For UAZ tractors, see UAZ (tractors).
Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (UAZ)
Type Subsidiary of Sollers JSC
Founded 1941
Headquarters Ulyanovsk, Russia
Industry Automotive
Products SUVs
Off-roaders
Buses
Trucks
Website Official UAZ website
SeverstalAvto Site on UAZ

UAZ-469 stella at UAZ plant in Ulyanovsk

UAZ (УАЗ), Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (Ульяновский Автомобильный Завод) is an automobile manufacturer based in Ulyanovsk, Russia which makes SUVs, buses and trucks. Production started in 1941.

History[edit | edit source]

Creation[edit | edit source]

In 1941, after the start of Great Patriotic War, Stalin's government made every effort possible to try to save Soviet industry from being captured by the German army. So, in 1941, because of rapid advances by the Germans on Moscow, a decision was made to relocate ZIS - a Moscow car and freighter manufacturing plant - further away from the front line. Such a place was Ulyanovsk, a town in Volga region with existing infrastructure and skilled workers, but out of reach of German army. At that time, the plant was considered a subsidiary of ZIS. By 1942, the production of artillery shells and cars began.

In 1943, when the prospect of Germans winning the war was less likely, a decision was made to separate the relocated plant from ZIS. This was a part of general after-war policy conducted by Stalin's government in which relocated plants were separated into different units, since all the required buildings had already been erected. The existing plants before relocation were filled with (often - German) equipment, thus bursting the industry.

A logical choice for the newly created plant was to produce military and paramilitary cars, mostly due to its distance from the border. Therefore, in mid-1950es the production of the only Soviet offroad car, GAZ-69, was moved to Ulyanovsk. This car marked a beginning of a famous line of offroad vehicles manufactured by the plant.

Golden age[edit | edit source]

UAZ began its growth away from being a mere assembler in 1954, with the creation of its own design office.[1] It was this office, responding to a request from the Red Army, that in 1955 created a forward control van project, codenamed "Forty", on the GAZ-69 chassis.[1] This became the UAZ-450, the first Soviet "cabover" truck.[1] The prototype appeared in 1956, and was tested in both the Caucasus Mountains and the Crimea.[1] Its loaded weight was 2.7 tonnes, and it, like all the 450 series vehicles, was powered by a 62 hp (46 kW/63 PS) low-compression 2,432 cc (148.4 cu in) inline-four (based on the ubiquitous Pobeda's, but with an 88 mm (3.5 in) bore, rather than 82 mm (3.2 in)), and the Pobeda's three-speed transmission, while the transfer case, drive axles, leaf springs, and drum brakes came from the GAZ 69.[1]

In 1958, UAZ began production of the UAZ-450 series of trucks and vans. The first model was the 450A ambulance; with room for two stretchers and four-wheel drive, it was arguably the best in the world for use in remote areas.[1] It was followed by the 450D drop-side pickup, which had an 800 kg (1,800 lb) payload; the 450 van, with a 750 kg (1,700 lb) payload; and the 11-seat 450V microbus.[1] All the 450 series were capable of disconnecting the front drive axle and of reaching 56 mph (90 km/h), achieving fuel economy of 14 L/100 km (17 mpg-US/20 mpg-imp), and of towing an 850 kg (1,900 lb) trailer.[1] By mid-60es, the new management of the plant completed development of first original [U]AZ cars. The GAZ-69 offroad vehicle was replaced by UAZ-469. UAZ-469 was very similar in design to the original Jeep - a sturdy, but not-so-comfortable car that was able to drive in virtually any terrain and was easy to fix. The Uaz-469 reached legendary status for its reliability and off-road ability. The car didn't enter the personal use market until late 80s and was reserved for police forces and paramilitary (its commercially-available analog was produced by LuAZ, which was too close to border to be associated with the military).

A two-wheel drive variant of the 450 was announced on 12 December 1961, with the 450's 2,300 mm (91 in) wheelbase and engine, as the 451 (van), 451D (drop-side pickup), 451A (ambulance), and 451B (minibus).[2] The ambulance spawned a prototype UAZ-452GP with hydropneumatic suspension, to enable it to cross rough ground at high speed, following on the work done by Citröen on the DS19.[2] The system proved very successful on trials, but it was rejected by the Soviet Army as too complicated, and so never entered production.[3]

In 1966, the 451s were updated with a 70 hp (52 kW/71 PS) 2,432 cc (148.4 cu in) inline-four (still based on the Pobeda's), four-speed gearbox, and minor detail changes, plus a stronger chassis (and so higher payload).[3] The models were a redesignated 451M (van, with an 800 kg (1,800 lb) payload) and a 451DM (pickup, with a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) payload).[3] Maximum speed was 59 mph (95 km/h).[3]

In 1966, the four-wheel drives were renumbered UAZ-452 (van), 452D (pickup), 452V (minibus), 452A and 452G (both ambulances, with different patient capacities).[3] There was also the 452S ambulance, specially designed for Arctic conditions, with more heating capacity, double-glazed windows, and insulation; they proved able to keep a 30 °C interior temperature in -60 °C outside conditions.[4] The 452 was able to cross 50 cm (20 in) of snow and carry an 800 kg (1,800 lb) load.[5] The 452s would go on to become a workhorse of Soviet agriculture and police, with the pickup proving a popular commercial vehicle.[6] Export versions of the 452D were called Trekmaster when sold in Britain, but never in large numbers; there was also a version with a British-built dump body, the Tipmaster.[7]

The 451S was a snow-crossing variant with front skis and rear tracks; it was never produced in quantity, nor was the 451S2, which had tracks at front and rear.[7] The 452 also served as the basis for an articulated model, the 452P, that was never put into production.[5]


The UAZ-469 and its modifications has gained legendary status all over the world for its off-road ability, reliability and simplicity. Due to the vehicles reliability and capabilities it is to this day loved and used by off-road enthusiasts all over the world and is a welcome alternative to the US Jeep, British Land Rover and Japanese Land Cruisers due to its lower costs and similar characteristics.

In 1972 the well-regarded, but outdated, GAZ-69 was replaced by the more modern UAZ-469. This was developed from the UAZ-471 of 1958 (with four-wheel independent suspension, which proved too complex)[8] and the UAZ 460.[9] The UAZ-469 was a sturdy, but not-so-comfortable vehicle with the ability to overcome virtually any terrain, while also providing ease of maintenance. The 469 reached legendary status, thanks to its reliability and impressive off-road capability, even though it was not made available to the civilian market until the late 1980s, before which time it was built exclusively for police and military use, as well as heads of agricultural enterprises (kolhozes and sovhozes). A commercially available variant was produced by the Lutzk Automotive Works.

Crisis[edit | edit source]

After the collapse of Soviet Union, UAZ has started feeling the heat. On one hand, people were willing to buy its cars due to its high reputation; on the other hand, most preferred used imported offroad cars due to the lack of reliability of UAZ cars made in the 90s. UAZ produced a slightly modified version of its original UAZ-469 car, UAZ Hunter, but the sales were still lacking.

NOTE: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, UAZ experienced many financial problems which resulted in poor quality control and cost cutting which resulted in the production of low quality UAZ automobiles compared to those made in Soviet times.

In 2004, the plant was bought out by the Severstal financial group, which made many investments in the firm and had also bought the ZMA car plant in Naberezhnye Chelny.

In 2005, a new SUV-like car, UAZ Patriot, was unveiled. Extensive use of third-party parts (which finally allowed UAZ to replace its notorious transmission with a better, Korean-manufactured one), large capacity, good offroad capabilities and affordable price (<15,000 USD) predict good sales in Russia. UAZ unveils a new 4 door pickup truck.

Later years[edit | edit source]

In the 1990s, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, UAZ became a joint-stock company and soon received the Golden Globe and Golden Mercury Awards for a significant volume of sales and its contribution to the Russian economy.[10]

On 5 August 1997, the new UAZ-3160 went into production and received a gold medal at an international fair in Yekaterinburg. The car was used as the basis for the later Simbir and UAZ-3163.[10]

In March 2003, UAZ opened an assembly line in Vietnam. On 20 November, the company produced the last UAZ-31512 and the first UAZ Hunter.[10]

On 17 August 2005, the first UAZ Patriots rolled off the assembly line. They had new suspension, transmission and steering control and became the first brand new models of UAZ since the fall of the Soviet Union. The same year the assembly line had undergone a large-scale modernization. The company signed contracts with foreign suppliers and used a significant number of foreign components in its newest vehicles.[10]

In 2006, UAZ opened a new control and test section of the main assembly line and presented 4 new cars at the Moscow International Automobile Salon.[10]

Bremach T-Rex.

In 2009, Bremach Industry in conjunction with UAZ started development of a new special truck chassis-based Bremach T-Rex. It was assumed that the cars UAZ T-REX terrain capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes will be made under the orders of customers for the needs of the road construction sector, government agencies, as well as special vehicles for the emergency operations at processing facilities in remote regions. As far as is known from reliable sources, this project has not received further development.[11]

In the following years UAZ introduced a number of additional options and improvements in its vehicles, such as the better heating and ventilation of the passenger compartment, engine cooling system, together with Lukoil introduced a new line of motor oils for its cars, offered Iveco diesel engines and launched the UAZ Cargo, a light commercial truck based on the UAZ Patriot.[10]

In 2012, the Patriot and the Pickup received a new engine, ZMZ Euro-4 with European on-board diagnostics, which became the first Russian diesel engine to meet Euro-4 Standards. 2013 was the banner year for UAZ, with export sales increasing by 37% since 2012. The next year the sales of the Patriot rose by 10%, and the company was visited by Premier Dmitry Medvedev.[10]

During a test drive in 2014, a UAZ Patriot crossed winter roads and frozen tundra of the Sakha Republic and reached one of the northernmost Russian ports at Tiksi, being the first car to cross the 73rd parallel north moving under its own power.[10]

In January 2015, the sales increased by 3%. A UAZ Patriot support vehicle took part in the 2015 Dakar Rally, crossing the route of 9,295 km through Bolivia, Chile and Peru. The company finished the production of special series of UAZ Hunters, which were to be replaced by newer models; these Hunters were a limited edition and had airbrushed artistic paintings on them commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II. In August the UAZ Patriot received new upgrades, including new paint colors, 18-inch wheels, interiors, frameless wiper blades, etc. The same year UAZ trucks were present at the Moscow Off-Road Show 2015, Interpolitech-2015 and ComTrans-2015 exhibitions.[10]

UAZ delisted from the Moscow Exchange in July 2015.[12]

Reliability[edit | edit source]

The UAZ-469 (and its modifications) has earned a reputation as a very reliable and capable 4x4. It has gained huge popularity among off-road enthusiasts within Russia, former Soviet republics as well as Europe, Asia, South America and Africa, and is preferred by many over other legendary 4x4’s such as Land Rover, Jeep and Toyota.

One of the main reasons the 469 has enjoyed such popularity is its deliberately simple design, which allows for easy maintenance and repairs. Its simplicity is a deliberate design feature for 2 main reasons: the requirements of the Soviet Armed Forces, as well as the little known fact that most people in the Soviet Union / Russia prefer to fix their cars themselves as opposed to taking them to an authorized mechanic.

Furthermore: the UAZ's simplicity, easy maintenance and extremely inexpensive spare parts allow the car to last much longer than more expensive and complicated western 4x4s. Even the most complicated and costly repairs can be done by the owners themselves, and rarely cost more than a few hundred dollars.

Reliability Issues: although the UAZ has proven to be a reliable 4x4, there have been a few problems with the car’s reliability that have slightly hurt its reputation.

The transmission of the original 469 has been known to have problems when not maintained properly (as the owners manual dictates). Another major problem within Russia has been the production of counterfeit parts made out of cheap metals.Furthermore, the 90’s (after the fall of the Soviet Union) saw a significant decline of quality in the assembly of UAZ vehicles as the company struggled to survive and could not afford to pay the salaries of its employees.

Other problems have been encountered with the modernization of the vehicle, as many of the new electrical and cosmetic parts have been of poor quality. To combat these problems, and return the reliability and dependability of UAZ vehicles to their former standards the UAZ Company has recently introduced a new Quality Control system which has reduced the number of UAZ vehicles with defects arriving in showrooms around the world.

Models[edit | edit source]

Current[edit | edit source]

UAZ Patriot restyling of 2014

UAZ Cargo

Current lineup of UAZ vehicles:[13]

Past models[edit | edit source]

UAZ-452

UAZ-469

Minivan

  • UAZ Simba 3165/3165m (4x2 or 4x4) - 8-seater minivan concept vehicle - not produced

Minibuses

Trucks

Prototypes[edit | edit source]

UAZ Jaguar (3907) amphibious 4x4x

UAZ-3150 aka UAZ Sport

  • UAZ Jaguar amphibious 4x4
  • UAZ Sport Jeeplike 4x4
  • UAZ 3171/3172 - a rebodied 469 of which the 3172 was the standard version and the 3171 was the short-wheel base version. The civil version had rectangular headlights. Never entered production.[14]

See also[edit | edit source]

Cross-country vehicle UAZ-39294 «TREKOL 39041»

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Russian nickname for the UAZ-469 is "Козёл", which means "goat".
  • The Russian nickname for the UAZ-452 is "Буханка", which means "loaf" (of bread).
  • There is a saying that "A UAZ will break down where no other car can go". Referring to the reliability of UAZ cars.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Thompson, p. 72.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thompson, p. 172.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Thompson, p. 173.
  4. Thompson, pp.173 & 175.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Thompson, p.175.
  6. Thompson, p.175, support only the "commercial vehicle" claim.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thompson, pp. 175–176.
  8. Thompson, p.176.
  9. Thompson, p.73 caption.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 "История".
  11. http://offroadclub.ru/accounts/jeepers/blog/bremach_t-rex__ispytaniya_rossiey.html Script error: No such module "webarchive". www.offroadclub.ru
  12. "BRIEF-UAZ announces delisting of shares from Moscow Exchange", Reuters (16 July 2015). Retrieved on 23 April 2017. 
  13. "Vehicles". Retrieved on 11 July 2017.
  14. "Archived copy".

External links[edit | edit source]

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