Machines such as the soldier service quickly teach to appreciate the simple and modest, invisible to many civilian goods. The motor runs smoothly, without interruptions - which means we get to where we planned. Even frail tarpaulin doors and an awning (instead of a roof) cause a feeling of momentary joy: after all, a little less than the icy wind inside …
Lovers will be able to search for topics for disputes about the Soviet "gas" and the American "Willis" for many more years. The concept of a simple, lightweight, all-wheel drive car is truly American. But the all-wheel drive scheme (albeit also with transatlantic features) was already worked out in Gorky by the end of the 1930s - on passenger cars. And here we are definitely not talking about direct copying. GAZ old-timers recalled that the American Bantam, the ideological ancestor of the Willis, they saw only in photos in magazines. Moreover, awareness of the industry leadership about Bantam did not benefit the first version of the Gazovsky car. They said that it was the People’s Commissar of Medium Engineering (the automobile industry was then subordinate to him) who insisted on a narrow gauge like the American car - 1278 mm, although wider standard bridges were available.
The task of creating a light army car was issued by the Red Army Main Armored Directorate at the end of the winter of 1941, and on March 25 GAZ-R1 (P - reconnaissance) went for testing. In August, when the Red Army fought desperately with the Wehrmacht already near Smolensk, in Gorky began mass production of the GAZ-64. The release, however, was scanty - for a year and a half less than 700 cars.
In April 1943, the car was modernized: the carburetor and some other parts were changed, the track grew to the previous 1466 mm. The latter was very important for stability and cross. The car, which received the name GAZ-67 (from 1944 - 67B), it became easier to go off-road after trucks. It is such an all-terrain vehicle, already post-war release, today in my hands.
The strength and weakness of the 67th consisted in maximum unification with serial machines. "Willis" was created from scratch. The Soviet car was designed and prepared for production in an incredibly short time. It was simple, as far as simple all-wheel drive design could be, suitable for repairs even with the hands of low-skilled locksmiths. An engine with a compression ratio of 4.6 is capable, unlike American engines, of eating even what it’s a shame to call gasoline. Willis-MV has a compression ratio of 6.48, by the way.
Well, the weakness is the heavy and old-fashioned (already at that time) controls. Again, in comparison with the American Willis. The steering wheel and pedals require serious effort, the gearbox without synchronizers, mechanical brakes of low efficiency, shock absorbers from the "emka" - single-acting. However, for non-spoiled Soviet drivers, all this was not so important. Especially if you do not try another.
Much more important, albeit not very powerful, but the high-torque motor and gear ratio of the first stage is 6.4! She compensated for the lack of a lowering row. At the first, the instruction recommended to move only in very difficult conditions or with a gun on the tail.
At the wheel of the 67th, it is tempting to show a kind of soldierly daring. The boot allows you to boldly walk where the civilian boot is afraid to step. GAZ-67 also wants to be galloped along pits and ditches. It is only necessary to hold on to the wheel more tightly and, taking off above the hard seat, do not lose the foot pedals. If you succeed, it is worth squeezing the clutch two times, shift the gear and, having announced the surroundings with a fighting roar, add speed. This is an all-terrain vehicle! All modern four-wheel drive dandies on the background of the 67th - a parody!
Until 1945, approximately 5500 pieces of the 64th and 67th were put together - a drop in the bucket against the backdrop of tens of thousands of “Jeeps” and similar “Fords” set under Lend-Lease.
Massive GAZ-67 became in the postwar years. "Gaziki" worked on collective farms and cities, served in the army and police. They were driven by all the same slightly stern, courageous drivers, squinting in the summer from dust, and in winter building homemade booths that build on top of the bodies, which at least somehow save from frost. Then the cars were decommissioned and sold to private owners: in capable hands and, of course, with later components and parts, they served for decades.
Let the majority of “Gaziks” be born after the Victory, and many, like this one, working as an actor at Mosfilm, have acquired a fair amount of non-native parts, these cars can rightfully be associated with the Great Patriotic War. As not so popular today, but to someone even seemingly worn out concepts of “courage”, “labor”, “persistence”. Today, such "gaziki", regardless of the year of release, often participate in parades dedicated to Victory Day. And they certainly deserve this honor.