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How we built the UAZ. Backstage

Nov 23, 2017

In spring 2017 we decided to buy an UAZ 452 Buhanka as our business is growing and we didn’t want to depend on rental cars. UAZ is a Russian 4WD van which has very good off-road characteristics but usually a bit poor and not comfortable interior. So, the idea was to buy a second-hand car and upgrade its salon up to our needs with necessary comfort for tourists.

So early July we bought it, after looking for some weeks on the internet. We searched the web but we found out that selecting a car from some pictures does not work.

As Jaap was flying to Novosibirsk and arrived early in the morning, we had chosen two interesting cars to look at in that city. Unfortunately, the cars looked much better on pictures than in reality. So, we looked again on the internet, a car that actually didn’t make the cut earlier due to the lack of seats came back in the picture. After some discussion, we decided to make an offer that was happily accepted.

In the evening we drove back to Barnaul. During the trip, we found one problem. According to the car, it was driving about 85km/hr but according to the Montero the Buhanka was only driving 60km/hr. It was due to the tyres, there were 205/75/r15 mounted, which are actually for a Lada Niva or similar. Although the tyres are quite new, we will replace them with 31”tyres or so.

Next thing was looking for more seats. Our plan is to put in 6 seats, and install them in such a way that nobody drives backwards. After looking around we found some second hand original UAZ seats quite cheap.

We visited a shop specialized in UAZ where we bought new interior, sides and ceiling, and some plastic caps to cover some not nice parts. A new sidemirror for 200 rub and a new keylock and we could start with the building.

But first to our next appointment at the workshop. This guy is specialized in UAZ and very nice. He checked quickly our car and told us it was a good buy but it would need some work.

At the end of the day we could pick up the car from the workshop. We had a long talk with the owner of the workshop. We also found out that a lot of locals like it very much that some crazy Dutch guy was driving an UAZ, we got discounts in several places even without asking for it.

What else did we buy, well a lot: a window for the roof, new covers for the seats, windows, plastic caps for the fuellines in the salon, some extra fuses as there are almost none installed, isolation, sunshades, foam for the ceiling, and cover for the wall that we will put between cabin and cargo part.

The guys in the UAZ store know us very well now 😀

The old, original windows were leaking, so we had to solve it. The most leakages were on the moving parts of the windows. After some searching we found very nice sliding windows.

The new ceiling was mounted, together with the sunroof – to get some more airflow in the car (it can be hot in Siberia too :D) and to have some more light.

Besides, we made heat and noise isolation as the engine of UAZ is inside, between the front seats. On the isolation layer we put self-adhesive carpet.

After that we started with mounting the new sidepanels. Although the model of this car is over 50 years old, it seems that every car is unique. So we had to customize every panel to fit it properly.

We replaced The UAZ’s interior completely, and as we will take guests with us, we needed to have enough seats of course. For now we will mount only 5 seats. For the sixth place we are looking for a folding chair, but this is only needed later.

During the trip we had to do some repairs as we expected, but it is an UAZ of course 😀

After the trips we evaluated the UAZ and found a lot of things we still want/have to change.

  1. Motor upgrade so it will run a lot better on 92, as it is now for 80. We hope to get some more power out of it.
  2. Replace the carburator for a more efficiënt model
  3. Replace the shocks as they are completely gone
  4. Repair or replace the gearbox, it is not-synchronised and second gear is horror
  5. A lot of small stuff….

For now we have put the UAZ in the garage, so it will survive the Siberian winter.

Next year we will have a lot of fun again with it.

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