This is a question, which bothers many fans of Russian military vehicles. We all have seen UAZ cars in newsreels from around the world, James Bond films and YouTube videos featuring crazy stunts, which sometimes seem to be impossible. From time to time we can even meet an UAZ on the streets. And then we start to think about how to get one for ourselves. Browsing Facebook, eBay, milweb and various classifieds sites can be discouraging, because these days very few UAZ cars can be found and even fewer are available locally. So, how to buy a reliable and good-looking UAZ 469 or 452? Let me give you a few pieces of advice on that.
First, not all of us know this, so please let me draw some background. UAZ 452 and UAZ 469 are general names of vehicles created for the Red Army, back in the days of Cold War. These vehicles share the same main mechanical components and are built on the same frame. This is important, because most parts are completely interchangeable between the two models. From Army perspective this puts a lot less stress on its logistical chain, from our perspective it eases searching for spares and makes them cheaper.
During the years these vehicles have gone through a series of modernizations and changes. Mostly to increase reliability, sometimes, sadly rarely to improve crew comfort. Various other security services utilized these cars in their service, from border guards through Militia (Police), to wood patrols. Eventually UAZ cars spilled over to civilian users. These vehicles were either bought as new, from the factory, or came from the Army or one of government agencies. UAZ 469 became 31512, to finally evolve into its modern day versions known as Patriot and Hunter. UAZ 452 was developed more conservatively and today’s versions look a lot more like the original. Thanks to this common lineage, both UAZ 452 and UAZ 469B should be considered together.
Although good-looking and much more reliable, these new UAZ cars lack the sense of ruggedness and simplicity, which their older, classic counterparts have. So let’s talk about getting a very good condition UAZ 452 or 469. The list below is meant to help you to buy your own UAZ, which will become your proud and will serve you well for years.
1. Go Army!
Realistically there are only three ways, how you can get the very good shape UAZ 452 or 469, which you really want:
buy an old, battered vehicle and restore it yourself;
get a vehicle, which was restored by someone else;
buy a vehicle, which served in the Army.;
As always, all of these methods have their own advantages and flaws. Unfortunately old UAZ cars are usually very rusty and pretty battered. Restoring an UAZ like that can take up to two years, requires quite a lot of space, sometimes over 1000 man-hours and numerous skills varying from mechanical, through electrical to spraying. If you have the facilities and skills to do it yourself, then great – you’ll save quite a lot from the start, and you’ll be busy almost every afternoon and weekend for at least a year.
You can also get a vehicle, which was restored by someone else. Depending on the quality of the job, you might enjoy a trouble free vehicle for years, all you’ll have to do is adjusting something once in a while. On the downside – these vehicles are usually the most expensive and can cost up to 15-20 000€. However, there’s another way to go – you could buy an ex Army UAZ 469B or 452, fix its flaws and enjoy a relatively failure-free car. Why relatively? Because every UAZ needs some adjustments to be made now and then.
Each vehicle in Polish Army has to be ready for immediate, unexpected alert, during which it’ll have to move on its own to a predesignated concentration area. In theory this means, that all of them have to be 100% ready. In fact, it means, that UAZ’s get quarterly checkups and are driven for a few kilometres every three months. If they’re lucky, they get to a training ground, where they see more action. All of this means, that you can buy an original vehicle, without any weird modifications and parts from tractors. It will have its imperfections, like every UAZ, but they can be fixed relatively easy and cheap, compared to the first option. In the end, this is the most cost-effective way to own an UAZ 469B or 452. The time, money and effort needed to use this car on weekends or even as a daily driver will be the lowest of all three options.
If you’d like to own one yourself, please take a look at what we currently have in stock:
2. Beware of rust
If there is one thing, that plagues UAZ 469B and 452 the most, it is the rust. A vehicle, which stood outside and has been neglected for years can be completely rusted underneath. Sometimes even the frame can have holes in it. This kind of scenario means, that you are in a big problem, because your car’s value aims at scrap price. Of course everything can be fixed, body panels can be replaced, rusted parts cut off, and welded up with new pieces of steel.
Even the frame can be substituted, as they don’t have any permanent serial numbers on them. Yes, the only factory way of identifying these frames was painting (sic!) a white number on the right-hand side before the right wheel. Not very durable. 😉 But do you have the time and skills to fix the body work?
Generally it is better to find a rust free UAZ, with mechanical problems, than a bucket of rust, which is mechanically sound. UAZ parts are cheap and thanks to their simplicity repairs are easy and enjoyable. You can do most of them on your front lawn. Not at all like body repairs.
An example of well-preserved UAZ 469B undercarriage. Usually they are in far worse shape.
3. Think Volga
Let’s be honest – the original 70 hp UAZ engine is rubbish. Thirsty, noisy, made for 70 octane petrol nowadays, it’s completely outdated and cannot be considered as an adequate source of power. So what are the alternatives? There are two basic ways, which we could go from here – one sticks to the petrol heritage of this car, the other one ventures into the lands of diesel.
Let’s start with petrol. Two best engines, which can be fitted to an UAZ are Ford 2.9l V6 and a 100 hp Volga engine. Installing the Ford engine has many advantages – a lot more power, better reliability and work culture, and it’s relatively lightweight. Unfortunately there are also disadvantages – quite a lot of cutting is required to fit this engine into its place, and since these engines have done sometimes hundreds of thousands of kilometres, no one knows, what’s their real condition.
In our opinion he best petrol option is a late model Volga 100 hp engine. It is a development of a standard UAZ engine. Thanks to that, it fits ideally – no cutting or welding of the body structure is required, and it mates perfectly with the original gearbox. Externally it is almost identical to a regular UAZ 469B engine.
Higher compression rate, different cylinder head and several other modifications give this engine not only better power and torque, but also better fuel consumption. It needs about 1,5 to 2,5l less petrol per 100 kms, depending on type of terrain and your driving style. Its resource is also higher, about 150-200 000 kilometres, before overhaul.
Not only it is better in every important aspect, it also saves you money each time you drive your UAZ! So, if you have the option, we strongly recommend choosing an UAZ with the more powerful and reliable Volga engine. If you’d like to upgrade your UAZ with one of these engines, we have them in our stock:
How about a diesel engine for UAZ 452 or 469B?
Now, let us explore the diesel territory. Conversions to compressed ignition engines are very popular in Poland and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately most of them simply butcher the car, which will never be as good as it was beforehand. Old Mercedes diesels are particularly favoured. Although they are very reliable and will work on literally anything, these aren’t the best engines for a Russian 4×4. Usually underpowered and very noisy, they make using an UAZ even more uncomfortable than usual.
One of the best and most reasonable options is an engine from Polish Andoria 4C90 or 4C(T)90 family. They fit perfectly into the engine bay of an UAZ and can easily be mated with a synchronized 4 speed gearbox and the original transfer case. With power varying from 70 to 100 hp and a history of being mounted in factory new UAZ cars, these are probably the best diesel engines, which can be installed in an UAZ 452 or 469B.
Of course, they also have shortcomings – lower cruising speed (about 80-85 kph) and more noise, but these can be off set, by lower fuel consumption and by insulating and sound proofing the bulkhead wall.
So, if you want a diesel UAZ, go for one with Andoria engine.
Please contact us , if you’d like to buy such an engine or a complete conversion kit for your UAZ.
4. Check the mechanical condition of your UAZ
An obvious, but important advice. Be sure to check for all the standard faults, while buying a 4×4 vehicle:
– oil leaks from the engine, gearbox, transfer case and axles;
– engine condition and work, when it’s cold and warm;
– oil pressure on cold and warm engine;
– backlash on shafts;
– barely working front-wheel drive – this might indicate problems with the transfer case;
– rust underneath the body;
– rust on the car’s frame – there cannot be any significant rust on it, a coating of mud or “protective” bitumen mass, might mean, that the seller wants to hide something – obviously ask for photos or videos showing its condition, before it was coated;
If you cannot inspect your vehicle personally, then find someone who you trust to see and test drive it. If you cannot do that, make sure, that the seller will provide you with a comprehensive history of the vehicle, which you want to buy with the photos and videos to back up his words.
You should definitely be able to clearly see the frame and weak spots of bodywork like sills, wheel arches, side window frames, etc.
A set of videos showing how the vehicle starts with a cold engine, how it drives and how the temperature raises to normal level, how the UAZ drives on roads and off-road is a must-have. Without this, you won’t be able to properly assess the condition of your dream vehicle.
Of course, we provide our customers, with all of that much-needed informations, photos and videos, so they could make an informative decision, while buying vehicles from us.
Here’s a sample video, which we made not so long ago for one of our clients
5. Take care about the looks
There’s nothing wrong about an UAZ 469B with dented hood, old tires and torn apart canvas. That is, if you want everybody to think, that you just bought a piece of Russian junk. Otherwise, it would be good to take care of your new vehicle’s looks. You can either do this by yourself or ask the seller to do it for you. A new canvas, tires and external accessories will make your UAZ stand out from the crowd at a military vehicles show.
You can also do it yourself in your garage. Most of these items are easy to install and can put on by one person, sometimes with a help of another one. So, why not invest some time and money into making your UAZ look pristine?
Here are a few propositions from us, on how to improve the looks of your car:
6. Avoid weird conversions
Wouldn’t it be great to have an UAZ with 150 hp turbo diesel engine, automatic transmission, power steering, disk brakes and heated seats? Yes, it would, but at what cost?
Unfortunately the 150 hp engine provides too much torque for the axles and transmission to handle. Which means, that rather sooner, than later you’ll have to rebuild them. Soon after that you’ll have to do that again. Let’s say, that your brakes fail – what do you do?
You’ll have to find suitable spares. But how will you know what kind of parts are needed for your car, if you weren’t the one who made the modifications? Disk brakes may have come from Suzuki Vitara, brake calipers from FSO Polonez and master cylinder may be from Opel Vectra.
All of these parts will work fine together. But if you don’t have documentation of what was modified, how it was done and with what parts, you might find yourself with a useless vehicle, because of a broken part worth 20€, which you won’t be able to find.
Undoing someone else’s conversions is a real tough and time-consuming job. Sometimes it more resembles an investigation, than a normal repair. “What parts did they use?” “Why did they do that?” “Does that fix a some kind of problem or were they just lazy?” – this is the kind of questions, which you’ll be facing, while trying to fix a heavily modified UAZ 469B or 452.
If you want to buy one of these, make sure, that you’ll know everything, because sooner or later you’ll need to replace something. And then, the previous owner might simply not remember, which parts and from which vehicle did he use. Memory can fail, even if one has the best intentions.
Of course, we provide full documentation of all modifications, which we made to a vehicle according to our customer’s request.
7. Make sure, that all paperwork is there and legal requirements are met.
When importing an old vehicle it is important to make sure, that all needed documents are delivered with the vehicle. In most countries vehicles older than 20-25-30 years (depending on local law) can be imported and registered as classics.
This allows the new owner to use them, despite the fact, that they don’t meet the modern day combustion and safety standards. Usually you can also benefit from cheaper insurance and be subjected to less frequent and strict technical inspections. Would be a shame to miss these benefits, because of a paperwork error.
Each country has its own requirements, so before buying, check the import and registration rules in your country. Some countries for example require, that the imported vehicle is completely clean and absolutely free of any soil and seeds. It is vital to prepare it properly before shipping.
Otherwise, your vehicle might be disassembled for cleaning at arrival and you’ll get a solid bill for that. In such cases authorities usually release a set of clean 3D puzzles, so you could put them back together at your own expense. And if anything goes missing they won’t take any responsibility… So please check those requirements and make sure, that the seller understands and obeys them.
Also make sure, that seller will provide you with needed paperwork. This will make your life a lot easier, when your new vehicle arrives. We have experience in selling and shipping cars and heavier vehicles to many countries around the world. Sometimes this means a lot of jumping through legal hoops, but it’s worth it, when we can make our customers happy.
8. Agree all payment details beforehand
Make sure, that all sides know what is the subject of contract.
– What is the current condition of the vehicle, what modifications or service will be done to it before delivery?
– How much will it cost?
– When do you pay?
– How do you pay for your vehicle?
– Who is responsible for organizing and paying for shipping?
– Where will the vehicle be stored before shipping? Will it stay outside, or indoors?
– Will it be insured? Who covers the insurance cost?
– Who’s responsible if anything happens to it?
– Who’s responsible, if it gets damaged during shipping?
Knowing all those details can save you a lot of troubles and regrets. The best option is to have it all written down on paper in a form of a sales contract. In that case, no additional surprising cost can be added and safety of your transaction will be much higher. If you are reading this, it must mean one of two things – either you just scrolled here, or you really must want an UAZ. Surely we’re counting on the second option. 🙂
That’s all for today. We will be very happy to help you to own your new UAZ, or any other Warsaw Pact military vehicle. Please spare a moment and have a look at what we have for sale: [click].
We hope, that this guide was helpful to you. If it was, please share it on your social media and in local groups. We’ll appreciate it a lot.