|Production||1986–1992 (estate, from 1987)|
|Assembly||Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod), RSFSR|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door saloon/sedan 5-door estate/wagon (GAZ-24-12)|
|Engine||ZMZ-402.10 (later ZMZ-4021.10) 2.445 L I4 ZMZ-505 5.53 L V8 (GAZ-24-34)|
When the Soviet of Ministers authorised the long-delayed assembly of the GAZ-3102 in 1981, there was hope that a full upgrade of the conveyor produced GAZ-24 to 3102 would follow. However as the first serial cars left Gorky for government garages in 1982, it became clear to GAZ that lobbying for mass-production of such a car would be pointless. Not only would it fall on oblivious deaf ears, but also the general age of the car and the cost of refitting the conveyor would be too high. A more feasible route was thus chosen to use most of the features of the 3102 and retrofit them to the GAZ-24, in a simplified format. Yet it would take a further two years to gain this approval from Moscow, whose leadership was pre-occupied with the political aftermath following the Death of Leonid Brezhnev to allow for a modernisation to begin. The "upgrade" was done in several stages, mechanical and body.
For the mechanical upgrade, work began with the engine, in accordance to the new standard was now known as ZMZ-402. As explained above, the main novelty of the ZMZ-4022 was the stratified charge ignition. This was immediately ruled out, due to its complication for the mass-produced car. Other change, however, were retained. These included fingerless crankshaft bearing caps, new cast iron camshaft supports with no bushings, double-spring inlet and outlet valves of increased diameter, a new water pump, vibration dampener on the crankshaft pulley, contactless ignition system with a new alternator, new spark plugs and an upgraded K-126GM carburettor. Some of the cars would feature the K-151 carburettor with a paper air filter (as opposed to the traditional oil bath filters), and an idle fuel cutoff solenoid with exhaust gas recirculation. These would often carry the aluminium cylinder block from the ZMZ-4022. Power was now 100 hp, 0–100 km/h 19 seconds, top speed—147 km/h, fuel economy—9.3 l/100 km. GAZ-3102's braking system was also incorporated, with the tandem brake cylinder that featured a dual-chambered Vacuum servo, and pressure regulator on the rear brakes, however the 3102's front disk brakes were left out. The 3.9 rear axle, clutch and 205/70R14 radial tyres with "aerodynamic" hub cups were also carried across.
With these additions, the Volga was shown in a 1984 Soviet car show and in early 1985 the first cars left the conveyor. The second part of the modernisation was the interior. Most of the 3102's layout, including separate front seats with headrests were carried across. However the cars differed, the 3102's trim was velour, for the standard car, standard fabric cloths. The dashboard of the GAZ-3102 was made of shock-absorbing foam with a coloured finish, the mass Volga had to do with hard black plastic. Though the exact layout of switches and ventilation outlets differed, the instrument clusters were identical.
For the exterior, GAZ developed a simplified project repeating the 3102's silhouette but in a much simplified trim, with many chrome details, notably the "baleen" grille and the bumpers replaced by black plastic. Given that the car was to serve a temporary role, it was chosen to avoid replacing the body panels on grounds of cost, with the exception of the doors. To somehow improve the car's aesthetics, a novel decision was chosen to simplify the look. Thus most of the chrome details were removed: the boot lip trim, the cursive "Волга" name on the front fenders, mirrors and wipers were now painted black. The bumper overriders were also removed, as was the comfort light on the c-pillar ornament. Marker lights were integrated into the headlamp, and rectangular fog lamps replaced the circular ones. As a final touch, the Baleen radiator grille was replaced by a black plastic one (originally developed for export models to Benelux countries that were retrofitted with local Diesels). Introduced in April 1986, this completed the transition (the estate's upgrade would linger on until 1987).
As the car was but an upgrade, it did not receive a new car index, though given that it was significantly different from the GAZ-24, the plant issued it the +10 suffix to it and all its models. The taxi (which retained its 80 RON petrol fuel) was thus GAZ-24-11, the estate GAZ-24-12, ambulance GAZ-24-13, taxi estate GAZ-24-14, natural gas powered GAZ-24-17. Even the limited production V8 chaser models were now called GAZ-24-34.
Compared to the GAZ-3102 it was of course a step back, yet with the GAZ-24, it was nonetheless progress. Coincidentally, its introduction took place during the ascendency of Mikhail Gorbachev and the country entering into a new era—perestroika. The GAZ-24-10 would be a small, but an icon of the period nonetheless. This was in part due to its greater availability to the general public as part of the liberalisation programme. With the 3102 capitalising the prestige and exclusivity of the Volga brand, the GAZ-24-10 is merited at upholding its practical role. Thus, despite its obvious archaism in terms of design, the GAZ-24-10 was a success overall.