Jalopnik has always been a website that applauds—and partakes in—automotive idiocy. So it’d be almost irresponsible not to share this video from Russian YouTube channel Garage 54, as it shows the legendary military off-roader, the UAZ 469, driving on wheels made from oil drums. It’s all incredibly pointless.
The Garage 54 team uses square tubing to reinforce the oil drums prior to bolting them to the UAZ, since thin sheetmetal—especially in that cylindrical shape—isn’t going to hold up to the weight of the heavy Russian 4x4.
Then, realizing that the slippery outer surface of the cylinder isn’t likely to get traction on a road, much less on snow, the Garage 54 automotive “experimenters” bolted on some angle-iron to act as paddles.
It doesn’t work at all.
The UAZ barely budges. The tiny, thin angle-iron paddles don’t cut into the snow very deep, and they’re quite spread out, allowing the smooth metal barrel surface to make contact with the ground quite often to do very little to aid grip.
The whole thing is an entirely pointless endeavor, and the host Vlad knows it. “This was a tremendous success,” he says. “I mean to say, we failed miserably.”
Vlad never ceases to amaze me with his ability to have fun doing things that make very little sense, and that require lots of time input for very little reward. I hope he never stops.
I also hope to god he doesn’t destroy that UAZ, because it truly is an incredible machine. I had a chance to get up close and personal with one when I visited Ho Chi Minh City back in January. Look at the body-on-frame, dual-solid axle off-roader:
It’s incredibly old-school, with leaf springs all the way around, a two-level four-wheel drive system (in-out, high-low) instead of just a single lever handling two-wheel drive/four-wheel drive operation and high/low range. Plus the front axle has a “closed knuckle” design with kingpin tapered roller bearings instead of ball joints (like an old Willys Jeep—see No. 19 below).
Motor 1 goes a bit more into the details, writing in its story on the fabled Russian off-roader:
Introduced in 1971, the 469 was manufactured in Russia, Germany (2003 - 2007 as the Baijah Automotive), Cuba, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Ukraine, and even in the United States (1997 – 2005). In fact, UAZ (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) is still offering a modernized version of the model to customers, called the Hunter.
Originally, the offroader featured a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with 71 horsepower (56 kilowatts), mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox and a permanent all-wheel drive. The unit was able to run on gasoline with octane rating as low as 72.
The Hunter, launched in 2010, is offered with an optimized 2.7-liter engine with 128 hp (94 kW) and 148 pound-feet (201 newton meters) of torque at 2,500 rpm. The four-speed transmission was replaced by a newer five-speed gearbox. There’s also a 2.2-liter diesel unit with 114 hp (84 kW) and a better fuel efficiency.
The styling, simplicity, and especially that great seating layout for seven passengers makes me a huge fan. Even if it can’t drive on snow when it has oil barrels bolted to its hubs.