Zavod imeni Likhacheva, more commonly called ZIL - Likhachev Factory, literally "Factory named after Likhachev") is a major Russian truck and heavy equipment manufacturer, which also produced armored cars for most Soviet leaders, as well as buses, armored fighting vehicles, and aerosans. The company also produces hand-built limousines and high-end luxury sedans in extremely low quantities, primarily for the Russian government. ZIL passenger cars are priced at the equivalent of models from Maybach and Rolls-Royce, but are largely unknown outside the CIS and production rarely exceeds a dozen cars per year.
The factory was founded in 1916 as Avtomobilnoe Moskovskoe Obshchestvo - Moscow Automotive Enterprise. The plans were to produce Fiat F-15 1½ ton trucks under license. Because of the October Revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War it took until 1 November 1924 to produce the first vehicle, the AMO-F-15. In 1931 the factory was re-equipped and expanded with the help of the U.S. A.J. Brandt Co., changed its name to Automotive Factory No. 2 Zavod Imeni Stalina (ZIS or ZiS). After Nikita Khrushchev denounced the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin in 1956, the name was changed again to Zavod Imeni Likhacheva, after its former director Ivan Alekseevich Likhachev.
1959 - 1988
THE FIRST handful of Soviet luxury cars were assembled in Leningrad in 1933. The boxy, seven-seater saloon, called the "L-1", was based on he 1931 American Buick 90. In fact all Russian luxury car manufacture, from inception until 1941 (when the production of passenger cars was temporarily halted), was based on variations of John Dolza's straight-eight Buicks. The power unit was 5,650 c.c., ohv, with cast iron pistons, a Downdraught Marvel carburettor, a compression ratio of 4.4-to-1 and a claimed 105 bhp. More>>