Tag Archives: Zhiguli

Maintaining A Motorbike – Wartburg 353 W

While a student and a devotee of the form follows function philosophy of industrial design Carl Klaus Dietel experimented with aerodynamic shapes of cars at the Weissensee College of Art in Berlin in 1961. Later he was transferred from the Central Research Center in Chemnitz, then called Karl Marx Stadt, to the VEB Automobilwerk Eisnach where his hatchback / notchback design was given to Wartburg 311 designer Hans Fleischer with instructions to get rid of the NATO jeep like grill and add a proper boot.

Wartburg 353, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

Fleischer did as he was instructed and also raised the waste line from bumper level to the mid point of the now square specified headlights. Power for the new 353 model came from the 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine inherited from the 311 model but now giving 55 hp. These motors had only 7 parts and so the saying came that one could drive a 353 car while maintaining a motorbike. It was a nippy performer too with of 95 miles an hour and thanks to the high revving engine could reach 62 mph from rest in 12 seconds.

Wartburg 353, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

Design of the interior of the 353 was shared between Dietel and Lutz Rudolph. Upon launch in 1966 the 353 immediately out performed it’s eastern block rivals from Lada / Zhiguli and Moskvitch in every way including safety, acceleration, top speed, thanks to a free wheel function economy, ergonomics, handling, space and all important off road capability, despite being saddeled at the behest of the Soviets with only a two stroke motor.

Wartburg 353, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

This particular 1984 Wartburg 353 served as a taxi for ten years before being imported to the UK. The current owner acquired it as a non runner with a snapped off column shift and substantial damage to the bonnet and both front and rear wings. After the panels were repaired and or replaced and a new sill was welded in the car was resprayed it’s original flame red colour.

Wartburg 353, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

Before the collapse of the Eastern Bloc a single 353 was fitted with a Volkswagen 4 stroke motor in 1988. However a combination of political events and globilisation over took production and VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach closed it’s doors in 1991 for good after just 152,775 4 cylinder Wartburg 1.3’s and 1,225,190 353’s had been produced in two series; 353 from ’66 – ’75 and 353 W ’75 – ’88.

Thanks for joining me on this “Maintaining A Motorbike” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Peoples car – Жигули (Zhiguli) 2106

Well OK it is a Lada but this one is branded for the home market. Avtovaz originally called Volzhsky Avtomobliny Zavod or VAZ for short marketed its FIAT 124 derivatives under the Lada brand for export, around 60 % of production and under the Zhiguli brand inside Russia.

The cars they built were initially beefed up FIAT 124’s with thicker steel panels, smaller, more robust less powerful overhead cam engines not seen on any other FIAT vehicles, designed to run on low 93 octane fuel and fitted with aluminium rear drum brakes in place of discs. Perfect for harsh conditions from Siberia all the way down to deserts of Egypt.

A couple of batches of these vehicles were supplied to the militia with rotary wankel engines allegedly based heavily on Mazda technology. Many of these militia vehicles, all supplied without revolution counters did not make it as far as their first oil change, upon failure these the motors were swapped out for the more conventional 4 cylinder 1.2 / 73 cui and 1.3 litre / 79 cui units. Rotary Zhigulis are still to be found in the preowned car market of Moscow.

The overall body was little changed during production from 1970 to 1984 when the model was replaced by the Riva, itself a model once stripped of all the plastic and lights was pretty much the same as the 2103 series seen here.

I managed to decipher Жигули in cyrillic script on the badge with a little help from Alexey Rogachev on The Nostalgia Forum. Alexey informs me that the Zhiguli name is taken from the Zhiguli Mountains at the bottom of which is a town Tolyatti, named after an Italian communist, where these vehicles were built.

It is thought somewhere around 18 million Avtovaz FIAT 124 derived vehicles have been built since 1970, incredibly later Riva derivatives are still being assembled to this day in a Suzuki plant in Egypt.

Hope you have enjoyed this cyrillic edition of Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, and that you’ll join me tomorrow Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !


I JUST WANT ONE ! – Maloo R8 !

The odd Latvian Lada Zhiguli notwithstanding it’s not everyday I amble along the streets of Bristol and get stopped dead in my tracks on seeing a vehicle and think WTF is that I want one and want it now !

Such was the case with this vehicle, which oozes refinement and speed by the bucket load yet looks like a pick up. Turns out the Maroo R8 is manufactured by Holden Special Vehicles in Australia and has it’s origins in the humble Holden Ute – pick up.

This Maloo R8 would appear to be the latest E series introduced in 2007, which features a 412 hp 6 litre / 366 CUI LS2 V8 from the Corvette parts bin.

This pick up does not just look fast either, it holds the record for being the worlds fastest pick up timed at 168 mph / 271 kph a staggering 13.5 mph / 22 kph faster than its closest competitor the Dodge Ram SRT-10.

I don’t think its a stretch to say the Maloo R8 is a considerably better looker than the Dodge either.

For a long time the 1970 Chevrolet El Camino has been my dream pick up, my dream just took a turn for the Australian outback 🙂

Hope this Antipodean Stunner leaves you in good spirits for the week ahead, Don’t forget to come back now ! Hear ?