A Russian-built, government owned, four-wheeled microcar for the disabled.
Manufacturer: Serpukhovsji Motornnyi Zavod
Origin: Serpukhov, Russia
Motor: SMZ 1-cyl, 2-stroke
Displacement: 346 cc
Power: 10 hp
Length: 8 ft. 9 in.
Identification No. 076311
The handicapped veterans of the “Great Patriotic War” only received their first motorized transportation seven years after the victory. The SMZ motorcycle works produced an open three-wheeler powered by a 123-cubic centimeter, four horsepower engine, which was later increased to 349 cubic centimeters. A three-wheeler offered the most resistance in snow or mud, having to carve three tracks, and it was not the ideal solution for a veteran’s car.
In 1958, the four-wheeled S-3A model appeared; it was a robust, steel-bodied small car with a convertible roof, two headlamps, and a top speed of 25 mph. The tires were usually of the knobbly tread variety, and the cars could be configured to suit different disabilities.
Distribution was through Russia’s social welfare system in terms of a five-year lease. Being free or at very low cost, they were technically not for sale to non-disabled drivers, but they were subject to a certain amount of cynical rule-bending. Some “motor-wheelchairs” were not returned after the five years, and the owners managed to get them registered as their private property. As a result, they are now rare and have achieved collectible status. In 1970, the S-3A was replaced by the more modern-looking S-3D. This fine example resided in a German museum before joining the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum, and it has been nicely restored in blue with a light blue interior and black top.