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Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ) started mass production after the war with the introduction of the off-road model GAZ-69. The Soviet alternative to the “jeep” is still known today mainly thanks to its use by the armies of the Warsaw Pact, but it was also used by hunters, geologists or rescuers. During the existence of this model, various derivatives were created, whether military, e.g. a recoilless gun tractor of 82 mm caliber or a mobile ramp for surface-to-air missiles, or civilian. Let’s recall the most interesting ones.

First prototype “worker”

The aim was to replace the wartime GAZ-67, and the task of the designers led by Grigory Moiseyevich Vasserman was to build an all-terrain vehicle of a simple design with easy conversion of the cargo space into a space for transporting people. The engine and selected structural elements from Poběda (GAZ-M-20) were to be used.

Work on it began in 1946, and the first prototype was completed a year later in October, nicknamed Truzhenik (“worker”). In the following months, more specimens were added, all eight-seaters, with a two-door body. In 1951, however, four-door, five-seater cars were also built. They participated in demanding testing, on and off the roads.

Photo: GAZ

One of the first built GAZ “Truzenik” prototypes.

The resulting GAZ-69 finally appeared in production only in 1953. It was first produced at the Gorky Automobile Plant, and a year later also at the Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant, where production was gradually moved entirely. It became a key part of the armament of the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, in which it was a standard means of transporting soldiers.

Gauze for the post office

GAZ-69 (later UAZ-69) was created in different modifications for different purposes. Primarily there were two-door and four-door variants, which outside companies could rebuild for a variety of tasks. There could have been others, but some of the intended derivatives ultimately did not see serial production. This also applies to the prototype called GAZ-19 from 1955.

Photo: GAZ

A special vehicle with only one driven axle could serve, for example, at the post office.

The prototype with a different numerical designation differed from the mass-produced model in two essential features. It had a different body in the form of a hardtop, when one prototype opted for a solution with side windows and the other for a tinned solution, and also a different drive, because the GAZ-19 lacked all-wheel drive. He could work at the post office, for example.

It was this difference that ultimately meant that the car was not produced in this form, it simply wasn’t worth it financially. In addition, the prototype was worked on at the time of the transfer of production from GAZ to UAZ, when it did not make sense to start production of a new derivative. In Ulyanovsk, they then built the UAZ-450, a famous loaf of bread, which took over the role of the intended GAZ-19.

In the mid-1950s, a special prototype for the maintenance of airfields on frozen lakes was created at the Gorky Polytechnic Institute. For these purposes, the car received special equipment, such as ice drilling equipment.

Fire and truck gas

The firefighter’s special also comes from the same period, which was even subsequently created in the Vargašin plant. It was to be used mainly for fires in hard-to-reach areas, and managed to pull a trailer with a tank and a hose.

In the second half of the fifties, the GAZ-50 was built. It was a tractor with a shortened chassis, which was used for internal purposes of the manufacturing plant in Gorky. Several of these cars were gradually built, which received unused parts left over after the production was moved to Ulyanovsk.

Photo: UAZ

UAZ 456 was a tractor for internal purposes of the production plant.

A similar car was produced at the Ulyanovsk plant. However, the car built here bore the designation UAZ-456.

Amphibious GAZ

The GAZ-46 “MAV” was also an interesting project. Despite the different number designation, this special with a waterproof pontoon body used the basis of the GAZ 69. It was an amphibious military vehicle strongly inspired by the Ford GPA concept, which was produced between 1954 and 1958, when over six hundred examples of it were built.

The 507 cm long amphibian was powered by a 2.1-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with an output of 41 kW, which was paired with a three-speed gearbox complete with a two-speed reduction and a special distribution box for driving the ship’s screw and water pump. The rear wheels were driven, with a connectable front wheel drive.

Strip GAZ

At the beginning of the 1960s, another experimental car was created at the NAMI Institute. NAMI-SZMU-023 got an extended body, with rear tracks instead of the classic rear axle with regular wheels. Thanks to this, the car was supposed to be even more capable off-road. In the end, however, only one prototype was built.