The Glorious UAZ 452… Story of Russian military vehicle

This is an honest love story! In the hearts and minds of a certain group of Adventurers, this amazing piece of Russian ingenuity is like a work of art… maybe a sculpture of sorts… and for those in this group of worshipers the name is only uttered reverently in whispers of love and admiration and true devotion.

What Russian Artwork? What is this mysterious object of so much love?



A Miracle of Evolution in Transportation.

Conqueror of dirt goat paths through wilderness forests, swimmer of wild torrent streams, plodder of mud holes and rutted roads, climber of rocky and hilly terrain, and skier of the snowy and frozen Northern tundra.

Our Story Begins With A Problem

Russia was faced with a problem. It was the time of World War Two and her armies were fighting a scattered war on two continents over vast distances with a myriad of transportation and supply difficulties.

Understand that within Russia one can travel East to West across 14 time zones, and South to North covering climates from blistering Deserts to the frozen Arctic and traveling without real roads under the tires most of the time.

There was a strange belief at that time that the men needed to eat and keep warm, and if injured to be removed from the battlefield to a safe place. But more importantly, the army needed weapons and ammunitions and they also needed critical supplies to support their war efforts. The problem was simply how to do this across vast distances and wildly inhospitable climates and terrains.

A vehicle was needed that would be able to haul heavy loads, provide warmth and shelter to men, climb mountains and swim rivers, drive over rocks and boulders and dig through muddy bogs. It had to run on anything from gasoline to diesel fuel to cooking oil to grape jam. It had to be high enough to clear the rocks and bridge the gaps, and be sturdy enough to take the punishment of those crazy weather and geological challenges.

UAZ 452 Russian military van
Offroading in the middle of nowhere

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UAZ soviet jeep or just Russian military vehicle

In reality, a Miracle was needed!

A miracle is born! As a result, the Ulyanovsk Car Factory or just UAZ received a special task to design such a Russian military vehicle. At the time, UAZ was already producing GAZ 69, another iconic car of the Soviet era. Comprehensive inception, elaboration, and construction were not working concepts in the 40's, a time when the authorities and the war effort really needed something. So UAZ, without any hesitation just used the basic design of the GAZ 69 as a base for a new type of soviet car but added the newly needed design and construction elements. Brilliant!

All of the best ideas used in this case are very simple. Designers just took a flat frame, added the engine and other necessary details from GAZ 69, and then they placed a special body there. The Maxivan was born. It was named affectionately UAZ 452. Why? Nobody seems to know or really care.

Robust. Simple. Cheap. The resulting van was impressive!

For a VERY affordable price, people (and army!) could get some kind of a mobile shack… a shed… a shelter and a wagon with four wheels. What an amazing invention of Soviet genius! With such a maxivan you can steal (or, as it usually happens, just find and take away) almost 800 kg of goods and chattels!

In the 50's, UAZ started to commercially massproduce such a Wonder of the Soviet automobile industry. In the 60's, the Russian military vehicle got some face lifting which finally made it into what we call «a loaf of bread». Years passed but the soviet jeep is so amazingly well built, sturdy, and good looking, that its appearance hasn’t changed for the last 50+ years… I envy that kind of evolution. Really!

Maybe it was unfortunate that the engineers made some changes in recent years. They were so concerned about having a modern and state-of-art engine and other devices that they added a fifth speed to its mechanical gearbox (as you can guess, it was several years ago). They even provided the driver with a soft new hydraulic booster!

We've bought our UAZ van in 2012, so it still has only 4 speeds and no booster… Unfortunately, the design engineers also considerably worsened the engine: now it cannot use any liquid as a fuel, it only uses gasoline now (Au-92). No more grape Jelly!

Moreover, the modern UAZ 452 van has a Euro-5 engine that would allow it to drive into the center of Berlin (which is not so urgent compared to WWII times…) Combining with the Russian-quality gasoline, some parts of the engine turn into small a nuclear reactor on a regularly basis.

Why it's so popular?

Combined with four-wheel drive, UAZ 452 «Loaf of bread» was born to endure any off-road condition! It can drive through 40-cm snow cover and get over the loaded URAL tracks. Nine men can be comfortably seated inside this soviet era jeep – and nine men can push it out of any mire! What a unique cross-country ability for a maxivan!

Why it's still being produced today (does a duck swim?) There are NO, and there will be any equivalent in the world. So cheap, so robust, so simple. Targeted audience (local rednecks, hunters and other anglers…) are happy about it!

As a bonus, UAZ package was completed with a total and absolute invisibility for the road police. Even yellow bumper and front mirrors didn't change it. The single exception is a girl driving the van (even in this case, the road police don't check the documents; they just watch the strange girl).

And the last and greatest advantage? In the case of some fatal problems resulting in the death of the van, you can always change the van for a new one? (No, guys, it's not the iPhone!) A retired UAZ 452 makes a lovely home for pets or farm animals. You can easily just settle pigs and chickens there! For me? I’m thinking of a making it into a Dacha house if mine ever dies.

Good luck!!!

by Irina Terenteva
UAZ 452 soviet era car