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RAF-10: the first Soviet minibus for the XNUMXth Student Festival

RAF-10: the first Soviet minibus for the XNUMXth Student Festival
In 1957, Moscow hosted the World Student Festival, and for this important event for the USSR, the Riga Automobile Factory (RAF) presented its gift to the country - it prepared the production of the first serial Soviet minibus RAF-10. What was special about this vehicle, unfamiliar to Soviet citizens?

The production of buses at the enterprise was established in 1953. Then the cars, designed for 29 seats, assembled on the basis of the GAZ-51, rolled off the assembly line. However, after 4 years, the plant employees got acquainted with VW minibuses and got excited about the idea of ​​organizing the production of the same equipment. It was created by the forces of only four enthusiasts, supported by the leadership. A new car was built using the Pobeda passenger car as the basis.


In terms of design, it was decided that the minibus would be designed for 10 seats (hence the model index was assigned) and arranged according to the wagon type. Following the then fashion, semicircular glass was installed between the roof and side panels of the body. However, they did not blindly copy Western analogues: for example, the engine was placed not at the back, as was typical for VW, but above the front axle.

РАФ-10: первый советский микроавтобус к VI Фестивалю студентовThe RAF-10 prototype was tested on the streets of Riga and aroused constant interest. Photo: YouTube.com

The motor was inside: between the driver and the side passenger, as in the current "loaf" UAZ-452.

The RAF-10 prototype managed to visit the VI Moscow Festival in May 1957, where it was favorably received by the public and passengers. But there were some downsides.

In preparation for mass production, changes were made to the design. The cooling system was modernized (a more capacious radiator was installed), the head optics were positioned differently, a different grille was installed and the chassis was strengthened.

An improved version with headlights spaced farther away. Photo: YouTube.com

At the rear of the car there is a luggage compartment with a separate door. And in the fall of 1958, the minibus, called the "Festival", was put on the conveyor. Until the end of the year, 11 units of equipment were produced. Some RAF-10 data:

✅ maximum speed - 80 km / h, up to 100 km / h in a modified version of 1958
✅ engine power - 52 hp With.
✅ fuel consumption per 100 km - 13 l
✅ weight - 1,64 tons

The motor, of course, was rather weak, although the RAF-10 is only 20 cm longer and 15 cm wider than the GAZ-M20. The minibus was prepared for large-scale production, but by this time the production of Pobeda had been discontinued. As a result, the "Festival" was redesigned for the engine, box and suspension of the new "donor" - GAZ-21. The updated car has already received a different index: RAF-977.


The second name of this version of the “Festival”, designed for 8 passengers, is “Spriditis”, which means “a boy with a finger”. And indeed: compared to the model described above, this one had a shortened body with four side windows on one side instead of five. But this is not the only difference: since the car was smaller, the engine was also installed weaker - MZMA-407 from Moskvich, which produced only 45 "horses". They also borrowed a gearbox and a rear axle from him. The salon turned out to be cramped, and the dynamics are worse. Although the maximum speed and fuel consumption remained the same as the first RAF-10.

RAF-08 was smaller in size. Photo: YouTube.com

This minibus did not go into the series, because it required improvements. The curb weight of Spriditis was 407 times greater than that of Moskvich-1,5. Therefore, the number of the main gear had to be changed upwards. To do this, wheel gears were integrated into the rear axle (hubs). Later, a chassis from the Volga GAZ-21 was installed in the car, and in order to somehow compensate for the large mass of the minibus, additional suspension springs were inserted inside the regular suspension springs. The braking system, rims and tires were also "Volgovsk". As a result, the modernized version of Spriditis was named RAF-978.


Photos used: https://youtube.com

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