On June 29, an expedition to Elbrus started from Togliatti. Five people and two Lada 4x4, specially prepared for the ascent. How high are they planning to climb? Why do they need it? How are their cars arranged? We have learned everything and now we are sharing with you.
Who are these people?
The Savages project is a part of AVTOVAZ's image program called "Lada Like". AVTOVAZ has set itself a rather ambitious goal - with the help of a small team to show the limit of the capabilities of products under the Lada brand.
Everything is real here - emotions, drive, and risk. The line-up includes pilots Roman Fesenko and Andrey Golovin, videographer Maxim Kalinichenko, photographer Elena Sheina and leader Sergei Rodin. And the total staff of "Savages" is only 12 people.
In 2021, when the "Savages" project was just beginning, none of these people had anything to do with the conquest of off-road. But already in 2021 the team managed to take the third place in the "trial" discipline at the prestigious competitions in Karelia.
We can say that the beginners are lucky, but the trip to Elbrus for the "Savages" is already the fourth serious expedition. Over the years, they traveled about 65,000 kilometers and visited about 120 interesting places.
"Savages" travel exclusively in Lada 4x4, but the preparation of cars from expedition to expedition differs. For example, this time it was decided to abandon the snorkel - there are no deep fords on the road, and there is not enough oxygen in the mountains to further limit its flow into the engine.
Who made the cars and how much does it cost?
Preparing the cars was carried out by the Togliatti company F-Design, which has been manufacturing off-road equipment and special preparation of Lada 4x4 and Chevr152et Niva cars for 20 years.
The competence of the company includes the development, construction, design, manufacturing technology, production and installation of everything that can increase the off-road potential of the machine.
Usually, improvements fit into the price of 50,000 to 200,000 rubles, but there are also fans who ask to "pump" an SUV for 700,000-800,000 rubles, as a result of which a simple Russian car turns into an orthodox all-terrain vehicle.
Work on the machines for the "Savages" was carried out in total time pressure, but the guys from F-Design coped with it. The version was named "Wild Edition", and if the expedition finishes successfully, it has a chance to reach sales through the Lada dealer network in the form of "installation kits" or even ready-made cars. So, what kind of cars are these?
How are the cars arranged?
The preparation of the cars was done in about half of the usual price list - there are no major alterations here.
This is the point - to show the capabilities of almost serial Lada 4x4. Here is the standard "Nivov" transmission, although the developer company has in its arsenal both locks and sets of final drive gears with a large gear ratio. Cars do not have an "elevator" either - simply because the high center of gravity of the car in the mountains greatly interferes.
But some of the things in the rocky terrain are indispensable. Both cars were fitted with Bridgestone All Terrain tires, which allow normal movement on asphalt and work very well on stones.
These wheels have a very hard side that is difficult to cut or puncture. Dimension 215/75 R15 is the maximum that can be allowed on a car without modifications. But the arches still had to be cut out so as not to damage the body, since most of the ascent will take place with chains installed on the wheels. The wheels added about 15 mm of ground clearance to the cars, now it is about 220 mm.
Non-standard wheels required modifications to the rear suspension, because serial rods are in the rear suspension when installing such wheels enough for a maximum of 3,000 kilometers.
The Lada 4x4 Wild Edition has reinforced rods of a larger section and silent blocks with a powerful bushing, borrowed from front-wheel drive Lada. In addition, there are more efficient shock absorbers at the front and rear.
There is a tubular sill protection on the sides of the cars, which is not afraid of stones, but in front and behind the protective function is taken over by the original power bumpers. They are made of steel and are not afraid of damage when driving through forests and mountains. When overcoming serious pits, they can fearlessly rest against the ground.
A winch is installed in the upper part of the bumper, developing an effort of 3 tons, and in the lower part the bumper is connected to the protection of the engine, gearbox and "transfer case", as a result of which a "ski" is obtained with which you can force obstacles in motion. The protection is made of 3mm steel sheet and is an inexpensive solution compared to aluminum structures.
A powerful hitch is located on the rear bumper, as well as one of the pivots of the swivel bracket, on which the "spare" is fixed, - such a wheel is no longer in its regular place under the hood climbs. The second, the upper support of the bracket is located on the rear pillar of the body and is attached to it by three bolts with nuts and a shaped steel "washer" from the inside. The swivel bracket "opens" with a gas stop, and in the closed position, together with the wheel, "snaps" to the rear (more precisely, to the counterpart of the bracket) with a mechanical shutter.
From the rear bumper you can climb the ladder to the top, where the original trunk is located - instead of a full second tier, it has a box with a capacity of 330 liters. A "hi-jack" (special off-road jack) is attached to the same trunk and additional LED headlights for low and high beam are installed, controlled by separate toggle switches from the passenger compartment. As a result of improvements, the car became heavier by about 100 kg.
Light styling in the cabin. Attention is drawn to the original covers with the "Savages" logos and the dashboard trimmed with flock.
The steering wheel rim is trimmed with leather, and the seats have pronounced lateral support. The design of the floor tunnel is also original: comfortable cup holders, platforms for little things, no obvious "sticks". From the special equipment - a USB-splitter fixed on the lining of the tunnel, a walkie-talkie with a 3-kilometer range and an inverter giving 220 V.
How do Lada 4x4 Wild Edition travel?
The members of the "Savages" project were so kind that literally on the day of the start of the expedition they gave us cars for a short test. We were very happy, but unfortunately, we upset the guys a little.
No, we didn’t turn the expeditionary Ladas over and we didn’t even break anything. But they found one strange defect.
With a strong roll of one of the cars to the starboard side, gasoline began to flow out quite actively from the neck of the tank filled with a plug. Later, the same thing was found on the second car - the car was tilted to the starboard side, the plug was tightly tightened, and gasoline was flowing from under the hatch. The expedition had to start with this problem in mind, and we began to figure it out.
We contacted the AVTOVAZ Consumer Satisfaction Center, about the work of which we wrote in detail earlier. It turned out that the same defect was recently discovered on another car - one of the buyers of the new Lada 4x4 called with it to the MCC. The defect consisted in a leak in the thread on the filling pipe of the gas tank.
The fact is that this thread is not solid, but segmental, and sometimes the "tightening" between the segments is such that fuel can leak into them. Measures have already been taken: all three defects (two "ours" and one "custom") were found on cars produced in April, so the batch of gas tanks produced during this period was completely rejected.
And a "landing party" was sent to the plant supplying gas tanks, which formed a post on the gas tank assembly line that monitors the strictest adherence to the technical process and analyzes the tightness of the thread.
If the defect reappears, it is possible that they will change to a solid thread, rather than a segmental thread. And the "Savages" were saved by the old-style gas tank plugs - they have a middle part that goes deep into the neck of the gas tank and closes off all leaky places.
As for the rest ..
. Lada 4x4 Wild Edition is, of course, nostalgia. But with a certain touch! Yes, not rolled cars are accelerated (on the odometers - only about 70 km) are reluctant, they also slow down (maybe the increased weight affects), but with the "Niva" it has always been like this - if you drive it for a long time, then you get used to its character and forgive all for the freedom that she grants on the road.
In a low gear, with "special" wheels in its arsenal, Lada 4x4 Wild Edition is ready to literally drive into vertical walls. This is it, this feeling! Ironing the lanes, we climb deeper and deeper into the woods near Togliatti and begin to envy fiercely those four guys and one girl who are going to conquer Elbrus in these cars right now.
And then we get out onto the asphalt and ... it seemed to us, or did it really become quieter ?! Surprisingly, recent measures to reduce the inherent "Niva" noise and vibration in the transmission seem to have yielded some results. The smoothed background noise is especially noticeable if you turn off the fan, which has to be turned on at the second speed in 30-degree heat.
But it's great that this car now has an air conditioner! In the stretch to Elbrus and back, this piece will be of great use to travelers.
Front seats? They are really good for their lateral support, but for some they may seem cramped, in addition, an excessively stiff back does not push in enough back, as a result of which you always feel some excess pressure in the mid-spine. However, who has a backbone, probably ...
But in general, when you get out of the car, you look at it at last and ask yourself: "Would you like this?" - the inner voice immediately yells happily: "Yes!" Because Lada 4x4 Wild Edition is the Niva, which was turned into a very interesting car with budgetary and completely serial means.
Route and plans
Savages started to Elbrus from Tolyatti along the highway through Saratov and Volgograd. On July 1, after reaching the foot of Elbrus and renting clothes and equipment, the team went through a mandatory training session. The ascent itself is planned to be completed within eight days, from 2 to 9 July. A day of rest is planned for July 10, and from 11 to 13 - the way back.
The expedition should solemnly finish in Togliatti on July 14.
The guys want to climb to the very top of Elbrus, to a height of 5,642 meters, and raise the Lada flag there. Most of the road is planned to be covered by cars: the approximate minimum for cars is 3,800 meters. "And then - how will the Emergencies Ministry take us down," - jokes (or not jokes?) Sergei Rodin. As our experts say, Lada 4x4 feels quite well at altitudes up to 4,200-4,300 meters.
In Project Savages, there are three rules that all project participants strictly adhere to:
- If taking a point threatens the life or health of team members, the point is canceled.
- If the capture of the point threatens the vehicle, the capture is canceled.
- The point is taken in all cases that do not contradict rules 1 and 2.
July 7 appeared on the official page of the project "VKontakte" such a note: "Hello everyone. Because of bad weather, the ascent was stopped.
Hail and rain broke the road. Cars left at altitudes of 3,000 and 3,450 meters. If the weather calms down, we will continue climbing tomorrow. And so, in any case, tomorrow on foot 4,700 meters. " Attached to the post is the song "Clouds" by the group Ivanushki International :)
We managed to get in touch with the guys, and it turned out that in the training walking mode they had so far managed to reach an altitude of 4,200 meters.
So, ahead of the last two, the most important days - taking the height of 4,700 meters and the summit, 5,642 meters. We wish the expedition members good luck!