So bad, it's good!
After recommissioning the car:
Fuel pump failed.
Ignition distributor worn out.
Windscreen wiper motor failed.
I really do like this car. I renovated it after it had stood in a garden in London for many years. After a few early failures (see above) it has been 100% reliable. Reliably awful, sometimes, but always reliable.
Best mods were to rebuild the distributor using Volkswagen electronic ignition and to rebuild the carburettor.
It is important to stress that a special driving licence is required for the Moskvich. Will the brakes pull left or right, or stop in a straight line? It is important to keep a grip of the wheel when braking...
The carburettor requires special nursing through a huge flat spot until the engine has warmed up, but the straight line acceleration was enough to burn off a Ford XR2 one night - to the considerable surprise of its occupants...
The engine is pretty good, as the Russians took a BMW slant 4 and directly copied it, more or less. They did convert it to all-alloy construction along the way, however, so that the finished car weighs in at marginally less than a T34 tank.
There's no rust in the car and I treated it to a two-tone paint job with chrome trim, so that it actually looks quite elegant. Sad examples in Moscow tend to look like rusty rabbit hutches on wheels...
It is a good load lugger and the seats are comfortable. The heater, meanwhile, is hot enough to power a small crematorium. The only downside of the interior is the plastics; these are largely celluloid based and progressively collapse when exposed to British damp weather. I have taken to driving in gloves after getting splinters off the steering wheel last week...
Safety was not an issue when the Mosky was designed - in those days, it was your fault if you crashed - and short of installing a large spike in the centre of the steering wheel it is hard to imagine how the fittings and fixtures could be made more dangerous. My particular favourite is a cast aluminium handbrake pull with a sharp end which lives in close proximity to the driver's kneecap.
However, the bodyshell is strong, so after the police have scraped you off the dashboard and put you in a bag, the car can go on to many happy years with a new owner...
In summary, a smart, reliable car with many "character features". It attracts attention, is much admired (mainly by those who have never driven it) and whilst on the road, there is never a dull moment. Just try not to crash...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th March, 2006