What could be more American than taking a fairly cheap, rugged-as-hell vehicle and thrashing it offroad? Nothing, except that the Russians are clearly doing it better. The five vehicles you see below were built to help Russians survive the legendarily harsh winters — practical, yes, but they also look insanely fun to drive. They’re pretty cheap, too, which makes it even more of a shame that we can’t buy them Stateside.
1. Aton Impulse Viking 29031
Starting at: $200,000
For people who actually live in the most remote corners of Siberia, picking an offroad-capable vehicle is a bit more life and death than making sure Sarah Palin isn’t staring into your backyard. The Aton Impulse Viking 29031, for example, exists specifically so that its owners won’t have to call for an expensive rescue helicopter every time there’s an emergency. That being said, it can probably prevent most frozen tundra related emergencies anyway. It’s also a boat: the whole vehicle is watertight, and it’s capable of speeds of over 7 mph in lakes and rivers thanks to a water jet mounted on its back.
2. Trecol Trucks
Starting at: $22,536
Is this a serious-looking 6×6 truck? Yes. Are those tires basically overgrown beachballs attached to the wheels? Also yes, and they’re pretty damn cool: Trecol designed the tire system in-house, hoping to make some that could withstand the harshness of a Siberian winter but not damage the ground at the same time. The result is ultra-low pressure, highly flexible tires, that can be used to float the whole truck, or for this:
Trecol is everything you’d imagine a Russian company to be, employing guys with names like Smirnov (really), building some of the craziest off-road vehicles in the world for obscenely low prices (starting at just over $22,000 for the base model), and testing said vehicles bydriving over their living colleagues
5. UAZ Hunter
Starting at: $6,952
Originally developed in 1971 as a Red Army version of the Jeep, the UAZ-469 is still produced today in a civilian form known as the Hunter. It’s largely unchanged from the original iteration, and you can pick one up brand new for just over have a million rubles, which comes out to $8,000. For that, you get a cigarette lighter, seats, rear-view mirrors, and power steering. To put it a different way, whereas the Land Rover Defender and Toyota Land Cruiser grew to become monstrously expensive 4x4s, the Hunter is still cheap enough to drive into the ground… and back out of it.