Sunday, December 12, 2010
KrAZ: The King Kong of trucks
Falling somewhere between an American Mack transport and a Russian battleship, the KrAZ comes from a factory that was built in Kremenchug, Ukraine, after the Second World War to produce bridges and farming equipment and, from 1959, heavy-duty trucks. Very heavy-duty.
I saw this KrAZ, a flatbed converted into a bus, plowing through Matanzas. Heard it, too. It looks like a KrAZ-257, from a series built from the mid-1960s well into the 1980s. Sister models included a tractor trailer (KrAZ-258), dump truck (KrAZ-256) and six-wheel-drive flatbed (KrAZ-255) built for military use and other off-road applications.
According to the SovAvto Catalog, the 257 weighs in, unloaded, at 11,500 kilograms, or more than 12 tons. Cargo capacity is 10,000 kg or 22,000 pounds. It has a dual-range five-speed transmission and 14.9-litre diesel V-8 engine rated at 215 horsepower in early models, rising later to 240 h.p. Fuel consumption is listed at 45 litres per 100 kilometres or 6.3 miles per (imperial) gallon, and judging by the anvil-on-wheels look of this machine, even that sounds optimistic.
KrAZ became a private company after the Soviet era and today operates as the AvtoKrAZ Holding Group, part of the Finance and Credit Bank conglomerate controlled by Kostyantin Zhevago, a 36-year-old Ukrainian billionaire.
Its massive, perhaps indestructible trucks continue to operate around the world, from Argentina to Vietnam. Hundreds lumber along the rough roads of Cuba, which in 2009 began a joint program with AvtoKrAZ to rebuild as many as 430 dump trucks that have been in constant use for 30 years. Meantime, a new assembly line in Cienfuegos (no doubt a "knock-down" or "kit" plant) was to produce 300 to 500 new KrAZ vehicles, mainly concrete mix trucks.
In Soviet Russia, truck owns you!
One truck, many makers