The Volga GAZ-24 (also pronounced Volha, Wolga) is an automobile manufactured by the Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ, Gorky Automobile Plant) from 1968 to 1985 as a generation of its Volga marque. A largely redesigned version (practically, a new car in modified old body) - GAZ-24-10 - was produced from 1985 to 1992. It was sold as the Scaldia-Volga M24 and M24D in the Western European market
1967-6Development of GAZ-24 (then called M-24) finished in 1966 when several prototypes were built. Volga GAZ-24 was introduced in 1967. However, only 31 units were built in 1968, primarily for road tests, with another 215 units built in 1969. 1968/69-built Volgas are often called "pre-serial" because full-scale manufacturing started only in 1970 (18,486 units built). Distinctive feature of the very first several prototypes were two outside rearview mirrors fixed on front fenders. Most of the pre-serial and all serial cars got one mirror placed on front left door .
GAZ-24 was developed to replace outdated Volga GAZ-21 developed in 1950s. New Volga had a longer wheelbase (2800 mm) then the GAZ-21 (2700 mm), but slightly shorter overall length (4735 mm compared to 4810) and was substantially lower (1490 mm compared to 1620). Width remained untouched. Long wheelbase, boxier styling, bucket seats with lower bases and flat roof made the new Volga generously sized inside, with comfortable 5...6-passenger seating. The car was designed to last for years in severe road conditions, and its reinforced unibody construction gave the Volga extra weight if compared to foreign analogs.
Standard engine was aluminium 2445 cc inline-four, OHV, high-compression ZMZ-24D producing 95 hp@4500 rpm [106,5 SAE hp] with one 2bbl carburetor. Only 4-speed manual transmission with floor-mounted shifter was offered.
GAZ-21 trim lines ("standard" and "improved") were dropped, all GAZ-24 Volgas had similar trim. No specific options or extras were listed, but standard equipment included self-adjusting power drum brakes with front/rear split brake system, 3-wave radio with power antenna, interior safety padding, central armrests (both front and rear), alternator, 3-speed windshield wiper and foot-operated windshield washer, heater with defroster, rear window defogger, electric clock, trunk and engine compartment lights. Early cars had "ribbon" speedometer, with gauge that filled up with red, thermometer fashion. Interior was available in 3 different colours - red, brown or light gray, it was not color-coded. Dashboard was made of aluminium and painted in exterior color, upper part was covered with safety padding and black vinyl.
Volga's styling was rather conventional and surely American inspired. Some features were thematically quite similar to those on GAZ-21 such as vertical tail lights, so called "baleen plates" grille, tiny fins on rear fenders. One of the most recognizable feature of GAZ-24 Volga sedan styling are chromed rhombic vents on C-pillar . Among another distinctive features can be mentioned dashboard handles with "ivory" plastic inserts, two chromed "fangs" under front bumper, large two spoke steering wheel and large chromed parking brake handle placed under the dashboard in the right.
In 1970 full-scale manufacturing started. During 1970-74 the Volga remained almost unchanged. Only minor modifications took place in 1972...73, when the car got new trunk decklid lock, flat ashtrays in rear doors instead of early ashtrays that were built in rear doors armrests, new rear bumper and new radio with more pleasant appearance and modified construction. In 1973 dashboard with simulated wood insert appeared (also there was a "silver" grained finish that was used until 1974). After 1973 ignition switch was moved from the dashboard to the place under the steering wheel to prevent knee injure in road accidents, although that was inconvenient for the driver. Also in 1974 Volga got additional parking lights on C-pillar.
Volga cars were almost the only taxi cabs in the USSR. In 1971 taxi version of GAZ-24 - GAZ-24-01 - was introduced. It had cheap and easy-to-wash all-vinyl interior, low compression ZMZ-24-01 engine (85 hp, SAE 95 hp), taximeter under the dash and distinctive checkerboard stripe on front doors. At first Volga taxicabs were painted in different light colors, later most taxicabs were painted in lime-yellow. Volga GAZ-24 is still famous for fantastic roadworthiness and durability. Volga taxicabs often have more than 1,000,000 km on their odometers and had several engine rebuilds. Taxicab drivers nicknamed GAZ-24 sedan "The Shrimp" due to its slim (if compare to GAZ-21 that was nicknamed "The Holy Cow") appearance and two "fangs" under front bumper that resembled shrimp's claws. Wagon taxicabs GAZ-24-04 (station wagons were used as cargo taxies) were nicknamed "The Shed" due to vast interior space.
Station wagon and ambulance
In 1972 4-door station wagon GAZ-24-02 was introduced. However, Volga wagons were not sold to private owners without special permit. For example, families with many children or sportsmen who had to carry heavy sport equipment (like parachutes) were allowed to purchase a Volga wagon. Famous clown and actor Yuri Nikulin was permitted to own GAZ-24-02 wagon because he often transported heavy circus equipment. This restrictions came from small volume of GAZ-24-02 production. Wagons were primarily used by hospitals (as ambulances), state-owned shops and taxi companies, Militsiya, GAI, post offices and other state enterprises.
GAZ-24-02 had generous interior area with 3 rows of seats and 7...8-passenger seating. Area behind the front seat could be converted into spacious one-level cargo compartment. 24-02 had heavy-duty rear leaf springs (six leaves as opposed to the sedan's five) and could carry up to 400 kg (800 lbs) of cargo.
GAZ-24-04 was a taxicab breed of Volga station wagon with distinctive features similar to sedan taxicab.
Ambulance modification GAZ-24-03 was introduced in 1973.
The GAZ never built GAZ-24 convertibles . All convertibles were produced by military plant in the city of Bronnitsa. They were used for military parades.
Volga-based pickup trucks were built by different car repairing plants all over the country. Exteriors differed.
In 1973-74 five AWD Volgas GAZ-24-95 were built. Some disadvantages were discovered during the tests and this modification remained experimental.
In 1975 the car was slightly modified. It got another, more conventional speedometer, more convenient outside rearview mirror . Engine cooling system was modified to use antifreeze instead of water.
From late 1974 V8 powered version was produced in small numbers. It had aluminium 5530 cc, OHV, 195 hp (145 kW) V8, 3-speed automatic transmission and power steering. This version was designated GAZ-24-24. Also this modification is sometimes designated as "device 2424", also it was nicknamed "The Double" and "Chaser" (Russian: догонялка, dogonyalka). "Device 2424" was used by the KGB as interceptor and security car. The main task for "2424" was to accompany governmental Chayka and ZIL limos.
In 1976-78 the car was completely refreshed. To improve the safety, bumperguards, yellow front fog lamps , secondary turning signals on front fenders and seat belts (both front and rear) became standard equipment. The car got modified interior. New dashboard consisted of aluminium body and two pieces of soft polyurethane foam padding. Upper door panels had the same construction. Lower door panels were completely different from the previous version. Seats got more convenient vinyl-and-cloth upholstery with cloth seat cushion. Due to installation of seatbelts front central armrest was eliminated. New interior was available in red, brown, yellow, lime green, dark green, dark blue, or black. Interior trim became non-reflective.
For the 1980 Summer Olympics a special fleet of Volga sedans and station wagons was built with special two-tone white and yellow paint. They accompanied the Olympic Torch. The color scheme was chosen by the local Moscow organizers, not the IOC- that year's Winter Games fleet was light blue (Ford products).
From 1985 to 1992 GAZ produced an improved version, simplified for large scale manufacturing - GAZ-24-10. This car was GAZ-24 body with improved 98 hp (73 kW) engine, revised mechanicals, heavily modified interior and many exterior differences (different headlights, streamlined door handles , ventless front doors, bumpers without bumper guards, plastic grille, plastic "aerodynamic" wheel covers, fewer bright metal parts, and so on). Also GAZ-24-12 station wagon, GAZ-24-11 taxicab and other versions were produced.
RAF-2203 "Latvija" van by Rīgas Autobusu Fabrika (in production 1976-97) was based on drivetrain and suspensions of GAZ-24 Volga.
GAZ-3102 Volga (produced since 1982) and almost all later GAZ passenger cars (31029, 3110, 31105) use central body shell of GAZ-24.
GAZ-24 Volga was exported to many countries from Indonesia and Latin America to Western Europe. Right-hand-drive export version also existed. In Europe one of the most popular Volgas were cars, both sedans and wagons, assembled in Belgium by Scaldia-Volga . These cars were equipped with Peugeot Indenor diesel engine. Those models were signed M24D and M24DB (Break - wagon). Standard Volgas with Soviet gas engines were sold as M24 and M24B (Break). Cars that were sold in Europe often had such features as metallic paint, simulated vinyl roof, leather interior and other luxuries. Station wagons sometimes had simulated "wood" decoration and often - rear window wiper and heater . This features were mostly installed by European GAZ dealers.