Bad to the bone


They often say the best innovations come from war and if you look at the kind of stuff that was invented, discovered or most of the time, just hastily put together in a bunker, there’s no denying it. And the deeper my interest takes me into Soviet-era machinery, the more fabulous and innovative is the stuff that rises to the surface. Now, the love for machines comes very naturally to me and I appreciate them right across the board – be it a SR71 spy plane or a beautiful Art Deco BMW R7 or heck, even if it’s a giant mech warrior from one of those manga cartoons. But the machine I’m on about here is probably unseen and unheard of, to most people – it’s at the exact other end of the spectrum.

Its badass to the point of being utterly unacceptable in civilized society, absolutely menacing and evil in a cold-hearted way and such a strain on the Earth’s resources, ten of these would’ve ended the world’s oil supplies in five minutes. Thankfully, ten weren’t made, as far as we know. It’s called the ZIL E167, an experimental cross-country truck meant for long-distance explorations into the frigid expanses of Siberia. It’s just a tiny cog in the ginormous Soviet war machinery and yet, it stands for everything the Soviets stood for. Function follows form in every bit, styling is brutally simplistic, each bit looks like it will withstand a nuclear attack and a meteorite hit simultaneously – essentially, it’s designed to survive the apocalypse. Like all Soviet machinery, then. Made by Zavod Imeni Likhacheva (ZIL), it features 1800 mm of fording depth, a 5-tonne payload capacity, air cleaning systems, on-board air pumps for the tyres, a tiny electric motor to pump water in case of fire, 6x6 all-wheel drive and two (yes, two) 3.5 litre, 180 bhp engine for forward propulsion. Plus, with 900 litres of fuel capacity and a lot of vodka in the cabin, a bunch of comrades could survive one of the harshest terrains on the planet.

Sadly though, they found another vehicle which served their purpose and this was scrapped forever, only to lie rotting around somewhere in a junkyard. This is but one example. The Soviets have made some of the most radical machinery ever and yet, most of their exploits are unknown and probably rotting away into the ground. Sad, but that’s the way it is. The thing that makes it even more interesting is the fact that the Ruskies never bragged about it or anything, unlike Uncle Sam who did a world tour screaming his lungs out every time they came up with a hat. Russia might not be the world-dominating giant it once was but if you ask me, they still deserve the highest regard.

[Attached is a video to show you what these vehicles are really capable of]