From the moment of its creation and up to 1955 in the assortment of production of the Lviv Bus Plant named after 50 years of the USSR included: truck cranes and spare parts for them, electric vehicles, chassis for trailers, trailers themselves, specialized trailers for transporting bread, vans, truck trailers ... In general, the plant produced everything except the buses themselves. And only on August 17, 1955, the technical council of the plant during an extended meeting identified those. policy and direction of development of bus transport production.
Prototypes of LAZ buses
A design bureau was created specifically for the bus experimental workshop at the plant, and V.V. Osepchugov. The main staff of the bureau was represented by young designers who recently graduated from the automotive institutes.
Initially, it was planned to launch production of a ready-made ZIS-155 bus model at LAZ. However, the ambitious young team of the KB categorically opposed such a prospect and suggested creating their own car. The idea was supported by senior management, and especially for LAZ, so that work would not start from scratch, the latest European buses at that time were purchased: Magirus, Neoplan and Mercedes. Factory engineers literally dismantled them in a cog, carefully studying the design features of imported cars.
As a result, by the end of 1955, the prototype bus was almost ready. For the first time, a power base consisting of pipes having a rectangular section was used in it. The frame of the bus body was tightly connected with the base. At the same time, the engine of the machine, which was also a novelty, was located longitudinally in its rear part.
The wheel suspension of the plant’s design bureau was developed jointly with US engineers. It was a dependent, spring-spring construction, the rigidity of which increased in proportion to the increase in load. Therefore, the bus load did not affect the comfort of passengers. This has become another distinguishing feature of Lviv cars.
In 1956, the first city LAZ-695 rolled off the assembly line of the plant, which became the prototype of future long-distance modifications.
The beginning of the "tourist" path
In the fall of 1958, the Lviv Automobile Plant produced a prototype bus designed for intercity communications. Because. that the car was planned to be used for long-distance transport, he received an addition to the number index - "Tourist". The new bus was a joint product of car factory engineers and designers of the NAMI Institute.
In addition to the fact that the "Tourist" received a number of design changes that distinguished it from the prototype (LAZ-695), the designers tried to create a comfortable environment for passengers.
Screen doors located at both ends of the passenger compartment were replaced with one single-leaf door that opened manually. The roof of the car was made sliding.
For the microclimate in the cabin LAZ-697 "Tourist" was responsible for two systems:
- heating heater type;
- forced ventilation equipped with a humidifier.
The salon was designed for 33 seats.
The passenger seat had a rather comfortable design, with the ability to adjust the backrest. In addition, each place was equipped with: an individual night light, a grid designed for books, newspapers or magazines, as well as an ashtray.
For the guide provided a separate additional chair - 34th, with the ability to rotate 180 degrees.
It was this Lviv bus that was first designated by the ZIL brand name - the letter “L” in a chrome frame. Further, such a sign began to designate all subsequent models and modifications of machines produced by the plant.
The finished prototype was presented at the exhibition of achievements of the national economy, in the new category - "Intercity buses." After participating in the Exhibition of Economic Achievements, the bus was sent with a tour group consisting of the most distinguished workers of the plant on a trip to socialist Poland and Czechoslovakia.
In the early summer of 1959, LAZ created another version of the "Tourist", under the same marking number, but which had a number of design differences from the first prototype.
Major changes were made to the roof of the bus: its sliding model was replaced with a huge sunroof (1.8 x 2.7 m), which reduced the glazing area of the roof slopes. For the first time on this model, an air intake was installed above the windshields, which provided natural ventilation for the cabin. In shape, it resembled a visor from a cap. All subsequent buses were equipped with such a visor, which became a distinctive feature of LAZs. Also, the legacy of all subsequent bus models was the increased size of the window, first installed on the LAZ-697 double.
Luggage space was equipped directly under the passenger compartment floor. Baggage was loaded outside through special side hatches located on the sides of the bus.
The power unit was a ZiL-164 engine. Suspension spring type (4 semi-elliptic springs) with springs for correction.
For 2 years in a row, this Lviv bus was presented as an exhibit at international exhibitions: in 1959 - in France, and in 1960 - in Switzerland.
Serially produced cars differed from prototypes in the power unit. A 109-horsepower ZIL-158A engine was installed on intercity buses. The same engine was received by the city ones - LAZ-695B.
LAZ-697: technical specifications
- The dimensions of the bus, m - 9.19 x 2.5 x 2.99 (length, width, height, respectively).
- Curb weight - 6 t 950 kg.
- The total weight of the machine is 10 tons 230 kg.
- Ground clearance - 27 cm.
- The top speed is 80 km / h.
- The power of the power unit is 109 l / s.
- Gearbox - mechanical with five steps.
- Clutch - single-disc type, dry, equipped with hydraulic drive.
- The width of the doorway is 84 cm.
- The number of seats for passengers is 33.
- The width of the passage is 45 cm.
- The minimum turning radius is 9.6 m.
After the release of the LAZ-697 series, the development of the car did not stop there, and over time 4 more modifications of the intercity bus appeared:
- LAZ - 697E;
- LAZ - 697M;
- LAZ - 697N;
- LAZ - 697R.
Since 1961, the ZIL plant began to supply new engines for the Lviv buses, 150-horsepower units from ZIL-130. These engines were installed on both city and intercity buses, because of which the marking of the produced models changed (the letter “E” was added) - LAZ-695E and LAZ-697E, respectively.
The result of the changes was an increase in the maximum bus speed to 87 km / h. However, the supplied lots of new engines were small, so along with the modified models, the plant continued to produce “old” buses. Externally, the "old" and "new" cars did not differ from each other.
This continued until 1964, when the Zilovskiy deliveries of power units became regular, and the new engine completely replaced the old model.
It was from this year that the modified bus received minor external changes - the wheel arches became round in shape, and the falling side moldings were removed from the car. On this update ended, and in this form the bus was produced until 1969.
In 1970, the traditional bus model received more profound changes that affected both the intercity bus and its city counterpart, both cars also received the letter “M” for their digital marking. Now they were called LAZ-697M and LAZ-695M (long-distance and city, respectively).
The designers completely abandoned the glazing of the roof slopes, but the area of the side windows increased. In addition, the engine air intake pipe, which used to be installed at the rear of the bus, disappeared. It was replaced by side deflectors.
The changes also affected the transmission of the car. The factory rear axle was replaced with a more advanced - “Slave”, made in Hungary, and the steering was equipped with a power steering.
However, the first demonstration model, which the factory workers presented at the Moscow exhibition back in 1969, was somewhat different from serial buses in the design of the front of the car and the presence of several emergency exits, which replaced the traditional glass.
Serial production of the LAZ-697 M lasted until 1975, by which time another modification of the Tourist, the LAZ-697N, was already being prepared to replace it. By the way, a complete transition to the new machine was carried out gradually, before the models, which are a hybrid of two modifications, came off the assembly line of the plant. The front of the body was still from the LAZ-697M, and the back already from the new LAZ-697N.
The letter "H", replacing the "M" in the index of the car, appeared after the serial LAZ-697M increased the size of the windshields. They did it in 1973. But for the first time a car with such an index was presented at the exhibition of achievements in Moscow back in 1971. In fact, it was the old 697M, but with an updated front design.
Mass production of buses began in 1975. In parallel, preparations were underway for the production of the next car, which was to go into series in two years, and get the LAZ-697P index. And while the transition period was going on, intermediate models began to leave the assembly line with the introduced design changes.
For example, in these cars the vents were completely removed from the side windows, replacing them with a solid glass sheet, and the external air intake located on the roof of the bus was responsible for the interior ventilation. In the rear overhang there was another entrance swing door.
The production of another modification, the LAZ-697P, began, as planned, in 1978. Traditionally, the new bus was slightly different from the old one. The most striking difference between LAZ-697R and LAZ-697N was the lack of a rear entrance door, it was again decided to refuse it, due to the fact that its presence reduced the number of seats. Well, another sign that could distinguish the new model from the old one is the location of the turn signals. In the LAZ-697P, the direction indicators had a more modern square shape and were located directly above the headlights. The LAZ-697N turn signals were located on the side of the headlights, their shape was round.
Transition to history
All modifications of the 697 series buses belonged to the middle class, and time did not stand still. I needed a car with a lot of seats. Therefore, in 1985, the production of the old "Tourists" was completely discontinued. They were replaced by a new 41-seater LAZ-699, sending the 697th series to the category of “retro buses”
Our days and Lviv retro "Tourist"
More than half a century has passed since the first prototype bus with the LAZ-697 marking appeared. But so far among the private announcements you can find notices of the sale of cars of this series. And it should be noted that retro buses are not only in working condition, but also in pretty good condition. Of course, for long-distance trips it would hardly occur to anyone to use such a machine, but for private collections it would be quite suitable. In addition, the cost of the bus is relatively low.
But there are exceptions. The museum of urban transport in Kiev is one of the modifications of the "Tourist" - LAZ-697M. This bus is one of several models (experts say that there are only three of them), which have been preserved in its original form, and even in running condition. He got into the museum after the restoration carried out at the LAZ plant. And, frankly, if this is really one of the three surviving cars, then the real cost of the bus is hard to imagine.
By and large, what the price of an old car does not matter, it is important that there are people who are not indifferent to the history of the development of motor vehicles in the USSR.