The cars : Moskvich 2141 Aleko, the Soviet Alpine

Look closely at the Moskvich Aleko and you will see something of a passing resemblance between it and the Chrysler Alpine

That’s more than intentional…

Aleko: full of Eastern promise

The Aleko (as it was known in Europe) looked remarkably similar to the 1510/Alpine, although the flanks look much more solid than the original, thanks to the loss of its sharp swage lines. (Picture: ‘East European Cars’, by Julian Nowill)

First shown in Europe at the 1988 Paris Salon, the Moskvich Aleko was seen as a huge advancement over its predecessor and, along with the Lada Samara, it heralded the Russia car industry’s arrival into the 1980s. However, many factions in the press commented on its similarity with the Talbot 1510, and wondered if the car was the result of a collaborative effort between the two companies. PSA stated firmly that there were no links between the companies, and that the resemblance was purely coincidental.

The styling link between the two was put down to Eastern European plagiarism. There has since been considerable retrospective speculation that perhaps Chrysler and Moskvich discussed plans, although no evidence has yet surfaced which would corroborate this theory. In fact, when asked about the Moskvich Aleko, and whether it was linked to the Alpine in any way, Roy Axe said a firm, ‘no’. Officially, at least…

What is known is that Moskvich bought a number of Alpines when it started developing the Aleko…

The Aleko was imported into some European markets, and occupied the budget end of the market where East European products traditionally resided. Production continued into the 21st century although Moskvich endured some tough times in the late 1990s. Many Alekos were left to languish in compounds, half-built, due to a shortage of money with which to pay suppliers. Later models, ironically, offered the option of Renault engines!

Moskvich starts adapting the Alpine…

With thanks to Andy Thompson for additional information

Keith Adams


  1. Is it the same size as an Alpine? The proportions look a little smaller, closer to Samara sized.

    Front is very Renault 18.

  2. It might look like an Alpine but the underpinnings draw more from the Audi 100 with an, albeit existing Moskovich, longitudinal engine & similar suspension set up to the German car.

    Moskovich engineers were frustrated by the powers that be’s decision to copy the Alpine’s body since they had designed mock ups themselves but the “Alpine” was the cheaper option to implement.

  3. Not surprising they copied it as it was COtY in 1976. (A bit out of date by 1988, though…)

    A bit VAG about those wheels (although they’re also a copy of the Alpine’s), and definitely something of early eighties Renault about the front-end styling.

  4. I would love to know the devlopment time of these – in the ex Trabant factory, the adjoing museum has many what if’s, and they have huge conception/stagnation times. Did PSA intend to flog the tooling off Iran Khodro/Peugeot Nigera style?

    Or could the Talbot badge have been worn on eastern block assembled Alpines is the big question, creating a budget PSA brand?

  5. Interesting… yes, its profile is similar to the Alpine and the grille & headlamps also to the later facelift Alpine’s. Overall though I still prefer the genuine Chrysler Alpine.

  6. I spent a couple of weeks in Russia last year and saw a couple of these. They look so similar in both style and size that I was utterly convinced that it was the result of a Fiat/Lada type sale of an old design to the Eastern Bloc. Odd car to copy – it was hardly a world beater as an Alpine, was it?

  7. @Andrew Elphick

    There have been rumours and speculation that Talbot will make a comeback on a budget PSA range to compete with Dacia, Skoda, and the new Nissan ‘Datsun’ range.

    Would make sense to badge the old 206 a that is built with 207-style facelift as a Talbot.

    Biggest obstacle to EU sales would be the Euro-emissions targets and crash tests.

  8. @Will M… Do you mean Nissan are re-introducing the Datsun brand? Oh goody! My first ever brand new car was a Datsun Cherry hatch. My Dad later owned an ’85 Sunny Coupe which carried Nissan badging overall, but with a small Datsun name on the tailgate.

  9. If you go to the autosoviet website you will see that they had built prototypes in the 1970’s which had a similar profile, and according to this site it was the communist party who pushed for the car to be a copy of the Alpine.

  10. Thanks Will… I took a look at that autoexpress link – interesting possible developments for Nissan/Datsun. I recall the original Datsun logo was the same style as the Nissan one, just different name.

    As you say, we’ll always remember Datsun for 70’s cars like the Cherry, Sunny, Violet, Bluebird, 240Z etc

  11. @ daveh – I took a look at the autosoviet website – I’m really going to enjoy it – one thing tickled me though, there is a pic on the Aleko page with a guy in the driver’s seat who looks suspiciously like either an Eastern Bloc hit-man, or Borat!!

  12. It seems to have been a minor symbol of the overall decline of the Soviet system, from the early days of the 20`s when Lenin encouraged the combining of technology and creativity in all its forms with futuristic engineering and design concepts that still have the power to shock today, only for civil society (from whence the creativity sprang), to wilt and die under Stalin`s totalitarian hand, leaving Soviet designers with only space / aeronautics as their stronghold, (and that preoccupied with obvious military usages). As for everyone else-a reheated Alpine would have to do. A small footnote to the last century`s saddest story.

  13. From wiki:

    The car originated as a front-wheel drive “proof of concept”, based on foreign models. In the late 1970s Moskvitch bought about two dozen compact cars built by different manufacturers, and thoroughly tested them. French and Swedish cars were favored for their utility and reliability. The final decision was made by the Minister of Automobile Industry, who surprisingly for the factory chose the French Simca 1307 as the best candidate for the Soviet market.
    Engineers modified an existing Moskvitch engine for front-wheel drive layout and fitted the drivetrain into the Simca. For this an Audi 100 as a model car was used ( [broken link]). After the tests were successfully completed, it was decided by the rights to copy the Simca 1307 bodyshell almost entirely, starting from the A-pillar. While this decision helped to cut the development costs, it came as an insult to engineers and designers, who had their own mock-ups of future car ready. The morale of the staff had been damaged, and Aleko never became a beloved project among Moskvitch engineers (testimony by the Chief Designer of the Moskvitch Stock Company at the time, Igor Zaitsev. Autoreview, 2002, #5, in Russian)

  14. There’s a certain kind of square honesty to the interior, that reminds me of a Volvo. The very Volvo headrests are part of it, too.

  15. Styling wise it is a copy of the alpine, still fwd but with a longitudinally mounted engine. There is no parts interchangeability between the aleko and alpine and by all accounts the Aleko is awful to drive, handling suffering from the front heavy layout, bump steer, scuttle shake and apalling fit and finish.

  16. Indeed, the design of this car was influenced by that of the Alpine. As for the car itself, I’ve used to drive it for years and haven’t encountered any significant problems with it, even despite having travelled almost 200,000 km and the fact that due to the lack of time this model had gone into series production before it was fully completed and got a more powerful engine. From my own driving experience, I can say that this model has a good off-road capability, is remarkably stable on the highway, provides an optimum viewing angle and good visibility for the driver and can be fixed with anything and keep going forever.

  17. In Spain it was potentially sold alongside the Lada range.
    But it has not any sucess, so different from the one achieved by the Samara and the later Yugos.
    We have some of them in our showroom but was not able to find a customer.

  18. In a convoluted way the Moskvich Aleko gives a vague vision on the stillborn reskinned Avenger Estate derived RWD British proposal for Project C6 aka Chrysler Alpine.

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