UAZ For It, You Got It, With This Low-tech Russian Fever Dreamby Evan Paul
The toaster on stilts that’s been romping around Russia for the past half-century never seems to die. A product of the Soviet collective, the UAZ “Classic” commercial vehicle, formerly known as the UAZ-452, still makes an appearance on new car lots in the eastern hemisphere. Unlike the home of the Big Mac, these regions lack the law books that prevent drivers’ legs from being part of a vehicle’s framework. As a result, the beloved Bukhanka (Russian for “loaf of bread”) will leave you crawling should you encounter a bear at speed. Speed is a generous way to put it, as the big-bore 2.7 liter four coughs out a meager 112-horses. Thankfully these horses aren’t saddled with a filthy slushbox; the only way to reign them in is through a five speed manual mated to a bona-fide four wheel drive system. The transmission isn’t the only manual feature that comes standard on the UAZ Classic, though. Count on growing a pair of Popeye’s grotesque forearms should you keep those additional rubles tucked away under your ushanka, as hydraulic power steering is the sole option.
The version that tugs at my heartstrings most is simply dubbed Farmer. This agricultural namesake takes the front-heavy appearance of a cab chassis to another dimension. The three door cab with room for five sits over the engine and looks ready to faceplant at any moment. Wearing an expression of constant agony, the handsome looks of the Farmer are rounded out by a “tented platform” that’s plopped on the back of its gangly framework. Perfect for hauling potatoes or black market human organs over the roughest of landscapes, this cargo area means the Farmer can make the most of its hefty 2300+ pound payload capacity that puts some full-size Americans to shame.
Now one might ask why anyone would want an antiquated appliance like the goofy looking Farmer? The fact that it seems ready to collapse upon itself should a stray shopping cart blow too-near in a passing breeze is only part of the appeal! The exposed under-seat heater, metal dashboard, and center-mounted speedometer are brazenly resistant to modern design trends, creating an incredibly eye-catching package that’s unlike any other vehicle on the market today. Should the 25-year import rule be abolished, a new bread loaf of my own would soon be in my driveway for a menial four-digit price.