Table of contents:
- It is not difficult to scold Soviet cars: no matter how sad it is to admit, domestic cars have always been not as powerful, not as comfortable and not as technological as their Western counterparts. But they had other advantages - simplicity, low cost and high reliability. That is why "Muscovites" looked worthy in rally-marathons, and even became winners in British touring! And in the early 80s, the Soviet Union decided to conquer a new peak in world motorsport - the World Rally Championship. But the difficult times put an end to the idea, as well as the prospects for the completion of one very interesting engine
Video: Little-known Motors Of The Soviet Union: The First Turbo Engine
2023 Author: Natalie MacDonald | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 13:59
It is not difficult to scold Soviet cars: no matter how sad it is to admit, domestic cars have always been not as powerful, not as comfortable and not as technological as their Western counterparts. But they had other advantages - simplicity, low cost and high reliability. That is why "Muscovites" looked worthy in rally-marathons, and even became winners in British touring! And in the early 80s, the Soviet Union decided to conquer a new peak in world motorsport - the World Rally Championship. But the difficult times put an end to the idea, as well as the prospects for the completion of one very interesting engine
In the Soviet Union, turbines, as a rule, were required for jet planes and power plants, but certainly not for cars. Why fuel efficiency or increased power, if there is a sea of oil in the country, and there are no unlimited autobahns? Soviet motorsport did not need turbocharging either, since racing cars for local championships did not differ much from civilian ones. But at international competitions it was getting harder and harder to do without boost.
Enzo Ferrari's formula - "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" - worked for all markets. This was also understood in the USSR. Therefore, performances of "Muscovites", "Zhiguli" and "Volga" at international competitions were a vital necessity. After all, if cars run well in races, they are well bought in capitalist countries. If they are bought in capitalist countries, foreign currency goes to the Union. It's simple.
Until the mid-70s, the preparation of cars for international competitions was carried out at factories or by garage enthusiasts. But in 1975 the situation changed radically: the Vilnius Vehicle Factory (VFTS) appeared in the Lithuanian SSR, specializing in the construction of cars for competitions. The new state-owned enterprise stood out not only in that it was geographically close to the motorsport-advanced Western Europe, but also in its personnel, which included the best pilots and engineers of the Soviet Union. Including master of sports Stasis Brundza.
VFTS quickly built cars that an ordinary Soviet person could not have imagined. First came the mad "penny" Lad1600 Rally, which took part in the Acropolis Rally and 1000 Lakes Rally. A little later - the "five" VFTS, prepared under the regulations of the 10th class of Group B.
Much has been written and said about how successful the Lithuanian "five" is. A sedan lightened to 980 kilograms with a 160-horsepower engine accelerated to 100 kilometers in 9 seconds, and its maximum speed was very close to 200 kilometers per hour. That is why the car from VFTS was unmatched in all-Union competitions and friendly races of the socialist countries. Now many collectors are trying to get themselves a similar "combat classics", but it is not easy to do this: there are not so many living copies left.
But the 10th grade of Group B is, of course, great and prestigious. However, Brundza and his team thought that Lad got to the 12th class - the same one where the monsters from Lancia, Audi and other manufacturers, with a capacity of three hundred or more forces, rode. Therefore, by 1985, the Lad2105-T16 VFTS sedan was prepared, which made its debut at the SOYUZ-1985 rally.
If outwardly the T16 version did not differ much from other VFTS "fives" - only a strange air intake on the hood attracted attention, then the car was structurally altered almost completely. The engine compartment was occupied by a practically new engine with two camshafts, 16 valves and … a turbine! Although the engine displacement was only 1,772 cubic centimeters, the excess pressure of 1 kilogram per cubic centimeter squeezed 240 horsepower out of the engine. A similar result, even in 2020, commands respect. But that motor was built on the basis of a serial block 35 years ago!
The foreign press reported that the development of the engine was completed back in 1981, but the engineers, apparently, took several additional years to teach the supercharging to get along with the Weber carburetor. Nevertheless, the very first special stage of SOYUZ-1985 showed that there was still plenty of work: the engine literally collapsed, preventing the car from completing the first competitive day.
There were several reasons why the promising engine was so unreliable. The main one is the carburetor system for supplying the mixture. Western motorsport teams used fuel injection (especially on turbocharged engines) with might and main, but the VFTS did not have the specialists who could quickly create such an injection system, nor the budgets to attract technology and customizers from abroad.
The second problem was the lack of an intercooler in the presence of an excess pressure of 1 bar. Although the air intake on the hood would do a good job of blowing a horizontal heat exchanger to the Subaru WRX STI motif.
The third reason for the failure was the location of the carburetors directly in front of the turbine. As soon as the throttle valve was closed, the oil entering the turbine under high pressure, due to rarefaction, was sent to the intake manifold and to the combustion chambers. The result is detonation and rapid destruction of the engine.
Nevertheless, during the short time that the car was on the move, he managed to seriously impress Stasis Brundza. “I remember when we built the first turbocharged Lada. The car was constantly skidding with the driving wheels, but the engine was unstable, and it collapsed at the very first special stage. But this was enough to understand that even very fast turns can be done with a controlled rear axle drift,”the Lithuanian racer recalled in 2007.
Although the experience with the 2105-T16 VFTS was generally considered unsuccessful, it became the basis for the appearance of another turbocharged Soviet car - the famous LadEVA, a poster with which, perhaps, every Soviet boy had in the 1980s. In the case of the EVs, the VFTS were no longer stingy with either the Lucas injection system or the tuners. As a result, the modified engine from the VAZ-2106 with a working volume of 1860 cubic centimeters was pumped up to 300 horsepower. However, this is another story, and no less dramatic - and we will certainly tell it too.
As for the 2105-T16 engine, it has survived to this day (at least one of the manufactured ones) and is now in the Bulgarian sports center GaburMotorsport. The company has completely restored a unique piece of Soviet motorsport history and is even ready to release replicas of it that will not fall apart after half an hour of annealing.
But there are two snags: the first - GaburMotorsport is ready to supply motors only in bulk (from 10-15 units), the second - the pleasure is very expensive. One gearbox for the engine, 6-speed "sequential", designed for 600 forces, costs almost 10 thousand euros. In the original, the 2105-T16 was equipped with a 5-speed gearbox.
Well, in the Soviet Union, the history of Soviet supercharged passenger cars ended with the 2105-T16 and EVA models. What other unusual engines were developed in the USSR, we will tell in the following materials. So check back often.
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