Rolling across an auction block in England is an opportunity to have the talking point of any campsite. This 1986 ZIL 131 is a massive 6×6 military truck with a utilitarian camper on the back for your treks through Siberia or Minnesota.
I’ve been seeing a lot of off-road camper builds lately. While out in California for King of the Hammers I saw a little bit of everything from school buses with chunky tires to old Deuce and a Half trucks built out by preppers. Military trucks are still pretty stunning to me for the purpose of camping because the things get pretty huge and slow. But if you want a military truck camper, and like things a little more Soviet, this auction spotted by Silodrome might have what you’re looking for.
Zavod Imeni Likhachyova (ZIL) was one of Russia’s largest vehicle manufacturers. The company built just about everything over its just about a century of existence from sleek roadsters to the limousines used by the Soviet elite. We took a look inside of the factory that built those limos back in 2012, just before the company itself went bankrupt that same year.
ZIL also had a history of building rugged commercial and military trucks.
Introduced in the early 1960s, the ZIL-131 was built alongside its ZIL-130 civilian counterpart. The two trucks are pretty refreshing in how simple they are. There’s nothing too sophisticated on these trucks. I mean, we’re talking about solid axles with leaf springs and the whole thing is stopped with drum brakes. These were produced long after the fall of the Soviet Union and made it all of the way until 2012, selling more than a million copies along the way. And at no point in that time did they even get fuel injection.
So what you get is a dead-simple truck designed to survive the worst Russia can throw at it. Russian military news site Top War notes that by the 1970s these trucks earned a reputation for being simple, rugged, unpretentious off-roaders. And over time, these were used for just a bit of everything from a semi-tractor, tanker, rocket launcher, command centre, a dump truck and more.
The one is a mobile command centre model and it appears to be largely original, keeping the military vibes intact.
That bed, TV, sink and twin gas burners aren’t original, but are definitely a welcome sight for the truck.
And to help with driving the huge thing, reverse lights were added as well as a reverse camera that has its screen hidden in the glove compartment. Other modern touches include solar panels, but sadly, you won’t find a bathroom here.
The hardware side of the truck is less impressive. Power comes from a 7.0-litre multifuel V8 making 150 horsepower. Like an American multifuel truck these will run on gasoline, diesel or probably anything that burns. The engine moves the 6 T truck through a five-speed manual and six-wheel-drive to a slog of a top speed of 80 km/h. At least you get a central tire inflation system to make off-roading easier.
But at least once you get there you’ll turn heads. It’s in pretty good condition, too. The ZIL 131 has just 7,947 km on its odometer, perfect glass and has even passed MOT.
To give you an idea of what the owner is looking to get for this thing, it was listed on the same site in December for about $US25,005 ($34,712). Currently, bidding is at $US4,200 ($5,830) without reserve met. Then after you buy the thing, you’ll pay at least a few more thousand getting it here from its place in Kent.
That’s a whole lot of money to go 80 km/h, but this truck is the closest you’ll get to playing SnowRunner in real life.
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