POLISH ARMY BIKES
history of the GAZ 69.
history of the motor industry in Gorki began in 1932 with the
licence to manufacture the Ford A. GAZ A was the first Russian
built passenger car. Actually the very first units were called
NAZ, because until 1932 the town was named Nizhnyj Novogrod.
Within only four years of production they built 41.917 units. In
1935 the first home-built GAZ M-1 was introduced. From 1936 the
factory carried the name of the then Russian prime minister W. M.
(Click on the name if you want to know more about his shameful
achievements). In 1940 they developed a new version of the M-1:
the GAZ 61-40 with four-wheel-drive and open four-door 'phaeton'
body. Early 1941 saw the first Soviet 'jeep' – GAZ 64. A
group of enthusiasts built the prototype literally within just
two months. The production started in the summer that year. It
looked very much like it's successor GAZ 67 (picture on the
left), which came into the production in 1943. With it's
4-cylinder, 3.3 litre, 54 bhp engine and a weight of 1320 kg (26
cwt) the vehicle was well underpowered, however it remained in
the production till 1953 and about 100.000 units were made. It
was superseded by our main hero: the GAZ 69.
click this link to see whole history of the GAZ
factory on my
classic cars website.
of the sources state the beginning of the GAZ 69 in 1954.
However, here, on the left is a picture that I found in Polish
magazine 'Motor' from December 1952.
Design of the GAZ 69
started in Gorki in 1946. Unlike it's predecessor the new truck
was designed slowly and carefully. By 1948 twelve prototypes
called 'Truzenik' were ready to be tested in various condi-tions
across USSR. Some of them covered over 100.000 km (62.000 miles).
Quite unusual by Russian standards those days. Unfortunately the
other new GAZ vehicles, the M 20 passenger car and the GAZ 51 and
53 trucks took priority and the project was delayed. There were
some prototypes with differential locks, but they were considered
to be too complicated and haven't been approved for the
The limited production began in 1952 and next
year, in July the GAZ 69 replaced the GAZ 67 on the assembly
is a direct translation of the article from the Polish magazine
'Motor' of early 1953.
A NEW ALL-TERRAIN RUSSIAN VEHICLE
Motor Factory in Gorki started a production of new passenger cars
that are capable of off-road use – GAZ 69. The vehicle is
produced as a five-passenger (img. 2) and eight-passenger (img.
The eight-passenger version can also be used to carry 500
kg of cargo. Both types can tow a trailer up to 500 kg.
major part of the vehicle can be easily removed. For example:
within 45 minutes a driver working alone can remove the gearbox,
or the transfer box, and removing the engine with the clutch and
gearbox will take him only 1.5 hours.
The engine used in the
GAZ 69 is almost identical to the one used in GAZ M 20 Pobieda
(Victory) passenger car but it is equipped with an oil cooler and
a shutter that allow the driver to maintain the engine
temperature depending on the weather and driving conditions. GAZ
69 is built using 60% of the parts used in other vehicles built
in Gorki. The engine, clutch, gearbox, prop-shaft joints, track
rod ends, heater, axles gear, brake master cylinder, the whole
ignition system and many more were taken from the GAZ M 20. From
the GAZ 51 truck the steering wheel, engine coolant pre-heating
torch, head lights, rear light, light switch, fuel filter, oil
cooler etc. The differential gear was taken from the ZIM M 12.
All new are the chassis, transfer box, front and rear axles, and
Low gear ratio can't be engaged if the front diff is
disengaged and the front drive can't be disengaged if the low
ratio is still engaged. That prevents the rear axle gear from
So far the experimental GAZ 69s have covered more
than 100.000 km (62.000 miles).
Top speed is 90 km/h (56 mph)
and 30-40 km/h (19-25 mph) off road.
The vehicle can climb up
a 30% incline and up a 20% incline with a trailer.
vehicle can be used widely, in small villages to service local
communities, on national farms. It can be also used by the
national post and small cooperatives for carrying small cargo and
geological research. (!?)
factory in Gorki suffered from a lack of space to accommodate the
wide range of their production vehicles, which in the mid-50's
contained M-20 and ZIM M-12 passenger cars, the newly introduced
M-21 Volga and several types of trucks. During 1955 and 1956 (the
process actually started in December 1954) the production of
GAZ-69 was gradually moved into a new factory in Ulianovsk and
the last vehicle was built in Gorky in January 1956. That's when
GAZ 'double personality' life began. Although it carried the new
factory name on the bonnet – UAZ (Ulianovskij Avtomobilnyj
Zavod), it was still known as GAZ. It stayed like that to the
very end of it's life in 1973. At the turn of 1960's and 1970's
the Russians were trying to export them to Western Europe, still
calling them GAZ 69.
some lovely brochures of those on my classic cars website click
the very beginning of his career he gained the nickname 'Kozlik'
– a little male goat.
GAZ 69 was made in two versions:
two-door eight-passenger (or two plus cargo) and four-door five
passenger. Not many changes were made during the production
period. The only improvement was to increase of the engine
capacity from 2.1 to 2.4 litre, which gave it 10 more brake horse
power. Those were designated GAZ-69M and 69AM and built mainly
for export. A few types of carburettors were used and some
vehicles had the ignition system shielded against radio
interference (GAZ-69E). Before 1970 there was only one rear
window in the canvas top, then two additional windows appeared on
each side. This version called GAZ 69-68 had also front
free-wheel hubs and stronger axles.
Leaf spring suspension
with arm-type shock absorbers, side-valve underpowered engine and
manually adjustable drum brakes stayed on till the end of the
Interestingly GAZ-69 never had factory-fitted
outside mirrors. That's why they are different on almost every
vehicle. As far as I know the company never made any hard-tops.
Those we can see today are all 'aftermarket' or DIY built.
were several interesting vehicles based on the GAZ 69. Probably
the first one was 1952 GAZ-46
It was an amphibious army vehicle inspired by American Ford GPA.
Another one was the
from 1955 to 1958 in Gorki. An ancestor to all modern comfortable
cross-terrains, this car combined the chassis of the 69 and the
body of the M-20 Pobieda. 4.677 were made.
GAZ 19 with an
estate type hard top body had two windows on each side and
two-wheel drive. It was built for use by the post office, but it
remained a prototype only.
There were also plenty of other
modifications built for special duties: radio station, fire
engine, street sweeper, crane, anti-tank rocket gun and even a
police car with a hard top and built in prison cell, etc.
pictures of all those versions look at this Russian
developed some interesting vehicles based on the GAZ-69M. The van
UAZ-450, the ambulance UAZ-450A and the pick-up truck UAZ-450D.
They had the same engines, chassis and suspensions as the 69,
just the bodies were different obviously inspired by the Jeep
Forward Control. The van had 750 kg of load capacity. The
ambulance could accommodate four stretchers or six seating
patients, two paramedics and a driver. The truck could carry up
to 800 kg of cargo. Different wheels (8.40x15 vs. 6.5x16) were
They went into production in 1958, four years
before the first Land Rover Forward Control.
1962 UAZ introduced an entirely new model called UAZ-460 with
overhead-valve 70 b.h.p. engine and modern four-door,
five-passenger, soft-top body. In an article glorifying the
achievements of the Russian motor industry, Polish magazine
'Motor' stated that this vehicle was already in production, along
with vans, ambulances and pick-ups! It wasn't. It took another
ten years before the vehicle got onto the assembly line. Why? You
have to understand how the Russian economy worked in those days.
The whole motor industry was managed by the ministry of industry
and the factory needed permission and funds from them. The
authorities were more focused on developing trucks and lorries
needed for the economy. The old 69 had to carry on with his
duties for another decade.
A photograph taken in Ulianovsk probably around 1967 or 1968. Half millionth GAZ/UAZ 69 is leaving the factory.
Many thanks to Matteo Iannizzotto for this picture.
January 1972 the GAZ 69 finally retired. The last 275 trucks left
the factory in Ulianovsk. The new model gained the 'green light'
and after ten years of development was put into production as
UAZ-469. Relatively modern but simple, with 2.4 litre,
overhead-valve engine and telescopic shock absorbers it quickly
become even more popular then it's predecessor. But this is
634.285 examples of all modifications
UAZ.GAZ-69A – 230.185
and 69M – 10.551
were supplied to all Eastern European armies, exported to 56
countries and were also built in North Korea under licence as
The most famous however is Romanian ARO. They
bought the licence for the truck without the engine and gear box
and decided to use a locally built unit instead. The first model
called IMS 57 was introduced in 1957 and used a 1933 (!) Ford,
four-cylinder, 3260 cc, 50 bhp engine with compression ratio
4.6:1. It differed from the GAZ in many details, having the spare
wheel mounted on the driver side rear corner, small storage
compartments behind the rear wheels with access from outside,
bench type front seat, dashboard located in the middle of the
fascia and lacking of the transfer box. The bodies were made by
hand, by hammering flat steel sheets on wooden blocks.
improvement was made in 1959 by using a completely new
four-cylinder engine derived from pre-war V8 Ford and a new body,
this time made from pressed steel. Although it looked the same as
GAZ 69 with the spare wheel mounted between the driver door and
the rear wheel arch, none of the body parts were exchangeable.
This model called IMS 59 stayed in pro-duction until 1964, when
the new M461 was launched. It had a new engine based (copied?) on
the French Saviem with 70 bhp. Even without the transfer box the
new truck had excellent off-road capabilities. There were also
over 80 improvements, including suspension, brakes, chassis,
steering and body. This model is easy distinguishable by having a
one-piece wind screen and rigid door window pillars. 80,233 units
were built till 1975, 58% of which were exported. There were also
diesel powered versions available on some markets.