The good news: the Red Book does not threaten them.

Leonid Sapozhnikov. Author photo

“Where the infantry does not pass and the armored train does not rush through, ” I always recall when I see the LuAZ. Somehow I met him in Poland at the site of an auto commission. “I recommend the pan, ” said the master confidentially. “A pretty Ukrainian jeep! ..”

The LuAZs have a whole bunch of design features that provide phenomenal cross-country ability (high ground clearance, independent suspension, downshift and wheel gears, rear axle differential lock). Lutsk Automobile Plant, which stubbornly overcomes the swamp of hopeless problems, also matches its brainchild.

“For the fifth year, friends and enemies are surprised:“ How are you still alive? ”Director Vladimir Gunchik told me. - The answer is simple: we know very well our niche in the world of cars - a cheap unpretentious jeep. We have managed to maintain the design staff and can offer customers a number of interesting modifications, including the 13021 family with a base extended by half a meter and a load capacity increased by 150 kg. And most importantly - we have many orders from Russia and Ukraine! Satisfy which, alas, is not able to …

Lack of money, which paralyzed the work of most Ukrainian enterprises, is not the only problem for LuAZ. The plant would have stopped with money: after all, the monopoly supplier of power units - the Melitopol Motor - itself no longer showed signs of life. But one day Gunchik was shown a German leaflet: “Are you a hunter, forester or farmer? Do you need to ride in any weather and at any time of the year through fields, forests and meadows? Then you need a nimble, undemanding, hardy mule from LuAZ! ”

A raffle? It turned out - no! One West German company bought 60 Lutsk cars in Poland, threw out Melitopol engines, and installed a Peugeot diesel in return. About these "mules" and said in the leaflet. She pushed the director and his team to search for alternative motors.

The Peugeot engine really liked, but was clearly not affordable. We found in Italy the company Lombardini (not to be confused with Lamborghini!), The 37-strong diesel engine of which suited in all respects. By the way, he could be seen in Moscow at MIMS-99 in the motor compartment of the Foros automobile LuAZ-1302-05.

Today, the plant has a good selection of engines. You can count on “Mitsubishi” and “Opel” (according to Gunchik's words, good contacts “got through” with these companies). In the amphibian "Geologist" installed Kharkov diesel plant named after Malyshev. And the plant, which I would like to sell in Russia, would like to be equipped with Russian engines - in particular, the Barnaul diesel engine.

By the way, about the price: LuAZs with a 50-strong Melitopol MeMZ-245 should cost, according to the manufacturer, no more than 2500 cu

“Russia is great, and it is necessary to conquer it gradually, ” said Gunchik.

At the factory, which in 1998 produced SIX cars (not counting those assembled by the Valletta company near Moscow), this sounded very strong. But the director knows what he is saying. Already today in his portfolio are applications from Russians for 5 thousand cars. And this is in the absence of a dealer network, which broke up in the early 90's.

“The network, ” the director continued, “we will soon revive.” First in the suburbs and non-chernozem region. Then in the Volga-Vyatka region - with a radius of action to the Urals. And also in Altai and the North Caucasus. Let's start with the sale of spare parts - because according to our data, in Russia there are now more than 100 thousand LuAZs. We already supply spare parts to some Russian trading companies.

“Well, when will the cars go on sale?”

My question forced the director to return from boundless Russian spaces to the land of Western Ukraine.

“We are afraid to sign contracts, ” he sighed, “until there is a box.”

It turns out that the Melitopol motor stopped the production of Luazov gearboxes. The production of modernized boxes was mastered by the Lviv Hydromechanical Transmission Plant. And they were about to go into a series … "allegedly pennies", which today are neither in Lutsk, nor in Lviv.

Well, here we are back to the problem of lack of money, with which we started a conversation. Is the circle closed? But what about the conquest of Russia, Vladimir Petrovich? And then Gunchik laid out his trump card. LuAZ shares owned by the state (and their 81%) are put up for sale. The condition of the competition is the acquisition of the entire package by one investor.

“Because our partners, ” the director explained, “want to work with the owner and not feel the breath of someone else …”

There is already a real candidate for investors. The director does not want to name him yet. But Lutsk is a small city, and I managed to find out that we are talking about a Ukrainian corporation cooperating with eminent car manufacturers - from BMWs with Land Rover to Suzuki. The investor, according to the terms of the competition, will have to pay off the debts of the plant (about $ 4.5 million) and invest $ 30 million in production and its development. If you recall that the Milan football club recently posted for Andrey Shevchenko from Dynamo Kyiv 25 million, the size of the investment seems modest. But they calculated at the plant: this amount is enough to get out of the swamp onto a solid shore and increase the output of cars in 2002 to 25, 000 (in 1990, they made a record 16, 500).

“Come to us on the Day of the Machine Builder, ” the director said goodbye, “and you will learn the news.” I hope they are nice.

- Which one is Ukrainian or Russian?

Gunchik looked at me reproachfully:

- We have one mechanical engineer’s day …

Amphibian "Geologist" LuAZ-1901. Swims slowly (5 km / h), but confidently.

Micro truck LuAZ-13021. The wheelbase, like all cars of this family, is increased by 500 mm compared to the LuAZ-1302, and the carrying capacity is increased by 150 kg. All three sides of the platform are folding.

LuAZ-13021-04. Designed for mobile repair teams servicing power lines and pipelines. There are four places in a double cab, and up to 250 kg can be transported on a shortened platform.

LuAZ-13021-07. Fiberglass van with metal rear door.