Like most other world powers in World War 1 (1914-1918), the mechanized side of the Russian Army during the conflict largely centered on armored cars. The Putilov-Garford Armored Car was one such example and consistent with designs of the times - an armor superstructure developed atop the chassis of an existing vehicle. In this case, it was the American-originated, 4x2 wheeled, 5-ton class Garford Motor truck. Because of its origins in a civilian-minded machine, the Putilov-Garford design ultimately suffered what most World War 1 cars suffered from - limited performance brought about by an underpowered engine. Cross-country performance was also poor with wheels holding a tendency to sink into soft terrain under the weight of guns, armor, and crew. Power was through the original Garford 4-cylinder, air-cooled, gasoline-fueled engine of 30 horsepower which allowed for road speeds of just over 10 miles per hour and operational ranges out to 75 miles.
The Russians experimented with various armament fits for the truck during initial testing and settled on a 76mm field gun for maximum hitting power at range. This was seated in a limited-traverse and elevation emplacement over the rear of the truck. The armored hull superstructure was developed by NM Fiatov and made up of steel sheets. Some sections were sloped for basic ballistics deflection while others were left more vulnerable vertical faces. Thickness at given points measured up to 6.5mm which offered protection against small arms fire and artillery spray. The crew numbered five and included the driver and commander seated at the front of the vehicle with the engine. Vision ports allowed for some situational awareness and pistol ports allowed for the pair to engage outside entities. A roof hatch provided some observation capabilities for the commander at the risk of catching a sniper's bullet. The remainder of the crew consisted of the main gunner and two machine gunners. A 7.62mm Vickers machine gun was offset to the right side of the 76mm gun over the rear and side sponsons each contained a 7.62mm machine gun. 5,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition could be carried into action.
The vehicle weighed 8.5 tons and held dimensions of 5.7 meters long, 2.3 meters wide, and 2.8 meters tall. As the armored superstructure sat on the already-tall truck chassis, this gave the Putilov-Garford model a very high profile for a combat vehicle - much to the chagrin of the operating crew.
Production from the Putilov Factory totaled some 48 units from the period spanning 1916 to 1918. The Russian Navy also ordered the type for local defense through a multiple-vehicle batch order and these varied slightly from their Army counterparts. As many as five of the Russian cars were believed to be captured and reconstituted for service by the German Army along the East Front and these remained in service for a time after the war for local security. A few also fell to the Poles. Russian use of the Putilov-Garford system continued into the post-war years where they were featured in the Russian Civil War.