It was 1973. The world vibrated by hippie movement. Beeing not drunk, stoned od having less then two STD´s meant you were totally out. Rolling stones issued legendary song Angie. Pink floyd introduced the most important ambum ever – Tha dark side of the Moon. Two brothers, electricians, Angus and Malcom Young set ACDC. Mike Oldfield issued Tubular Bells. Aerosmith, Kiss and Bruce Springsteen started their carrers. The Doors launched their first Best of. The legendary event – Woodstock, famous by easy access to drugs and STD´s enjoyed over 600 000 people.
NASA launced Pioneer 11, the first probe, followed by the first satellite – Skylab. Martin Cooper set a Motorola company and invented the first cell phone. Kaddafi in Lybia started his totalitian régime. Pinochet with his junta started to control Chille. Americans leaved Vietnam.
Syria and Egypt attacked Izrael, which defended successfully. As an result OPEC decresed oil extraction and banned oil export to countries suported Izrael. That is why the first oil crisis with an dramatic effect on automotive industriy begun.
There was issued an Solzenicyn´s novel The Gulag archipelago in the western coutries. Comrades were not OK with it..
What was the situation in Czech republic that time? Not happy. Communist régime was behind the rudder.
How does the automotive industry looked like?
Oil crisis struggled suddenly with dramatic effect on automotive industry. Fuel consumption was no more irrelevant. Muscle and Ponny car era had finished. Camaros, Mustangs, Thunderbirds and similar were changed dramatically. Lost balls.
What was situation in old good Europe? Jaguar introduced XJ MK II. Apart from that produced Mk III E type, the most beautifull car ever made. And in that 3rd evolution this jewel was accetably reliable.
Mercedes was selling the first generetion of S classe (W116), setting an standard for limousine for „better people". BMW was selling a legend 3.0 CSL. And we really do not need to write about jewels from Italy like Lamborghini Countach.
And which car could you buy in the Czech repubic?
Skoda 100, Lada VAZ 2101, Moskvic, Zaporozec (that one was extraordinary terrible), Wartburg, Trabant and further sad product of central controlled economy.
Beeing loayal to the rotten communist régime and reaching the top floor of commerad´s structures by rectal alpinism and denoucement set your communist rotten ass into Tatra 603. Actually, it was the only car from eastern block, which was comparable or better then capitalist competitors. In 1967 Tatra 603 won the first and the second place in Marathon de la Route in Nurburgring. Humiliated rivals and drove back on its own wheels to the Czech republic after the race had finished. Air cooled V8 worked great.
And beeing a huge red communist rat ment driving Gaz 13 Cajka, a russian coppy of US imperialists made Packard.
Why do I write and you read all this stuff? Becouse in 1973 our rally car was born.
It was made in Uljanovskij avtammabilnyj zavod, Uljanovsk, Russia. The factory itself was build in 1941 in banks of river Volha. Comerad Stalin needed to move an key factory further north – east out of reach of fanatized Germans. Because of existing infrastructure and mild climate (considering Russia)this region was his first choice.
Technically, our rally car come out form UAZ 450 and GAZ 469. It inherited from the first a basic architecture (driver seat on the front axle, engine is between driver and co-driver). This technology is nowadays applied on all racing cars. Lorries, for example. The second mentioned was donor of engine and 4 wheels drive system.
Russians evaluated it´s aggresive and dynamic design with an cool nickname. Buchanka. It doesn´t mean Eagle, Warrior, Hawk, Winner, Great sized – dick and balls guy od Rumbler, as you suppose. It means loaf of bread. Some people find it simiar, I don´t know why...
Our model is made from 1965 to....wait for it.....today!!! Obviously, 2018´model had many crucial innovations comparing to our 1973´s one. Do not underestimate russians! For sample new mirrors or doorhandles. As an option you can order your brand new Buchanka apart of obligatory trendy military green similar to color of children´s diarrhea.
Our car is powered by mighty R4 2445 ccm. Would you expect power similar like other competitors with similary dimensioned engine had in 70´s.? No way, comerads! Our dragster has 72Hp. Used to. Says a Russian mechanic, who built that car. Used to, in 1973. Some horses died since that time, some escaped and the rest are old and tired. Considering weigh of 2 tons and aerodynamics like a brick, Buchanka has a overwhelming dynamics. As a proof you can consider fact, that we are always in the leading position. Of all conwoys.
Acceleration 0-100 Km/h (0-60 MPH) is not listed in documentation. Maybe because Buchanka can´t reach that speed according to technical specification. Actually can. By free fall. Practically, we did 102 Km/h (GPS verified) once. But it was thanks conformity of circumstancess (downhill, rear wind and pretty strong anals sphincters of pilot and copilot). It was an unique performance, with no ambition for repeat. Because those circumstances (especially the last listed) are not together frequently.
Our car clearly belongs to racing car family with its fossil fuel consuption. I don´t talk about petrol, Buchanka can ride on every flamable liquid. Technical certificate talks about 25-28L/100km. There were no euro norms, so they listed summer and wintee consumption. The winter on ice even higher. With a new recent carburator we can bring the consumption near 15l/100km
Architecture of chasis is as simple as possible. Two solid axles, crank shaft thickness of weightlifter´s forearm, central diff, low speed reduction. Rear axle driven, front one connectable.
Front wheel drive connection is realised manually. By massive lever. Power needed to handle this operation si similar like fighting a bear. Success rate is slightly higher. NO need for visual control, the act is signalized by loud iron – sound bang and whole car shakes like a wet dog. Sometimes you need to move car slightly forward and backward to enable cogwheels set into proper position. Invaluable in difficult situation while offroading. Low speed reduction operates the similar way. Chasis has an incredible fun facotor, because sometimes stuck in low speed 4x4 position. So dynamic abilities of car rapidly get worse. On the other hand, fuel consuption increases into lorry or tank level.
Suspension si realized by leaf springs. Buchanka has no shock absorbers (!) There are two possible reasons. They forgot to put it there, or, official one – dumping is realized with friction between leafs. After personal experience we must say, that the second explanation is nonsense.
Combination of those advanced technical solutions gives Buchanka unique handling abilities. You feel like riding on drunk, fat, overheated pig. If you suffer with seasickness, don´t buy this vehicle.
On the other hand, if you drive over a speed bump or a man, you have no information about if from behind of steering wheel. Whole car swings and shakes permanently.
That chasis architecture is nowadays still in use. In vehicles with high demands in cornering. For example diggers and trailer tows.
What about Buchanka´s electronic equippement? All capitalist competitors had plenty of electronic devices onboard. For example, Chevrolet Impala had airbag as a standard. In 1973. This is another Buchanka´s amenity. There ale kilometers of wires in modern cars. So, kilometers of chance for failure. There is no place for failure in Buchanka. Because there si no electronic equipment at all. The only things, which needs electricity to operate are spark plugs and lights. And the biggest highlight, literally, the central roof light, is operating manually with an handle similar to handle in public Kyiv´s toilettes. Weĺl apreciate it while finding spot to build our camp.
Our Buchanka is equipped by an special system for detecting depth of watter, you are passing through. If the water level reach aproximatelly 5 cm above levels of knees of an standard russian guy (Communist, alcoholic, 175 cm high, 3% of vodka in blood), nothing happens. If the level rises to the level of gentleman´s sausage (again, we are talking about standardly developed man), water leaks through a specially designed treshold hole to the space, where driver´s feet are. And gently warn them, that it is not a good idea to continue. This act is reversible, after leaving pond is watter thanks to sofisticated systém removed out of cabin. If the water leave exceed the last described border, systém stops the engine. To let you know, that it was too much. Simply genial!
Oficially our car is able to carry driver and 8 passengers. We are not sure, if producer meant boxes with bodies cut to pieces, or urns with ashes. Really it has 6 places for sitting and none of them is comfortable.
In the mos favourite dicipline of motor journalists – describing quality of plastic on the dashboard, Buchanka plays it´s private league. Because there is no plastic on the dashboard at all. If something looks like an metal, it is metal. Apart from VW products. There is plenty of wood in Buchanka. Would you expect an precious tropic wood or wallnut wood for decorating interior? No way. There are massive boards on the floor.
And what si feeling from driving this thing? Operating forces are totally out of range normal in nowadays cars. No power steering, no power brakes. You can suffer a fracture of thumb, if you leave your thum inside of steering wheel during driving offroad. Forces getting from front wheels can hurt you badly.
Changing gears is an issue itself. You need to find proper position for specific gears. And it doesn´t mean, that specific gear is at the same place, it was used to be. You need to shake your hand like an parkinsonic and slightly push the stick to the direction, when specific gear used to be. And pray. Sometimes You need to try multiple times... Gearbox has no synchrones, so you need to push throttle twice to ballance revs between specific shafts.
And how it feels to travel with this vehicle?
The dominant feeling is probably fear and smell. Smell of an old car (and biological markers reminded after passengers, who were really scared) And the feeleing you gonna die soon.
But the most intensive is feeling of being unique. Even more, Bentley drivers can have. Driving this car means you are superhero. Everywhere. People stop you, want to talk with you and wants to have a picture with you. Even more, then you would have an ugly given disorder. Like having 3 eyes on the ass, whis is located on you body at the place, where normal people has face. Nobody mind, you are not too fast enough to pursue normal traffic...
The car has the same spirit as visiting Russia. You get plenty of terrible or even more terrible perceptions. Most of them real. But all together makes visit (ride) strongly positive and even addictive.
Why did we choose this vehicle? We didn´want modern car like Fabia, Swift, or Yaris. Those cars have no „punk" factor. And Mongol rally is full of them. We had a plan to have an car much more specialized road racing. Wartburg. But we couldn´t find any in good condition fitting our budget, meantime our team reached maximum number of 5 people. So Wartburg would be so uncomfortable.
Do you think, Buchanka was a good choice? Time and race itself will show us...