It was 1986. The AZLK plant churned out Muscovites that were outdated for ten years already, and had just mastered the production of the rather damp 41st. Meanwhile, in his design department, work was in full swing on real cars of the future – the progressive minivan “Arbat”, the futuristic “Yauza”, the promising minibus “Tonic”. And of course “Istroy” – a project into which all the coolest gadgets invented at that time were crammed.
Istra under the factory index of 2144 was developed within the framework of the “Car 2000” competition, in an experimental bureau under the leadership of Alexander Kulikov. In the competition, in addition to AZLK, then many manufacturers from all over the world were lit up: the same Volkswagen or Ford also presented their options for the car of the future. But even against their background, our project impressed with its technical bells and whistles.
The body of the car was made of duralumin alloy, which made it possible to achieve very low weight. There was no central pillar, and two huge doors opened like on a sports car – lifting up. The length of the doors was chosen so that the passengers in the rear seats would not have to recline the front ones.
Under the hood of Istra is an innovative even by today’s standards Elsbert engine powered by biodiesel from rapeseed oil. The design provided for air suspension, as on the top Citroens – the driver could adjust the clearance in the range from 140 to 240 mm.
A whole galaxy of Soviet research institutes and NGOs took part in the development of the model. They developed air conditioning for the car, a unique automatic transmission – an electronically controlled variator, an ABS system, airbags and belt pretensioners. Not bad for the late 80s, huh?
Another feature of the car was a night vision device: the scanner showed silhouettes of cars and people at night. Instrument readings could be displayed on the windshield (on serial cars such “bells and whistles” appeared only after 20 years). Istra was also equipped with an on-board computer with a self-diagnosis system. He prompted the driver about the presence of malfunctions and even gave information on how to fix them.
If the Soviet Union had existed for another ten years, perhaps AZLK 2144 would have seen the light of day. But the 90s came, and the plant was not up to promising developments. The Istra project was finally closed in 1993. The only running model of the model was transferred to the museum, where it stands alone to this day.
See also: It never became like this: the project of the updated IZH-2126 from i-Design