UAZ Anniversary

Posted: September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

A Brief(ish) History of UAZ

Prior to 1929, the Soviet automotive industry was almost non-existent. One “auto manufacturer” was the Russo-Balt Waggon Works, located in Riga. Russo-Balt did not design their own vehicles, instead they assembled vehicles from parts purchased abroad. Most notably, Russo-Balt produced a light truck through an agreement with the Fiat Motor Company of Italy. The only other producer of vehicles in the Soviet Union until 1930 was AMO, located in Moscow. The Avtomobilnoe Moskovskoe Obshchestvo (AMO), or Moscow Automobile Society, was opened in 1917, just prior to the Revolution. Until 1924, however, the plant only engaged in repair work. Then, AMO assembled trucks under license through Fiat.

Truck assembly at AMO in 1927.

In 1927, Stalin unveiled his first Five-Year Plan. Within this strategy for industrialization, Stalin made provision for the annual production of 3,500 automobiles. Stalin focused the expansion of the automotive production on two projects: the expansion of AMO and the creation of a new automotive plant. Both of these projects were to rely on foreign assistance. On May 24, 1929, a agreement was made between AMO and the Arthur J. Brandt Company of the United States. In the deal, Brandt was to spend two years reorganizing and upgrading AMO with the goal of producing 25,000 Ford 2.5 ton trucks annually. The factory closed and was reopened on October 1, 1931. Additionally, the factory was renamed ZIS (Zavod Imeni Stalina, Factory in the name of Stalin). A short time later, the factory began designing a luxury limousine that would be worthy of bearing the name of the Soviet leader. These imposing and lavish limousines were modeled off of American Packards, Lincolns, and Cadillacs.


ZIS also produced a larger truck, the ZIS-5, that was a copy of the American Autocar model CA light truck. In the fall of 1941, the Soviet leadership moved the ZIS factory to Ulyanovsk for protection. Production of the ZIS-5 started in the spring of 1942 in Ulyanovsk. In 1943, the Soviets decided to leave the ZIS factory in Ulyanovsk and to rebuild the factory in Moscow from the original plans and with the addition of repossessed German technology. Independent from ZIS, the factory became UAZ (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod or Ulyanovsk Automotive Factory).


In 1958, UAZ began to produce its own, independently developed vehicles. In 1965, UAZ began producing the UAZ-452, which in a slightly updated form is produced to this day. The factory began producing its other iconic and long-running model, the UAZ-469, in 1972. In addition to the updated examples of the preceding two models, UAZ also produces three models for civilian use. Since December of 2003, UAZ has produced the UAZ-Hunter, a modernized, civilian version of the UAZ-469. In 2005, UAZ began the production of the affordable and adept off-roader, the UAZ-Patriot. Since 2008, UAZ has also manufactured the UAZ-Pickup.


70 Years of UAZ

On September 17, 2011, the city of Ulyanovsk celebrated the 70th anniversary of UAZ. In the center of the city, on Lenin Square, there was a display of UAZ products and various other festivities. Except for the UAZ-469, all of the major models of UAZ vehicles were represented in the display. There was a ZIS-5 from the time period of the Second World War, or Great Patriotic War as it is known in Russia.

Sitting in a ZIS-5. Life is good in Ulyanovsk.

The example of the UAZ-452 was painted and equipped for one of its more common roles, an ambulance.

Despite the side of the vehicle saying, "Quick Medical Help," these vehicles always move at a snail's pace.

Of the modern, civilian models, the UAZ-Hunter and UAZ-Pickup were present.


Inside, the UAZ-Pickup was a comfortable and reasonably well-equipped vehicle, even though it lacked a radio.

Heat, AC, cup-holder, and a cigarette lighter - yes. Sadly there was no radio, or attempt to hide where it should go.

It also appears to be a promising off-road vehicle. It comes with a 5-speed manual transmission. Showing its true off road-characteristics, it has a selection of 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive options usually only found on true off-road vehicles such as Jeeps, Land Rovers, Range Rovers, and the Mercedes G-Klasse.

5-speeds and a slew of 2- and 4-wheel drive options.

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