Video: Little-known Motors Of The Soviet Union: Turbo Engine And All-wheel Drive Lada EVA
2023 Author: Natalie MacDonald | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 13:59
If you were born in the USSR in the 1970s and have been interested in cars since childhood, then on the wall of your room there were probably posters with a Ferrari F40 and a Lamborghini Countach, which were carried by a friend of my father’s colleague’s brother in the regional committee from an overseas business trip in a drawing tube. And, very likely, where on the side was a picture with LadEV - the pinnacle of the Soviet Union's motorsport thought. And even though she never went through the baptism of fire, many articles and documentary short films were devoted to the EV project. Including because of her motor.
We have already said that turbocharging on Soviet cars appeared late - in 1981. And even then, if the Vilnius Vehicle Plant (VFTS) and the NAMI Institute did not strive to compete in the top division of the rally Group B, then there could be no turbocharged cars in the USSR at all. Fortunately, the story turned out differently.
After testing the Lad2105-T16 VFTS in 1985, the engineers of the Vilnius Automobile Plant realized two unpleasant truths. First: the potential of the 2105 chassis was practically exhausted, therefore, to build a competitive car for the 12th class of Group B, a new aggregate base was required. Second, a turbocharged engine running at its limits needs a fuel injection system that allows for more precise fuel control, increasing the efficiency and reliability of the powertrain.
Therefore, by 1985, work was in full swing at VFTS on a car that would later receive the name LadEV (EVA - "Experimental Vilnius Automobile Plant"). Despite the fact that times were not easy for both the VFTS and the Soviet Union, the engineers created the car according to all the canons of the major league of the world rally.
EV was built on the basis of the newest VAZ-2108, but, like its future opponents in Group B, like the LanciDeltS4 or Peugeot 205 T16, it had almost nothing to do with the civilian model. From the "eight" EV, only the central part of the body, as well as the lighting technology, remained. The rest of the components were built from scratch.
The front and rear sections were a roll cage that joined together in the cabin cage to form a lightweight yet strong structure. To this structure were attached racing double wishbone suspension. The body panels were made of fiberglass, after having blown them in a wind tunnel - thanks to the DOSAAF experimental sports aviation plant, which joined the EVA project.
As a result, two body kits were prepared for the EV. The first, "daytime", managed only with standard headlights from the "eight", and the second - "night" - retrofitted with four additional lamps integrated into the front bumper.
The interior of the car was freed from everything superfluous: a flat dashboard with instruments and toggle switches, a four-spoke sports-type wheel, a pair of racing buckets - that's all the amenities. Immediately behind the driver and navigator was a plexiglass partition, and already behind it was the engine. After all, like the LanciDeltS4 or Peugeot 205 T16, the EV was mid-engined!
The basis for the engine was the time-tested and race-tested block from the VAZ-2106, the working volume of which was increased to 1860 cubic centimeters. Thanks to the 16-valve head, forged pistons, Bosch K-Jetronic injection system and his Majesty supercharging, the engine power has increased from a base 64 horsepower to 270, and torque - to an impressive 353 Nm at 4200 rpm even now.
Unfortunately, what looked like a spaceship in the USSR did not come as a surprise to Western Europe. Introduced at the end of 1985, the EV was clearly inferior to the monsters of Group B. Firstly, in terms of power: by the end of the 1985 season, the output of Lanche and Audi engines exceeded 400 forces. Secondly, the drive. The EV was rear-wheel drive, and therefore could only compete with the Lanci037, Opel Mant400 and other outdated models, which were only chased by privateers. 6.7 seconds to 100 kilometers per hour? For the G8, it was indecently fast. However, the road homologation versions of Ford and Renault rally cars were also driving, and the military equipment was much faster.
By the beginning of 1986, an improved version of the EVA was prepared: thanks to the Lucas distributed injection system, the power increased to 300 horsepower, and acceleration to "hundreds" now took 6 seconds. It is not known for certain who exactly tuned the injectors of the Vilnius prototypes, but, presumably, it was not without the help of the capitalists.
However, the machine's fundamental problem - lack of grip - remained unresolved. Michelin tires, stretched over Ronal wheels, rowed only on the rear axle, while the entire avant-garde of Group B long ago switched to all-wheel drive. Since the VFTS engineers did not really want to be in the catch-up engineers, it took several more months to develop LadEVS-Proto - with an eye on the upcoming Group S. It was an even wilder racing class.
The extreme "eight" has finally acquired an all-wheel drive system, and its power has increased by 50 horsepower. The Arsenal is, let's say, not the most impressive, but the good balance and optimal chassis length (2,470 millimeters) should have provided the EV with a good chance in the new racing category. However, during the time that the S-Proto version was being developed, there were several terrible accidents in Group B, which put an end to both Group B itself, and at the same time the plans to create Group S. And our EV turned out to be a hostage of the situation.
However, there were other factors that could ruin the life of Soviet riders and the EVA project. The end of the 1980s was a difficult time for the USSR, there was not enough money. But even in spite of this, the S-Proto version nevertheless passed several special stages of the 1987 Rally 1000 Lakes - number zero to test the operation of the all-wheel drive transmission. And she became a real legend in the post-Soviet space, although her racing career never took place.
Most EV contemporaries agree that four EVA prototypes were built between 1984 and 1986, two of which (the earliest) are now in the Stasis Brundza Museum. Perhaps someday the world will know the fate of the other two machines.
Some of the developments on the EV project were later transferred to Poch, the same company that built the G8 for Dakar. But the Soviet turbo engine was never brought to mind.
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