Comrades, if you think the Jeep started the SUV craze, you’re wrong. It was in fact the glorious people’s GAZ M-72. While the Jeep was indeed a popular 4WD vehicle, it wasn’t until the Grand Wagoneer came around in 1963 that the United States fully embraced the full-on SUV bodystyle. But in this particular arms race, we were behind the Ruskies, who’d created this trucklet behind the iron curtain by stripping down a GAZ “Pobeda” (“Victory”) car shell, and grafting it onto a GAZ-69 military 4WD truck chassis.
It was harder than Soviet resistance in the siege of Stalingrad, seeing as how the Pobeda was a monocoque and the 69 was a body-on-frame truck, but those resourceful Soviet engineers managed to strengthen the unibody to accept the mechanicals in only 3 days. Best of all, the revised piroshky-shaped bodywork was designed by Al Gore! And you thought he only invented the internet! We kid … the name’s just a coincidence. And the former Vice President couldn’t have possibly designed such a manly, proletariat-inspiring car.
Under the hood was a high-compression version of the M-72’s engine, producing 55 HP (which was plenty, because if you wanted more you betrayed your bourgeois sympathies and were hauled off to the gulag). Between 1955 and 1957, 4,677 of these were produced, and can be thought of as the great-grandaddy of the equally awesome Lada Niva. Hopefully this has dispelled some of your corrupt capitalist warmongering revisionist history on the subject of SUVs, the proud invention of the Motherland!