Published on: Jan 18, 2016 @ 23:44 Originally Published in: 2015 (old website) (C) Jay Auger - website owner & author Notice: Any form of duplication methods (including but not limited to copy/paste of text and screen capture) of the website's content is strictly forbidden.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- LADA SAMARA EVA (Group B)
- S-PROTO (Group S)
- LADA SAMARA T3 (Paris-Dakar)
LADA SAMARA EVA (Group B)
Originally code-named the “Lada Turbo”, this mid-engine and rear-wheel drive prototype was built to loosely resemble the VAZ-2108 “Sputnik” (Samara) model, with high hopes to compete in the Group B rally scene. While it bears the Lada name, the original prototype is said to have been secretly built entirely from scratch by the same group of dedicated people also responsible for the Lada 2105 VIHUR rally cars, in a recluse section of a truck and bus factory in Tallinn, Estonia circa-1984.
Similar to other Group B rally cars, the Lada Turbo features spaceframe (tubular) construction draped with a “silhouette” body made of composite materials. The engine, based on the “Zhiguli” unit found in the 2106, was completely re-engineered to double-overhead camshafts and turbocharger specifications, capable of producing a claimed 300 BHP with a displacement of 1860cc.
The exterior featured front and rear opposite-opening clamshells made out of lightweight composites, making accessing key mechanical components easier while reducing weight. Striking design features included the use of ramped air extractors moulded in all four fenders of the car and the use of twin spoilers at the rear – all to help with high-speed aerodynamics and the production of downforce.
The project was at an engineering level uncommon for a private endeavour in the Soviet communist bloc as attribution of resources and materials were very limited and often restricted. Being then norm in Russia, official funding was very difficult to obtain, especially for motorsport applications, with a slew of paperwork and officials to overcome. The project was however so well-engineered that government approval was ultimately granted.
Funds were initially released to begin the production of the homologation units and for a racing programme within the official “Lada Rally” team. All further development of the car went under the wing of VFTS (Vilniusskaja Fabrika Transportnyh Sredstv), which was founded and then managed by famous Lithuanian rally driver Stasys Brundza. The car was hence renamed the EVA (Experimental Vilnius Auto-plant).
Between 20 and 30 units of the EVA are rumoured to have been built between 1985 and 1986, including some more basic cars that featured a 1568cc, 160 BHP naturally-aspirated engine coming directly from the firm’s own vault – the engine that powered the VFTS-2 and Lada 1600 rally cars. This was most likely done to lower costs since turbochargers were very scarce in the waning communist bloc. It is however uncertain that the omission of such an important feature would have fooled FISA inspectors at the time of homologation, but we’ll never know; shortly after the project’s official approval in 1986, the FISA cancelled Group B – thus entirely aborting further production of the EVA.
The Lada EVA might have been very successful on the national level if it had the opportunity to compete. However, on the international rally scene, it is highly doubtful that it could have competed against the fierce four-wheel drive opposition from the west. Yet, besides maybe the Moskvich-Aleko 2141KR, the Lada EVA was the best effort seen in the communist bloc to produce something we could consider worthy of being associated with Group B ambition.
S-PROTO (Group S)
In 1985, the FISA (former ruling committee of the FIA) announced a possible replacement category to Group B that was referred to as “Group S”. The new regulations would require only ten cars for homologation and was essentially a “prototype” class for rallying. Group S was originally scheduled to make its debut on January 1st 1988, then as a heavily-revised and forceful replacement to Group B for 1987, but both were agendas ultimately cancelled. To learn much more about the history of Group S, please CLICK HERE!
Lada, as with other manufacturers who saw their Group B aspirations go down the drain with the infamous ban, decided to recycle their efforts into the planned Group S replacement formula. The few dozen cars already built would theoretically suffice for Group S homologation, hence the remaining budget could allow for an even more evolved version of the EVA. Referred to as the “S-Proto”, it mainly featured an output of 50 more horsepower and some minor revisions. Theoretically totalling 350 BHP, this would net a 2.7 KG/HP (6.0 lb/hp) weight to power ratio, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Only one prototype is known to have been built, evolved directly from one of the existing EVA units. Retaining the same rear-wheel drive setup, the S-Proto would most likely have been one of the strongest contenders in national events of the communist bloc where conventional rally cars still abounded. However, Group S ultimately suffered the same fate as Group B and the project to convert more cars was cancelled.
LADA SAMARA T3 (Paris-Dakar)
If Lada’s bid in Group S would have been successful, future plans to improve the S-Proto were rumoured to have included the use of the Porsche 959‘s four-wheel drive drivetrain paired with a naturally-aspirated flat six engine from the German marque. While this might sound outlandish, Porsche and Lada actually collaborated on a few projects together in the late 1970s and, when you consider that many Soviet cars were then rear-engined, the association becomes logical.
Although a seemingly quite complex and costly conversion, this concept was in fact made a reality a few years later with the Lada Samara T3 Paris-Dakar special. In 1990, Jacky Ickx, who previously drove the Niva for Lada in the famous race, would finish 7th overall in the Samara T3. Didier Auriol would improve on this result by finishing 5th overall the following year. The Samara T3 is said to having been a direct evolution of the Lada EVA / S-Proto’s technical design, hence making the entire span of the project not going totally to waste.
EVA / S-PROTO SPECIFICATIONS
|Conception / Production||1984~86||# built:
|Type||I-4, DOHC 16v, gas||mid-mounted, longitudinal|
|Displacement||1860 cc||WRC = 2604 cc|
|Output Power – Torque||
||boost: 8~12 psi|
|Type||full spaceframe with roll cage, composite panels, windows, and clamshells|
|Steering System||–||ratio: –|
|length: –||width: –||height: –|
|wheelbase: –||front track: –||rear track: –|
|Rims – tires||
|Dry/Unladen Weight||960 kg (2115 lb) *estimated|
(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner, chief editor and main author
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