Timeless and out of competition
UAZ-469 or "UAZ" or "goat" cannot be called the most ancient car produced today. The undisputed palm belongs to the elder sister of the UAZ-450A "Bukhanka", whose conveyor life began back in 1958. Now all-wheel drive minibuses and cars based on it have a specific name UAZ SGR (old cargo line) and formally do not belong to passenger cars. It's all about the strict requirements of the state regarding the safety of the structure. The introduction of airbags and the obligatory ERA-Glonass system would require a large-scale redrawing of the structure from UAZ engineers, so it was decided to follow the path of least resistance and designate all "loaves" and "goats" as N1G category trucks in 2019.
The anti-lock braking system still had to be installed, but we managed to get rid of all the other "options". Interestingly, in 2014, it was proposed to transport all classic UAZ vehicles to the category of tractors and special equipment. But they changed their minds in time, since the buyer would have to obtain the tractor driver's license and beware of going out onto public roads.
All-wheel drive vans and UAZ trucks are quite possibly the oldest mass-produced cars now - this year the construction will hit 63 years old! But the protagonist of today's story will be the UAZ-469, which, along with the heirs of the Ural-375, also belongs to the oldest vehicles of the Russian army. The main reason why the design has not changed very large-scale over half a century is still the same - the lack of competition and the omnipotent defense order. Here you can draw parallels with … the T-34 tank. During the war years, it could be repeatedly and rather seriously modernized, significantly increasing its effectiveness on the battlefield. But the requirements of continuous supply to the front for a long time only allowed to optimize and simplify the production process. Until the Wehrmacht had heavy tanks, which could be compared to a local military disaster, there was no talk of any fundamental improvements in the T-34 design. And only in 1944, in response to thick Teutonic armor and powerful shells, the T-34-85 appeared in the Red Army. It is mistakenly called the Victory Tank, while its predecessor, the T-34-76, bore the main burdens of the war. In the history of the UAZ-469, thank God, there were no total wars, but it was also very difficult to satisfy the needs of the USSR army and allies. Therefore, they were in no hurry to invest in a large-scale improvement of the characteristics of the car in Ulyanovsk until the end of the 80s. However, they were in no hurry to put the car into mass production.
Soviet long-term construction
UAZ-469 became the successor to the world-famous GAZ-69. And this is not an exaggeration. The Soviet Union exported the 69th car to 56 countries, which were often united by one thing - an extremely undeveloped road network. The simplicity of the design, which makes it possible to repair the car in any rural garage, also added advantages to the karma of the GAZ-69. The amazing survivability of the vehicles, the production of which ceased in 1972, is evidenced by the fact that the Russian army was withdrawn from service only in 1994. Almost all the years of the conveyor life of the GAZ-69 was produced in Ulyanovsk on the backup of the Gorky Automobile Plant - UAZ. In the USSR, there was such a tradition - every large automobile plant engaged in the defense sector (read - everything) had to have a double. In many ways, this was a preparation for wartime, as well as a solution to the problem of chronic overload with orders of the main industries. Later, this distribution of responsibilities revealed a lot of positive things. GAZ has grown a wonderful backup UAZ, MAZ has a Kurgan Wheel Tractor Plant, ZIL has a Bryansk Automobile Plant, and so on.
The Ulyanovsk plant as creatively as he could rethink the design of the machine from Gorky. In 1970, the all-terrain vehicle received bridges from the UAZ-452 truck - one might say that this is how the bonneted car was gradually transformed into the future UAZ-469. There were attempts to create on the basis of the 69th "goat" and completely exotic cars. So, in the early 60s, a small car was integrated with a dump body and even equipped with a semitrailer for 2 tons of cargo. They tried to deal with the chronic shortage of machines with a carrying capacity of 1 to 2 tons. By the way, this problem could not be properly resolved until the collapse of the Soviet Union.
All the tricks with the well-deserved design of the GAZ-69 in Ulyanovsk went in parallel with the development and testing of the new generation all-terrain vehicle UAZ-469. For the first time, the idea of creating a new car to replace the one obtained from Gorky at the UAZ made sense in 1956. It was then, according to the future chief designer of theme 469 Lev Adrianovich Startsev, that the idea of creating a cabover SUV with an engine in the stern and with a monocoque body was born. The military rejected the idea, as the cabover-free "Loaf" UAZ-450A was on the way, and the structure was considered not the most durable. And rightly so - plainly undeveloped solutions such as a monocoque body could be costly in future operation.
The very first prototype of the future car, which we know as the UAZ-469, was an all-terrain vehicle with an index of 460. It is noteworthy that the requirements for the new car were presented by several departments at once - the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Forestry, NAMI, Research Institute of Automobile Transport and, of course, the main customer - Ministry of Defence. The requirements varied somewhat, but one thing was clear - a more spacious, passable, reliable and lifting all-terrain vehicle was needed than the GAZ-69.
UAZ-460, which meets most of the requirements, turned out to be ugly. He also did not have the most trivial door arrangement. On the left side there were two doors, and on the right side there was only one to make room for a spare wheel. In total, with a wicket in the stern, the car had four doors. Later, a car with the usual five doors joined the tests. The main issue was the design of the SUV's suspension. Military customers insisted on an independent torsion bar suspension, but for its time it turned out to be difficult and unreliable. The prototypes withstood a given ground clearance of 345 mm only with a driver and a passenger, and further load caused serious subsidence and, as a result, a decrease in geometric cross-country ability. By the way, due to the high carrying capacity, the UAZ-469 is considered to be prone to "goats". To solve the problem of ground clearance under load, they decided to put the suspension harder. As a result, a real "goat" feels good mainly with five riders and a loaded trailer or even a light artillery piece. But back to testing prototypes of the late 50s. As mentioned, the torsion bar suspension proved to be a capricious unit, and the choice initially fell on a car with a classic dependent leaf spring suspension. To increase the ground clearance, it was decided to equip the axles with gearboxes.
For comparative tests of a pair of UAZ-460 with gear axles and torsion bar suspension, a foreign analogue was involved, which had already become famous for its remarkable cross-country ability - the English Land Rover Series I. He participated in field work and the retiring GAZ-69. It was the very starting point that allows us to understand how much better than its predecessor UAZ. The "Englishman" showed himself in the tests of the late 50s - early 60s not in the best way. Affected by the relatively low ground clearance and low suspension travel. In the mud, Land Rover sat on bridges earlier than Ulyanovsk cars, was unable to overcome the 250-mm track diagonally and was powerless before a dirt ascent with a steepness of 36 degrees. The German SUV Sachsenring P3 with an independent torsion bar suspension took part in some stages of the tests, but it got out of the field in time, destroying the flimsy suspension of the left side on a piece of water pipe sticking out of the ground. UAZ-460 with springs proved to be the best, but its cross-country ability was still insufficient for military customers. The all-terrain vehicle did not go well on a wet meadow, had low suspension travels, which is why it often hung the wheels on the slopes of the terrain. The UAZ-460 did not cope with virgin snow in the best way. As a result, the engineers had to go into design work for a year and a half and in 1962 presented an updated prototype with the legendary 469 index.