UAZ, which stands for “Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant” in Russian, was founded in the year 1941.
A direct result of Hitler’s infamously unsuccessful invasion of the Soviet Union, the Russian automaker ZiL, manufacturer of military vehicles and limousines, needed to relocate away from Moscow.
By 1942, the plant was producing heavy artillery shells and ZiL automobiles. By 1944, however, ZiL moved production elsewhere.
UAZ began producing the GAZ-AA, a GAZ-licensed version of the Ford Model AA truck in 1947. In 1948, UAZ built a prototype truck known as the UAZ-300. Weighing in 1.5 tonnes, it had a dismal fifty horsepower engine from the GAZ Podeba. Its styling was strikingly similar to that of the early Ford F100. This vehicle never went into production.
THE GAZ-69, UAZ-469, and Buhanka
By 1954, the UAZ plant began producing the GAZ-69, a light, Jeep-like military vehicle. That same year, the created their own design office, becoming more than just an assembler of other people’s vehicles.
In 1955, as per requested by the Red Army, UAZ designed a prototype for a cabover truck, based on the GAZ-69. This became the infamous UAZ 450 series, lovingly nicknamed the Buhanka, or ‘Bread Loaf’.
This was put into production in 1958, and is still in production today with some mechanical and aesthetic changes and variations. The GAZ-69 stayed in production until 1972, when it was replaced by the UAZ-469. It remains in production today along with the Buhanka.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, UAZ became a joint-stock company. It received many awards for its contributions to Russian society. In August of 1997, the all new UAZ-3160 went into production. This was the basis for the later UAZ Simbir and and UAZ-3163.
In 2003, UAZ opened a factory in Vietnam. This facility produced the final UAZ-31512 and the first UAZ Hunter.
In 2005, the first UAZ Patriots were built. These were the first completely new UAZ models since the fall of the USSR. Later in the decade, many new options were added to UAZ vehicles.
These included modernized climate control, better engine cooling, and improved motor oils. Two licensed IVECO diesel engines were introduced to the lineup. In 2012, a new ‘Euro-4’ motor was introduced to the Patriot and Buhanka. This was designed by UAZ subsidary ZMZ.
Today, UAZ manufactures the Patriot, Hunter, and Buhanka, and several variations of these models. With a steady increase in sales, UAZ is living proof of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”