In a narrow, cramped museum hall, where Izhevsk cars of different years snuggled side to side, the first, at the door itself, was a tall, slightly angular car. However, thirty years ago it looked quite modern, although it was quite unusual. The career of IL-14 was just beginning, and on the way to the conveyor, of course, it would have been "ennobled". But for a place in the sun the Izhevsk all-terrain vehicle had to fight not only with the Niva, but also with … a tank. This battle, of course, he lost …
The Izhevsk Automobile Plant is considered the brainchild of D.F. Ustinov - Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, candidate member of the Politburo, and later - Minister of Defense of the USSR. He did not really approve of the construction of a giant in Togliatti - he believed that it was necessary to increase the production of cars more economically. At the same time with VAZ, on the initiative of Ustinov, they decided to build a plant in Izhevsk, where at the side of a huge defense enterprise they had to make analogues of AZLK models.
The decision to create the Izhevsk Automobile was made on June 25, 1965, and in August a design bureau (the so-called GKB-88) was created, headed by Nikolai Ivanovich Slesarenko and his deputy Vladimir Aramaisovich Abrahamyan. They decided to rely on young specialists, most of whom came to the new plant in the hope of getting interesting work in promising projects. Already in the late 1960s, in Izhevsk, they began to design a van on the Moskvich-412 nodes, and most importantly, they headed for front-wheel and all-wheel drive cars. The latter was especially relevant for the country of impassability, because UAZs were not actually sold to private owners, and the Lutsk plant was just beginning to master off-road vehicles on the basis of Zaporozhets.
A few years later, in 1970, after the arrival of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Kosygin in Tolyatti, VAZ began to work on the future Niva. At that time, the first four-wheel drive model was almost ready in Izhevsk.
In the work on IL-5, Udmurt designers were assisted by NAM specialists. The main feature of the car was the supporting body - a new, bold solution for a car of this class, as well as the original transfer case, the creation of which was created by a group led by Alexander Semenovich Kondrashkin. Shortly before entering IL, he defended a diploma in automatic transmission for Moskvich-412.
Designers abandoned the intermediate shaft between the gearboxes and the transfer case, reducing the noise and vibration of the transmission. In addition, the front axle and the “razdatka” were controlled with a single lever. The front independent suspension was a reinforced "Muscovite", and the rear - torsion bar was compact.
On the IL-5 was the Ufa 412th engine. But, increasing ground clearance, the developers were faced with the fact that the motor simply could not fit in height under the hood. I had to change the intake manifold and install a horizontal Solex carburetor.
Of course, the angular body could not be attributed to the masterpieces of design, but the only prototype IL-5 was nothing more than a driving concept. Moreover, its creators were forced to focus on the capabilities of the plant and designed body panels in such a way as to dispense with powerful presses and deep metal drawing in production.
The first to drive IZH-5 was Kondrashkin, who at one time worked as a skimmer on the MZMA. The tests were limited to a few circles around the plant, more - it didn’t make sense: it was clear what worked and what didn’t. There was work on the next car.
It was an IL-14 with a prettier body work by Vladimir Savelyev. The new transfer case allowed one lever to separately engage the front axle, rear, or both together with a reduction gear. The front suspension was still based on the Muscovite one, although there was a McPherson-type variant in the drawings. The first samples were, like the “five”, with a torsion rear suspension, but the designers, remembering the unification with the Moskvich-412, still settled on the springs.
The prototype IL-14 was ready in the summer of 1972, just in time for arrival at the Ustinov plant. A certain general from the retinue of the secretary of the Central Committee, under the worried glances of the designers, headed by Abrahamyan (he was already in charge at that time), got behind the wheel of an still-run off-road vehicle and "grabbed" through the territory of the plant. The general liked the car. But the authorities were silent about what will happen to the project next.
Izhevsk designers slightly overtook their Togliatti colleagues. In May 1972, there was only a model of the future Niva on a scale of 1: 5. True, in April they already completed testing of two open VAZ-E2121 "crocodiles", as they were called at the plant, having gained considerable experience to continue working.
IL-14 still had to finish and finish, to prepare production - and this was the main snag. The Izhevsk plant did not submit to the ministry of automobile industry, but belonged to the “defense industry,” for which cars were a secondary affair. It is said that at one of the meetings, the minister directly said that his main task was to put a new tank on production, and not a passenger car at all. Moreover, the degree of its unification with Moskvich-412 was not very high. And the director of VAZ Polyakov convinced the government that the Volzhsky plant had considerable opportunities for fine-tuning and putting on the VAZ 2121 conveyor. Polyakov, of course, was right.
From February 16 to October 16, 1974, the VAZ 2121 and IZH-14 tests were conducted at the Dmitrov training ground. At different stages, UAZ 469, LuAZ-969, Land Rover and Range Rover were used for comparison. Of course, IL in many ways lost to Niva. She showed a top speed of 130 km / h, and Izhevsk all-terrain vehicle - 120 km / h (115 km / h were recorded in the technical task), the Niva was dispersed to 100 km / h in 22.1 s, and the “14th” - for 30.5 s. The handling was worse. At the same time, the IL, like the VAZ, was noticeably ahead of UAZ in many respects; it was distinguished by good ergonomics and maneuverability.
However, in 1974 everyone already understood: regardless of the test results, the fate of IZH-14 was decided - it would not go into production. They didn’t give money to the plant, it was impossible to get along with two classmates in one planned economy. By this time, the government had strictly delimited the type of cars in factories. Izhevsky was ordered to continue to produce "Muscovites". Even IZH-Combi and the heel Izh 2715 were hardly put on the conveyor. Of course, work on the front-wheel drive IZH-13 was also abandoned in the mid-1970s.