Stubborn old goat

Russian-built GAZ-69 was introduced in 1953, with a design from an earlier era.
    IN RUSSIA, the nickname for the GAZ-69 is "Kozel," or male goat. It is not a compliment.
   Call someone a kozel, and you are suggesting he is stubborn and stupid.
   When the name is applied to this prosaic four-by-four, however, there could be some admiration mixed with the disdain. As this battered Cuban example attests, the Kozel is virtually unkillable. And despite its tractor-like looks, the Kozel is said to have a surprisingly soft ride, thanks to long leaf springs fore and aft.
   The GAZ-69 was introduced in 1953 as the Russian army's basic light off-road truck. Its styling looked dated even then, reflecting a long, seven-year development period.

Three-speed gearbox, dual-range transfer case.
   Production began at the Gorky Automobile Factory but soon moved to UAZ (Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant). Between the two, more than 630,000 Kozels would be assembled by the end of production in 1972. Variants were also built by Romania's ARO, with the last model, recognizable by its one-piece windshield, produced until 1975.
Powering the first GAZ-69 was a 2.1-litre inline four-cylinder gas engine producing 55 h.p. Later a 2.4.-litre four-cylinder rated at 65 h.p. was introduced. Throughout, the 69 had a three-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer case.

   According to, Kozels were exported to 56 countries for military and civilian use. Among those destinations was Cuba, where GAZ-69s like this government vehicle remain in service ... too stubborn, it would seem, to surrender.

With long leaf springs atop the solid axles, the ride is surprisingly supple.


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