Good whatever time of day it is in your area, men! I’m writing from Ust-Kamenogorsk City, Kazakhstan. Now, let me tell you about my little RC piece.

The body is made of expanded PVC. Units are made of toys. Radio control systems are all low-budget and proportionate. This happened to be my first experience in all aspects.

Now I would like to describe what this is all about. Here comes my somewhat extended explanation.

From childhood years I’ve been crazy about detailed replicas of Soviet automobile industry products, making them out of whatever I have close at hand and of all sizes. Later this whole thing evolved into crafting 1:43 bus models, as well as add-on tops for commercial miniature truck models. I even got so far as to launch low-volume production of these.

As I had already chosen my vector, and because of other circumstances, I had little interest in the exciting branch that was RC modeling. I needed a RC bug to bite me. One day I headed a RC car modeling department at a local club of young engineers. Apart from having to actually start it from the ground up, I had to study all tricks of RC modeling. I had been a member of what was then a regional race track modeling club (now it is a municipal club), and track modeling had died with the track itself several years before. Needless to say, bench top models alone would not get me far. Indeed, the RC branch of modeling is the most flexible and exciting one, and it is highly advisable to teach it to young people. And my mission was to show my students what I could do.

Money is another integral element of any RC hobby. Certainly, I did not have enough. In any event, what I had would not buy me high quality equipment. The first Regional RCB-10 competition (figure driving) with my participation as a coach was utterly messed up, as I came up with a puny little sort-of-drift RC car, which they had bought at some randomly chosen little backdoor store. Too late I found out that it was a barely controllable rattletrap of aches and pains from China. They managerial staff wouldn’t buy anything, they’d just press on me to redesign the little shit and “get it going.”

What could I do about it? I had just two options: to get stuck with this little ‘masterpiece’ from China, which would be of little use, or, to hell with it, craft a brand-new piece. Whichever I’d chose, I had no experience with RC models.

Wonder why I chose not to redesign what I had? It is all so familiar to everyone: I was itching to do a new thing.

The idea of crafting a Zaporozhets was quite spontaneous. I had two reasons to choose this kind of wheels: my passion for Soviet cars and compact size. The latter sounded promising to me in terms of weight and dimension.

Extended PVC is an innovation for our hobbyists. Honest, I had turned up nose at it until recently, as I had been more accustomed to good old and strong polystyrene refrigerator parts than fragile and spongy PVC. Finally, PVC was not much of a trouble.

I started with the sides of the body using 3mm and 8mm PVC panels.

When the sides began to take shape.

Next come the door frames…

I cut windows to fit them to each piece of glass that I had.
Here are the rear side of the body and raw parts of the front side.

Simultaneously, I was crafting chassis. In fact, the model does not feature chassis; there are two lateral bars that connect the front and rear axles, which are mounted on them. I ended up with an integrated body. The wheels, the speed reduction drive with a differential, motor, and semi-axles, the steering linkage – I borrowed aall that from a toy car. I needed a wider wheeltread, so I had to replace the rear axles.

Initially, I wanted to incorporate the system from the toy, so I would not throw away the motor from the steering linkage. Later, I put a small servo in there, which I had taken from an old airplane. It proved powerful enough!
There is hardly a more primitive suspension system out there than this one. I added springs to the front axle. The entire rear axle mechanism is held by two axles fixed to the body. It was the same as on the ‘donor’ toy, except I used metal body-borne axles in my model instead of the plastic ones used in the toy. The cover of the ‘motor-reduction-differential’ system is backed by springs from two sides and pivoted to the axles: the front part is fixed to a removable element of the chassis, and the rear part is held by a mount glued into the body.
The chassis is held tightly only at four points near the middle – you can see the screws on the picture. I can quickly disassemble it when necessary.

Gradually, the body accumulated elements. I reinforced the two cross bars with metal angles.

The engine compartment features replicas of the internal parts of the “Zaporozhets ears”. I had planned to create a detailed replica of the engine, but I had to give up this idea because I had no time for that.

Now it is time for the first decent test-drive. An outdoor test would be too tough for us on a winter day, so we went to a local competition hall, where RC aircraft hobbyists were competing. The systems had been borrowed from the Chinese rattletrap. Surprisingly, the toy engine solemnly came through the ordeal of working on nickel-cadmium batteries and a two-cell Lipo, which I had borrowed from RC aircraft hobbyists.
That was the first version of the body, which still had something to be desired. Also, I wanted to replace the tires with more decent ones. Finally, it needed new equipment.
It turned out to be a good crash-test for the body. The car went off the track and tumbled about one meter down. We got off with nothing more than a tiny split-off from the front overhang and a cracked pillar. It wouldn’t take more than a minute to fix that:)
I made the hood and the trunk removable, and they are attached to the body with tiny magnets.

A bit of caulking, sanding, padding… Then one more time.

And, finally, painting!

I ordered equipment: a tramsmitter, controller, charger, and servos.
While the stuff was on its way to my home, I could calmly finish the body and design the interior.

The steering wheel is made of wire.

The dashboard on the top

...and in its place.

I cut the rear lamps out of a lamp lens and used aluminum foil tape underlays. All tiny lamps are molded from white epoxy; some of them from epoxy with an orange color agent.

I used wooden headlamp rims. The the lens and reflectors are made of transparent plastic, and I had to use formers. The windshield and rear window are also made of flexible transparent plastic. The side windows are made of plexiglass.

Here is the front decoration. I remember, every second KamAZ had it.

Here are windshield wipers and a lateral rearview mirror. I also soldered an interior rearview mirror, gear stick, and door handles.

I made PVC seats and lined the ceiling and sides with cardboard, and self-adhesive. Bumpers are made of polystyrene and bolted to the body through rubber cushions. These provide a reliable and springy shock protection. Now I can boldly crash into walls, which my students did a lot in the aftermath.

(This photo shows Nikita Tchashin’s - my student's - funny joke; you can see his Hot Rod behind)
Plates are made of thick foil with the number extruded from the inner side.

Finally, the systems arrived. I had no difficulty connecting and adjusting it. Happily, the controller’s wires had an optimal length, so I could place the transmitter in the trunk (Zaporozhets has it at the front) and the controller – in the engine compartment without messing with the wires. The battery was too big-sized, so I had to move the backseat forward and place the battery behind it. The battery wires go through the wall and into the engine compartment. This is what it looks like when I need to charge the battery.

After four and a half months of work I could hold my first photo shoot and carry out my first ‘official’ launches. :)

On the very first day of intense driving I made a sharp turn (the result was a tiny piece of paint peeling off and a deformed rearview mirror mount), and hit a stone with one of the front wheels (resulted in servo damage).
I could have replaced the servo with a better one. However, going after a low-hanging fruit was not my style. I replaced the crumbled gear-wheel with one, which I had picked effectively from an inertia toy car. Now the mechanism boasted higher reliability than the standard one. That was it for breakdowns :)
On the next day – the May Day – my students demonstrated and successfully drove their RC cars at a city show. The Zaporozhets participated too. Spectators were delighted.

Now I was in for an important business: learn the track before an oncoming competition.
We came across a street racers’ hangout on the outskirts and there sketched the track.

There were no problems, except for the engine’s gear-wheel slipping off the axle, which pretty much got me down. I had to glue it and give up driving it up steep hills, also because it was not really intended for that. I made a few more upgrades like replacing the bumpers with broader ones and placing a driver figurine in it. To be on the safe side, I got some spare motors.

Finally, the much longed-for regional competition! It took place in Aktubinsk City in September. My model enjoyed attention of participants from around the country, and not only RC car hobbyists.

There my students set up an informal interregional Zaporozhets vs. Lamborgini drag-racing contest, and the Zaporozhets won! In the competition, we did very well. Honest, I did not like the track. It was almost off-road, all in bumps and hollows, but there was no choice. Our rivals were strong and daring, and the two guys opposing highway models proved the strongest, as they drove… one-to-ten four-wheel-drive buggies. That was permitted by the rules and, considering the track’s quality… However, we did win a prize.

I only worried about the engine. That poor and shameful motor from a toy car, which was supposed to go down pretty soon and, as everyone had said, had to be replaced with a more powerful one, honorably passed the test.

My conclusion was: a model using toy parts could par with an expensive (and modified) store-bought one!

However, I need to move ahead. I have all that I need – companions, knowledge, money, etc. Our club will definitely come up with a new and more advanced model. It will be our student who will build it.

Thanks for reading. Please, use your head and hands :)

P.S. Here is a video showing the model:
This is the translated version. You can read the original Russian article here.