moskvitch ownership.