UAZ 452 Bukhanka
UAZ - Russia's Durable Classic Car
UAZ – pronounced WAZ – based out of picturesque Ulyanovsk, Russia, has been making the UAZ 452 Bukhanka since 1965. And never stopped. Why change a winning formula after all? The base van has remained virtually unchanged for over half a century. A UAZ is shaped like a loaf of bread – giving it the Bukhanka nickname.
To a casual outside observer that might suggest a dearth of innovation and lack of improvements that could have been made to the truck but not to you. No, the rugged style is a masterpiece of Russian engineering and simplicity. And the very best part of the unit still being made to this day is that it is never as hard to restore a UAZ as any of the vintage US step vans or classic European vintage food trucks because each and every replacement part is still available brand new and always in stock.
Few people will have seen a UAZ in the wild in the US, but the simplicity of the design makes this an easy fix even for mechanics new to the model. The engine and mechanical on the 452 Bukhanka (and other UAZ models) is straightforward and servicable by any workshop worth their salt.
European customers can even get a brand new UAZ food truck – for US import purposes we have to source a >25 year old base vehicle.
Why should I get a UAZ as a food truck?
Not only is the base reliable, it is super easy to service and spare parts are cheap and plentiful.
If you want a truck you can work on yourself – this is it.
Have you seen a UAZ food truck near you? Unless you live in the former Eastern Bloc the answer is probably no, and they share the unique curb appeal of other vintage food trucks.
A brand new Step Van starts from $65k or so – a brand new UAZ ? $12k.
Now taxes and exporting it to you will add some to that and can ruin your day, but that’s still a steal!
A Loaf to Love
UAZ are probably the most budget vintage food truck option out there. And extremely reliable. But is that really all you are looking for in partner? I hope not.
We can go deeper (as can the UAZ – great draft on it for van) and look in to the soul – the looks.
UAZ are quirky, different and novel. It just captures the imagination and has a character of its own, being a member of the select club of car models to have enthusiast fan clubs all around the world. Now you may not be a vintage car nut – but you certainly want fan boys as a food truck owner!
If you squint your eyes the UAZ even looks a bit like a VW bus, its Russian cousin if you will. Not a hippy bus but certainly a happy bus.
UAZ specialty conversions
If the loaf itself does not fit your needs you may be well serviced with the UAZ box truck – or a chassis cab, with all the reliability and 33% (just the head) of the looks that make it so attractive.
Food truck boxes can be made longer, wider and taller than the standard truck allowing a fuller kitchen and menu to be served from the UAZ and accomodating stricter county health requirements on minimum spacing and equipment size if necessary for your area.
And of course all boxes are custom – allowing us to add back some style and flair with rounded edges, paneling or simply with a beautiful graphic wrap.
What are the downsides of this beautiful Russian food truck?
The UAZ is not made in America – if you ever visited a Facebook group full of food truckers (and you should – it’s very helpful to be in those long before you start the journey) – you’ll know you’ll be tarred and feathered for not buying American.
If you can live with that because you’re Canadian or European – or you simply can – good on you.
UAZ are still not perfect: the unit is relatively small and narrow, limiting the options of food served and making some county requirements on aisle width or water tank size hard to meet.
Customers in countries with extortionate car taxes will want to consider a vintage unit too, despite the new being readily available, as taxes may more than triple the price – not usually worth the money versus the extra reliability over a used truck for this specific vehicle as the UAZ is uniquely decent as a vintage food truck too.
By assessing your dreams we come to a shared understanding of who we are building for and why
Exploring multiple design options lets us find the solution that best suits your business goals
We refine the concept and provide you with a detailed design that meets your needs
Close monitoring during production ensures we meet your standards. You can always fly- or drive in and take a look!
We offer a range of extra services to support your operation, so you can keep your focus.
Is a UAZ the right food truck base for you?
Frequently Asked UAZ, UAZ 452 and similar model related questions
Yes, it certainly is. The caveat is that your specific unit has to be over 25 years old to be DOT approved, so no new UAZ trucks for US customers but the old with new parts will do you just fine.
The current import tariff (2021 June) for classic European cars and trucks is 2.5%.
Containers go everywhere, and all units can always be shipped to the nearest port. We might not have a local forwarder in your country (yet) though, in which case we will find one together with you.
Karpatia has no showroom – but of course, we are always happy to show the workshop. You can make an appointment through our contact form and try before you buy. Right now we only have the models for show in Europe – US customers can get a virtual tour.