In previous stories, dedicated to the best domestic light SUV, it was about the first prototypes and state tests. In this part of the material, we will deal with the appearance of the first machines, the design of which and the appearance already corresponded to the familiar UAZ-469.
By the way, why exactly the index 469?
It's all about the unified indexing system of automotive vehicles from 1945. In accordance with it, the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant received a range of names from 450 to 484. Without further ado, the project managers simply added the number 4 to the index of the predecessor GAZ-69.
Interestingly, the Stalin plant (which later became ZiL) was given the widest range of three-digit indices - from 100 to 199. GAZ also enjoyed a similar "privilege" with a range from 1 to 99. A pair of Moscow AZLK and Izhevsk IZH received two times less freedom - from 400 to 499. Ulyanovsk residents were allocated, as written above, only 34 indexes, as if hinting at not the widest range of products. However, an even smaller range belonged to the Lviv Bus Plant - from 695 to 699.
The adopted indexing system formally existed until 1966, however, in fact, much longer. The hero of the history of the UAZ-469 entered the assembly line in 1973, and received a new index 3151 only in 1985.
Let's go back to 1960, which was marked for the UAZ by another refusal from the Ministry of Defense.
This time, reliability, strength of key components and minor flaws were not good. In particular, the car with independent wheel suspension caused complaints. In the field test report, they wrote:
“The suspension of the cars worked extremely unreliable for structural and mainly manufacturing defects. The working wheel travel and the smooth running of the vehicles are insufficient. The suspension needs better manufacturing performance and structural refinement to increase wheel travel, improve ride quality and increase the strength and reliability of its parts."
The tests of the UAZ were carried out with particular passion by the specialists of the specialized NII-21, which we now know as the 21 Scientific Research Testing Institute of Military Automotive Equipment of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
From under the artist's brush
Since December 1960, the plant workers have begun one of the last modifications of their brainchild. The appearance has changed quite seriously. From the original design, which was overtly utilitarian, came to a more aesthetic exterior with convex elements. On previous models, most of the body panels were flat. This, of course, guaranteed high manufacturability, but not the most expressive appearance. It was decided to add a little army gloss to the appearance of the UAZ-469.
Drawn "UAZ" Albert Mikhailovich Rakhmanov, who worked at the UAZ since 1956, immediately after graduation from the capital MAMI.
It is noteworthy that Rakhmanov did not have a special education “designer” or “technical artist”. By profession, he is a design engineer, distinguished himself during the work on his graduation project in the development of an automobile body. As the author argued, until 1956, no one was involved in the development of body projects within the framework of diploma works at MAMI. Largely due to such a specific profile, Albert Mikhailovich was assigned to the body shop at the UAZ.
The appearance of the UAZ-469 was not the debut in Rakhmanov's career. The first test of the brush was a non-trivial work on installing the body of a cabover UAZ-450 on an experimental GAZ-62 chassis. The car was an analogue of the Lend-Lease Dodge ¾, but it never went into mass production. Moreover, attempts to adapt the UAZ-450 “loaf” body for it did not see the light of day.
In 1957, Rakhmanov was connected to the project of the future UAZ-469, which had a revolutionary rear-engine layout. The car was supposed to float and was equipped with an independent suspension on longitudinal torsion bars. Such a "UAZ" was not approved due to the excessive complexity and price.
Later, Albert Mikhailovich, the only designer at the plant, was involved in work on running prototypes of bonneted UAZs. SUVs were not distinguished by elegance and brevity. Since 1961, Rakhmanov has focused on the new style of the UAZ-469. In an interview with the drom.ru portal, the artist said:
“The flat solution of the sidewalls did not satisfy us because of the too nondescript appearance, the hard-to-achieve quality surface and the low rigidity of the panels. In the first prototypes, there was no architectonics, that is, the integrity of the image. Therefore, I continued to make new sketches, draw various variants of the sidewalls and "plumage". Borzov kept track of all the "lines" and helped to comprehend them from the point of view of production. Once, during the next parsing of the drawing, he dropped the phrase about the preference for curved surfaces for body panels, better in appearance, more rigid with the same sheet thickness. It was the "key" that helped to arrive at the final design of the UAZ-469 - solid, laconic, expressive and … with "bent sides".
Albert Rakhmanov, in addition to participating in the creation of the appearance of the Ulyanovsk cars, is the author of the brand's logo. The letter "U" on the steel rim is a stylization of a flying seagull against the backdrop of the setting sun. The patent for the emblem was obtained in December 1963.
First, in the body bureau of the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant, a model of the future 469 was molded on a scale of 1: 5. This was already the third generation of the machine's appearance, in which there was not even a trace of the militant severity of army equipment. "UAZ" has acquired a characteristic good-natured appearance, smoothed out by convex surfaces.
Immediately after the approval, a full-size wooden model appeared, and then the first machines in "metal". Interesting is the appearance of a spare wheel on the tailgate. As we remember, in the first versions, the spare tire was mounted behind the driver's seat, which required additional precious space inside the body. The option of placing the wheel on a folding bracket on the rear door turned out to be more acceptable. The plant workers had to persuade customers from the Ministry of Defense for a long time in the advisability of such know-how. As a result, the attachment point was approved and subsequently copied by Japanese automakers.
A distinctive feature of the third generation UAZ-469 was a huge hood for its time. On all previous prototypes, the hood was of an alligator type with developed front fenders. A sort of design development of the GAZ-69 model. The increased weight of the hood was seen as a major flaw in the solution. But already on the first prototypes, bonuses were revealed - the convenience of servicing the engine and attachments, the high manufacturability of the part and the laconic appearance of the front of the car.
Its history also happened with the characteristic flat waistline of the body, adjacent to the curved sidewalls. The need for such a strip was dictated by the unification of the opening handles with the GAZ-69. The chrome-plated handle in the "open" position just reached the convex surfaces of the door. A typical example is when a function determines the appearance of a product.
Surprisingly, with the development of the UAZ-469, they did not forget about the modernization of the well-deserved GAZ-69.
Although the military was no longer satisfied with the archaic design with insufficient maneuverability, the options for finalizing the "goat" were still being worked out. Simply because deep modernization is much cheaper than building a new car. It got to the point that the project of "restyling" of the honored SUV was entrusted to a well-known English company in the 60s. Rakhmanov also worked on the refined appearance of the GAZ-69. The sketches on paper, however, were never implemented even in full-size layouts.
The first running prototypes of the UAZ-469 appeared in 1961 in their familiar appearance.
The independent suspension was abandoned, while the wheel reduction gears were retained in the chassis. The military demanded a ground clearance of at least 320 mm, which negatively affected the stability of the vehicle.
When entering a turn at a completely harmless speed, the prototypes of the UAZ-469 strove to go on board. The salvation turned out to be a new frame with a middle part curved downward - this made it possible to slightly lower the center of gravity.
By 1962, the base of the car was increased by 80 mm, wheel reduction gears with compact internal gearing were installed and the comfort in the cabin was improved. In 1963, engineers satisfied the military's requirement to increase the maximum payload from 500 to 600 kg.
And finally, in 1964, the UAZ appeared, which was not radically modernized until the mid-80s. Only now the car that was put into service remained frozen until 1973.