Your eyes are not deceiving you, that really is an old truck power sliding around a dirt corner on a rally course. We got tipped off to this madness by our buddy Arild who found this video and passed it along. They are crazy for rally racing in Estonia and they’ll race anything. Typically the cars that compete are what you would expect. Small stuff that is either all wheel drive or two wheel drive, but they have a class called E13 that is designated for the kind of trucks that you see in the lead photo above. Let us be very clear here. These are not lumbering trucks going 20mph, no they have been highly modified to handle jumping and to achieve speeds that are double and probably closer to triple their original limit.
The trucks are nearly all old GAZ Russian built pieces. Those trucks were offered with a couple of different “small block” V8s in them when new although horsepower was in the 120-150hp range. As you will see in the video, they have been wicked WAY up and the trucks have been geared as to achieve speeds that look all the world to be bordering on the triple digit zone. When you see a couple of these trucks crest hills and catch real air you will believe us as well. The suspensions, however basic must have been tweaked as well because these guys are able to drift and save them better than you would any truck with stock suspension and steering characteristics. They seems really responsive and they seems to act like an actual racing vehicle rather than a lumbering old tank.
GAZ trucks were built in Russia and exported all over Europe. They were also made in Bulgaria for a time, apparently. Styling, even into the 1980s had all the appearances of a 1950s era International. It was a simple case of having a utilitarian vehicle and because the GAZ was probably the “only game in town” when it came to buying a truck in your Communist neighborhood, there was no real reason for a “mid cycle refresh” every couple of years.
The one thing we think is cool and smart about these trucks above all else is the “halo” style roll bar that covers the cab. The bad extends all the way over the cab in an arch so that if the truck rolls over, the cab itself will be completely protected. When you see the speeds that these guys are running you will totally understand the cage. Finally, it was a little jarring to hear V8 goodness when we were expecting to hear the clattering noise of a diesel. Not so! Small displacement but hot rodded, there’s plenty of power to get these old wagons moving!
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO WATCH ESTONIAN RALLY TRUCKS IN ACTION –