By on October 5, 2017

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via sellerEarlier this week, we brought you a Rare Ride straight from the Eastern Block. The Skoda 120 was Czechoslovakia’s answer to the middle-market family sedan. Today we keep it Communist and look at Russia’s answer to the decadent and capitalistic Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender, the UAZ-469.

This four-by-four can really do some work.

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via seller

UAZ has been around for quite a while. Founded in 1941, the initials stand for Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant. UAZ is a manufacturer of trucks, SUVs, and small bus and van models — and that’s it.

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via seller

One of their most popular models, the 469, was the successor to the GAZ-69, which was in production from 1953 to 1972. Entering production in 1971, the 469 is still in production today. Minor modifications saw the model renamed as the UAZ-3151 in 1985. A few more minor modifications over the years, another renaming in 2003 to the Hunter name, and that carries us to present day. It’s most impressive what car companies can do (or not do) when regulations aren’t standing in the way.

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via sellerThe UAZ-469 isn’t produced in quite as many places as it used to. Presently, it’s being assembled in only five locales: Russia, Cuba, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, and the Ukraine. The only other vehicle produced by UAZ presently is the Patriot. That one is more luxurious, and sort of a cross between a Nissan Frontier and a 2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara. Onward to our Rare Ride!

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via sellerFor sale in Indiana (via Chicago’s Craigslist), this black UAZ is from 1991 (or maybe pre-1985), and has been imported from somewhere far away and titled here in the USA. It’s past the 25-year import age requirement either way, so the title confusion probably isn’t worth much worry.

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via sellerWith just 23,000 miles on it, things look neat and tidy — even in the engine bay. This particular 469 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 71 horsepower.

Image: 1991 UAZ 469, image via sellerOn the floor is a manual of four or five speeds, and there’s a two-speed transfer box for those mucky Communist America situations. The interior features seats and even a steering wheel. Don’t get any Land Rovery, aspirational ideas in here — it’s not going to happen.

Asking $15,000 seems a bit aspirational in itself, but the UAZ is the sort of rarity someone is likely to covet. Sort of the antithesis of everything the UAZ stands for, don’t you think?

[Images via seller]

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66 Comments on “Rare Rides: A UAZ From 1991 Brings the Iron Curtain to the Midwest...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Da!!!

  • avatar

    “This four-by-four can really do some work (which of course sets you free).”

    ‘Arbeit macht frei’ was a slogan of the German National Socialists, not the Russian communists.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    A Holocaust joke in this political climate?

    Really?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      1. I’m sure Corey’s intention was not in reference to the Holocaust.

      2. What sort if “political climate” would make Holocaust jokes acceptable?

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        John you’re absolutely right. It was obviously unintentional, no harm no foul. I personally had a visceral reaction to reading it, but certainly harbor no ill will towards Corey (who was more so making a Top Gear reference anyways). Live and let live, and more rare rides!

  • avatar
    ajla

    “a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 71 horsepower.”

    Between this and the 55hp Skoda from earlier I feel like singing Lee Greenwood.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      That old Volga-sourced OHV mill will run on dishwater, and can be repaired with absolutely minimal instruments. Roadside headgasket replacement for example, is a piece of cake.

      There was an attempt to sell them in the US as new cars in the early 90s, with a longer term goal of powering them with GM 3800s (a perfect pairing IMO).

      youtu.be/FFJ-3evD2XM

      • 0 avatar

        I read up on this a bit yesterday, and the reason it’s not in the article was that it never happened. I think the whole plan collapsed before any cars ever got here.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Yep, and it’s too bad! I mean, they’re absolute junk in terms of build quality, I mean Vega/X-body levels of hilarious horrible-ness, but with a hands-on owner, can be sturdy and useful rigs.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        While the large scale attempt to sell them failed, a few made it to the US. There was a used car lot here in Grand Rapids that had a franchise for these things. I forget what they were being called, something like TrailFire…

        I don’t think they ever sold more than a couple. One ended up on the main drag here on the south side of town about a year later or so. It eventually disappeared, I have no idea what happened to it.

  • avatar
    vvk

    It is offensive to call Ukraine “the Ukraine.”

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Not without linguistic logic and historic precedent, however. ‘The Ukraine’ roughly translates as “the borderlands/hinterlands.”

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        Precisely.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Thats because Russia is not country we know today (Russian Federation). Russia is definition for all lands in Ukraine, Belarus, parts of Poland, some parts of [country] Russia. If Kiev would win their war against Moscow, modern Ukraine might be called “Russia” today. But Moscow won and center moved there from Kiev. Hence count in Moscow was titled Great Count of Moscow and Tsar of All Russias.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m no fan of Bogdan Khmelnitsky and his Cossacks, but I’m pretty sure that as fierce as they were, they would have laughed at your feelings being hurt over the use of a definite article in someone’s grammar.

  • avatar
    brakeless

    I am offended that this vehicle does not belong to me.

    But I wonder how 25xxx kilometers converts into 23,000 miles. Russian hackers?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    “The only other vehicle produced by UAZ presently is the Patriot. That one is more luxurious, and sort of a cross between a Nissan Frontier and a 2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara.”

    You gotta do some more research on this one Corey. UAZ still makes the UAZ-452 van lineup as well (van body, pickup, crew cab pickup, box truck). The Patriot is actually closer to these old school rigs than not, with solid axles front and rear (suspended by coil springs and not leafs at least), more more primitive overall that something like a Frontier or old Grand Vitara, even if it does have LED DRLs and heated seats and infotainment added on.

    • 0 avatar

      Wikipedia has issues when it comes to UAZ.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        You could have just visited the company website, they even have an English version :)

        https://www.uaz.ru/en/

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve learned my lesson about writing on Russian vehicles, so this will be the only one you see here from me. It’s all a bit too sensitive.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Corey – if you get pics of Russian vehicles just send them to gtemnykh and he can write the articles. ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Don’t take it personally, all the technical detail stuff is just me being pedantic (autistic? lol). But the concentration camp reference was definitely a no-no for me personally.

          • 0 avatar

            Was a reference to Top Gear.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “if you get pics of Russian vehicles just send them to gtemnykh and he can write the articles. ;-)”

            I would gladly assist! My Diahatsu Terios and beater Maxima articles are still lost in limbo somewhere over at TTAC!

            I can also write something up on the old family ZAZ 966, the Izh/moskvitch 412 series, fiat based ladas, fwd ladas, basically anything Soviet/Russian I either have some personal experience with, or have gorged on enough youtube/online info to be fairly well versed.

  • avatar
    kwbuggy

    Looks a lot like a LADA Niva to me!

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Not really… aside from the round headlights maybe?

      The Niva was a real revelation when it came out in 1977, especially in contrast to the rough and tumble UAZ that was horrible on the road and in general is a very crude implement. The Niva was really the first of its kind in the world IMO, a car based unibody SUV with a fulltime AWD system (selectable low range and locking center diff). It combined a smooth ride and (relatively) car-like on road characteristics with really good offroad capabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yeah! Like the way a Ford Bronco looks a lot like a Chevy Corsica.

      • 0 avatar
        brakeless

        Hey now, the Corsica was a seriously good off roader in its own right. I mean, have you seen one ON the road lately? No? That’s because they’re all off road.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      It is not Niva by any means. Niva is a unibody car, this is body on frame. Niva is fairly comfortable, this is rugged and rough, military-based. Inspired by American Jeep sent to USSR in WWII

  • avatar
    technivore

    That thing looks like a blast to goof around in for a weekend but I’m not sure I’d want to own it. In any case if you want to drive one in video game form, it’s in the game Spintires: http://orcz.com/Spintires:_Type_A-469_Vehicle

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Underrated game for sure. The physics model for mud is the best I’ve seen. I think it’s the best off-road focused game ever made, speaking in terms of realism.

      • 0 avatar
        technivore

        I enjoy it but I wish there were an easy mode for the times I want to just tool around in the woods and not get stuck in the mud every 10 seconds. There certainly is something tremendously satisfying about driving those massive old Russian trucks through the mud though.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        For slowly traversing the landscape in a truck it is the best. The 469 make a good explored vehicle to uncloak the maps. Lots of mod support also.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      The story of that game’s development is almost as good as the game itself.

      There’s a “new” one coming out, which is very similar to the first one, but with a new publisher with which the singular Russian guy who built the game is apparently able to work.

      To be honest, I only learned about the “sequel” (and yes, bought it) after reading your comment. I Googled because I thought Spintires was pretty sweet from when it was a tech demo to early retail versions, but stopped paying attention after watching a sad sequence play out between that one guy, who admittedly might not be the easiest to work with, and the unfortunate rent-seekers who were responsible for everything else*.

      TL;DR: don’t buy Spintires for $30, pre-order the new one (Mudrunner) for half as much.

      *For some reason, it has an extremely obsessive fan base, second only to BeamNG among driving games; I have to assume the detailed physical models are appealing to some on the spectrum, but it’s also just a challenging game that isn’t very social, and thus may attract folks who aren’t very social themselves. It may be co-incidental, but as the publishers were in the midst of looking somewhat scummy, this did happen:

      http://www.wymondhamandattleboroughmercury.co.uk/news/two-week-old-135-000-mercedes-owned-by-gorleston-man-damaged-overnight-in-hethersett-1-3967298

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        We bought the original because it was with several other games on Humble Bundle for $7 for everything. Our 7 year old likes running around some of the user made maps with his Wrangler Rubicon rock crawling and mudding.

        There was/is a lot of friction between the fans, the publisher and the developer.

        The Mudrunner looks to be better in all respects.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I love it, I’d really like to have one. Nice find Corey.

    I found this Lada the other day when looking for a Niva.
    https://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/cto/d/1980-lada-2101-like-new/6266510013.html

    • 0 avatar

      That’s a pretty one.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I thought so, too. Here’s another Lada in the States:
        https://seattle.craigslist.org/est/cto/d/lada-2106-for-sale/6295939490.html

        Look, a tachometer! Such decadence.

        • 0 avatar

          Even some brougham treatment on the steering wheel. Most luxurious.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Could those engines really spin to 6000 rpm?

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The 2106 was the successor to the 2103 (both distinguished by quad headlights), and was seen as the sporty/lux model to the more “vanilla” 2101. The motor was more powerful (up to 1.6L now), more features (tach, etc). But then they lingered on and on, superceded by the 2105/2107 cars (the boxy ones with square headlights), and generally took the bottom rung in the hierarchy once the 2101 was finally retired in ’86 iirc.

            I do think the SOHC mill can stand 6k rpm, but probably couldn’t tolerate sitting there all day like a Honda motor.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My recently deceased uncle ran a ’81 2101 right up until 2016 when he passed, his was bought off a pensioner in quite good mechanical and cosmetic condition. Over there, it’s not seen as “driving a classic” more so you drive the most structurally sound, cheapest rwd lada you can get your hands on. Folks will hop between 80s cars to 90s to 2000s cars and backwards in no particular order as they wear out, oftentimes swapping out a good motor from their current rotted out ride into a clean rolling chassis. And the general consensus is that the commie-era cars are vastly superior in material and assembly quality to anything made in the “wild 90s” when the mob ran Tolyatti and paychecks at the factory were intermittent. Mechanically differences are fairly minor, aside from the 1980s era 2105s having timing-belt driven motors that are prone to tearing prematurely. $1000 buys you a nice solid driver, as little as $250 buys a runner that needs a lot of work (parts cost little).

  • avatar
    don1967

    Saw a guy the other day with a giant grey beard that would make Karl Marx jealous. He looked disheveled as he piloted his Ural motorcycle through city traffic, and it got me wondering what sort of vehicle he drives in the winter.
    Now I know.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    “It’s most impressive what car companies can do (or not do) when regulations aren’t standing in the way.”

    I’m curious, what are we supposed to find impressive about it? It’s an old and outdated vehicle still in production. It’s a curiosity to be sure, but not really an accomplishment.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    I wonder, can you get brake parts for this UAZ at autozone?

  • avatar
    A4kev

    Yes I can proudly state that I bought a shiny new Lada in 1983. 1 month before Korean Air Lines Flight 007 oh joy.Anyway it was a very robust vehicle and fun to drive – Fiat bloodline.I ran it about 100k miles and by then I’d saved up enough money to buy my first house.At the time I paid <3k.If I recall a Corolla was about double the price.
    Only major issue was the starter motor was nestled in the exhaust manifold, would overheat and seize it requiring a cool down, except when it was -35 C.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Nice as a concept, but it tops out at about 60 mph on the highway.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Faster than a ‘mog then.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I think Slavuta above stated this was inspired by Jeeps that were left behind. Was this a backwards engineered vehicle? The first thing I thought when it rolled across the feed is that it bore a strong resemblance to a Jeep.

    *Caveat being I don’t know Jeeps well enough to make an informed opinion on the similarities or dissimilarities thereof.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      GAZ-64 – GAZ-67 – GAZ-69 – UAZ-469

      Note that during evolution of this car, production moved from one manufacturer to another.
      Set your subtitles translation and enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyFulmYr8go

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