Thursday, 5 January 2017

I am crazy

To substantiate the assertion, here above is pictured an example of my second preferred car (among the ones that I have driven extensively).

Behold, yeh fickle westerner, the mighty UAZ 469B.

If you look in youtube, you may find Jeremy Clarkson ditching it as the most horrible car in the world.

As I commented there, that mainly says us that Clarkson is a bit of a pussy driver.

1600+ kg (say, 3600 lbs) of 4x4 without servo steering? Just a bit stiff in parking, that's all.

The Ford Transit didn't have it either, when I used to overcharge it while working as a mason (ah, no more drifting on the ice with a full charge of sand... youth fades away and does not come back, indeed).

I managed to steer that, and this car proved no major challenge (though, I might have slightly sprained my left shoulder once, steering the UAZ with one hand while parking).

It had drum brakes that oxidized differently, so much so that,  after a week of parking rest, if one forgot to clear them (by driving & braking for a couple of hundred meters, applying a modicum of brakes with the left foot and full throttle with the right) chances were that at the first hard brake it would steer itself sideways (mine, toward the left).

Brakes were virtually inexistent, at any speed above 70 km/h (realistically, its max safe speed... for a certain definition of safety).

The clutch spring was so stressed that disengaging it felt like serious workout - it was to be expected from a 65 hp Russian petrol being replaced by a 103hp VM turbodiesel... Alfa Romeo used double disc clutches, for its Type 116 sedans with that same engine and the Giulietta Turbodelta, but Martorelli didn't bother to use such a refined approach and simply tightened the screws of the clutch thrust plate.

Its used a no-synchronizers gearbox, that obliged to learn double-clutching (with that clutch) on a turbo-diesel. That, too, was a nice detail.

Its ride was so tall that one could see over the roofs of Mistubishi Pajeros and their ilk (even being just my 5'8").

It rode on four leaf springs and two live axles... sweetly so.

In 2x4 mode (mandatory on tarmac), it fishtailed on wet road, even simply negotiating a rotatory intersection at 30 km/h (20 mph).

It had no seat belts, no crumple zones nor any other sissy occidental  things like airbags.

You have an accident, you die, simple as that - I found it refreshing.  

What makes me crazy, was that I liked to take this Death Machine, and going at 110km/h on the highway (flat out, with the engine near over-rev... not that there was any way to know it, as it had no tachometer).

Which is 10 km/h below the local speed limit, and about 40 km/h above its sensible max speed (debatable... my family thought that its max sensible speed was - parked).

On the other hand, if one used it for what it was really designed - slinging around in middle level off-road, with its 4x4 engaged and a set of good grip tires - it was a very competent machine...

I still miss it.

Because, tiring as it was, harsh as it was, it was so much fun that I always went flat out with that thing (sometimes, flat out meant at 50 km/h... 10 more than what would have been  sensible).

With it, going slightly below speed limits usually meant speeding like a raving crazy.

Alas, now I am reduced to much more humble drives, things that I cannot drive nowhere near as fast as to communicate any emotion whatsoever (I have the 2 litre version of something, whose 6 litres engined examples were still considered extremely stable, ourgh)...

But, it is probable true that I am still here also because the UAZ is not around any more.

Oh, swell, we must as well all die for some reason, no? Some day, I'll buy another one...


When things get rough, you need reducing gears, not trip computers.

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