The story of such a wonderful model as 2122 VAZ should start with the fact that it deserves special attention. In the era of the developing automotive industry of the USSR, many entertaining projects were created that boggled the imagination. A large number of experimental samples with unimaginable characteristics and performance gave hope for great success. The instance under review is no exception. Amphibious vehicles received a lot of attention. And the VAZ-2122 car (its photo is presented in our article) was just designed to overcome all kinds of land and water obstacles.
The Russian auto industry is senseless and merciless
This is the phrase that you can often hear not only from the lips of motorists, but also from those who have never experienced driving vehicles. Most of these statements are connected precisely with the creations of AvtoVAZ. On the logical"why?" there are many different versions of the answers.
Some people don't like the look, others don't like the necessary or unnecessary functionality. Many complain about the low reliability, and even the modern cultures of "BPAN", Loud Sound and the like generally cause a storm of emotions, sometimes positive, and often very negative. How many people - so many opinions. But do not forget that the Volga Automobile Plant was not always so boring and of the same type, and the cars produced here at certain intervals continue to delight to this day.
How it all began
With the opening of the Volga Automobile Plant, the military showed great interest in creating an army off-road vehicle for use in extreme conditions. Initially, the idea of developing the 2122 VAZ model was not supported by the plant management.
The first movement towards the planning of such an instance began at the end of 1970. Then designers and planners were instructed to explore the prospects for the market for army vehicles and jeeps, as well as the results of the use of the latter during military conflicts in the Middle East and Vietnam. Of all the available models, International Scout, Ford M151, as well as domestic UAZs were chosen, not only serial, but also promising.
Experimental all-terrain vehicle-amphibian VAZ-2122 "River" was originally developed at the initiative of the plant, and Peter Prusov was in charge of the project. The main plan was to create a utilitarian army jeep. Despite this, the military soon made a request, which indicatedthe ability to cross water obstacles not only on wheels, but also afloat.
In early 1971, Yuri Danilov presented the first detailed drawing of an amphibious vehicle. When in 1972 A. Eremeev was appointed to the position of project designer, he began to build a full-scale model. Such was presented to the artistic council in 1974 and immediately approved. Outwardly, the first VAZ-2122, the photo of which can be seen in the article, did not betray its waterfowl character. The fact is that the car looked like an absolutely ordinary SUV, unable to maneuver on the water.
Resemblance to VAZ-2121 Niva
Since model 2122 was built on the basis of the notorious Niva, the external differences from its progenitor in the amphibian were not so serious. Of course, the dimensions have slightly increased due to the special shape of the body. But the technical filling remained practically unchanged - the same 1.58-liter engine and gearbox with a slightly increased gear ratio of the main pair, which became equal to 4.78.
Of course, the body was slightly modernized, which was noticeable mainly from the bottom of the car. To protect against the ingress of unwanted moisture on important components of the chassis, transmission and motor, as well as for smooth running on water, the bottom of the 2122 VAZ model was made flat and completely sealed. Of course, this did not go unnoticed for some of the problems associated with overheating of the units.
E2122 - first samples
So, in 1976, the first two prototypes were made. Afterall the necessary preparations, their field trials began. The first thing that was amazing was the patency. Even after increasing the overall dimensions and weight, the car easily overcame any land obstacles at the level of such jeeps as, for example, UAZ.
Water barriers also did not become an obstacle, which could not but rejoice. VAZ-2122 (amphibious all-terrain vehicle of the first series) turned out to be quite successful, except for one. Due to the closed bottom, deficiencies in the cooling of the engine and transmission units began to appear. As a result - overheating and unforeseen breakdowns. New developments were brewing, and soon the second series of the device saw the light.
2E2122 - work on bugs
1978 showed the results of careful work on the project. Two prototypes were again produced, which outwardly remained practically unchanged. The main feature was the rear-view mirrors borrowed from KamAZ. Tests that began in 1979, unfortunately, showed that the problem of overheating of the units remained at the same level.
Besides, the transmission of model 2122 VAZ could not withstand the loads that the military created for it. The main cause of breakdowns lay in the change in the ratio of the gearbox-wheel pair. As a result, the project has reached a deep dead end.
To prevent malfunctions, a detailed reworking of the gearbox was a necessary measure, which could mean discrepancies with the course of unification with the Niva. This required large expenditures, and it would have been necessary to facilitate the entiredesign in order to reduce the load on the main components and assemblies. These changes were significantly at odds with the requirements of customers. But on August 27, 1981, just such a development was approved to further bring the project to life.
3E2122 - global reconstruction
Before the release of the third sample, global changes were made, thanks to which the VAZ-2122 car received the right to further development. Alterations were designed to increase the stability of the entire structure of the amphibious all-terrain vehicle. In 1982, the first prototypes came out, which were smaller than the previous ones in size.
Rear overhang reduced by 100mm. In fact, the dimensions became comparable with the VAZ-2121 Niva, and the tires were installed from the "immortal symbol of the Russian automobile industry." The main pair was also changed, giving it a gear ratio equal to 4.44. In addition, a reduction in the payload to 360 kg from 400 kg was agreed with the customer, and the total volume of fuel tanks was reduced to 80 liters instead of the previous 120. The reduction in the thickness and height of the metal from which the bumper was made turned out to be effective.
3E2122: test results
The third modification turned out to be the most successful. The replacement of the engine with a less powerful one (VAZ-21011), with a volume of 1.3 liters, agreed with the customer, made it possible to achieve greater reliability of the unit. The front gearbox turned out to be placed outside the main body, which was still as tight as possible. And thanks to the increase in the cooling radiator and the addition ofthe second fan increased the cooling rate of the transfer case.
All these innovations helped to overcome the previous shortcomings, and during the tests the VAZ-2122 car, the technical characteristics of which at that time exceeded all expectations, proved to be excellent.
Permeability on land and water has not deteriorated, even despite the reduction in engine size and smaller diameter wheels. The full test program was carried out in the deserts of Turkmenistan and the passes in the Pamirs. And all this all-terrain vehicle withstood perfectly.
Series 400 - the fourth stage of development
In 1983, on the basis of the third generation of the 2122 series, three samples were created with the numbers PT-401, 402 and 403 assigned to them, respectively. They were prepared specifically for testing at the state level.
In more than half a year of all kinds of checks, the samples covered a distance of 30,000 km, being afloat for more than 50 hours. Upon completion, the state commission concluded that the VAZ-2122 car (floating Niva) is being tested according to the basic requirements, and also meets the requirements of state and industry standards, TTZ and other NTD.
In addition, there was a phrase according to which the jeep was recommended for mass production and adoption. It was only necessary to correct the insufficient reliability of the brakes in high altitude conditions, since at relatively high altitudes (4000 m above sea level and more) the brakeliquid was boiling due to low pressure.
500 and 600 series - small innovations
1985 marked the release of the 5th generation of test pieces. All comments on the 4th series were taken into account, and another 10 copies of the VAZ-2122 saw the light, the technical characteristics of which became possible to implement in any weather and natural conditions.
According to unconfirmed reports, 5 (or 6) of these vehicles were in service with various military units and were used for the needs of the army. The remaining 4 machines remained at the factory for their own tests.
As a result, only positive reviews of the military, coupled with the great interest of hunters and fishermen in this miracle of engineering technology, gave hope for the serial production of the model. The full test program prompted the state commission to again recommend the amphibious all-terrain vehicle for mass production in 1986. And 1987 was marked by the release of three copies of the sixth series, in which some innovations from the plant's engineers were implemented.
Despite the great success of the model and only positive reviews, in general, the planned small-scale production did not begin. The fact is that at the end of the field tests of the 6th series, the military no longer needed a floating car of the company commander, and the 6 million rubles necessary to start production turned out to be an unbearable amount for the state and AvtoVAZ to raise.
The project was closed, and the car turned into a ghost. Howeverthe last examples still exist, but are in various museums. VAZ-2122, the photo of which is now one of the last reminders of it, has become an unfulfilled dream of many enthusiastic fans of the project.
In the hands of a modern owner
One of the samples of the 6th series, after the project was curtailed, ended up in the hands of one of the leaders of the creation and production of Reka. Thanks to the experience gained over the years of development, Valery Domansky restored the VAZ-2122 "Floating Niva".
Description of this instance could take many printed pages. However, from all this, it is only worth highlighting the moment when the amphibian still belonged to Valery Ivanovich (now it is in the Museum of AvtoVAZ equipment). Before the direct transfer of the car to the exhibition, journalists from Autoreview managed to ride it, who were incredibly delighted with the build quality and the capabilities of the device. From the review, you can find out that on land the car behaves like an ordinary Niva, but when the VAZ-2122 begins its “swimming”, it has no equal. The amphibious all-terrain vehicle perfectly overcomes not only reservoirs with stagnant water, but also the currents of rivers. Having got out “dry out of the water”, the movement on land also continues without any difficulty. In a word, not a car - a dream!
A bit of sadness
Unfortunately, this part of the automotive industry cannot be considered from the point of view of a consumer niche. Closed at the stage of introduction into production, the device was a great prospect and hope for many avid hunters and fishermen. Despite the relatively low power, butgood cross-country ability on any type of soil and water surface, the "River" was never destined to find itself in the hands of true fans.
It is worth noting that the period for which the serial production of amphibians was planned became quite difficult in the history of the USSR countries. Perhaps that is why such large-scale developments have sunk into oblivion. Already in the modern world, the need for them has disappeared, and they have been replaced by hovercraft and other innovations in the automotive industry. As a result, one of the most promising and unusual projects of the entire domestic automobile industry has become the unwitting finale of the crown of engineering.