Wednesday 29 July 2015
The RAF-2203 Latvija (nickname Rafik) was a minibus designed and developed by Rīgas Autobusu Fabrika from 1976–1997. They were widely used throughout the USSR as fixed-run taxis (the Marshrutkas), medical cars, used for Latvenergo and as a special services vehicles. It was the successor of the RAF-977.
This van used the 2,445 cc (149.2 cu in) engine of the GAZ-24, between the front seats (not unlike the Dodge A100), with independent front suspension also from the GAZ-24 (but springs from the GAZ 13). It borrowed headlights and brake system parts from the Moskvitch 412, outside door handles from the Moskvitch 408, and 15 in (38 cm) wheels of the GAZ-21 Volga. The single rear door hinged at the top, rather than the more-usual side-opening. There were two major models: one, the 2203, seated ten plus driver and passenger, powered by a95 hp (71 kW; 96 PS) 2,445 cc (149.2 cu in) with 8.2:1 compression; the other, the 22032, a twelve-seat "route taxi", had longitudinal seats and lower 6.7:1 compression (to use more readily available 76 octane petrol), and produced only 85 hp (63 kW; 86 PS). (The 2203-02 would run on liquified propane). An ambulance, the 22031, was soon added to the range, and made up fully a third of all 2203s built; there was also a 22035 for blood donor clincs. These were joined by the 22034, for fire departments.
In addition to the uncommon 22033 and 22036 for state militias, there was a prototype electric vehicles.
While the 2203 looked good, it was susceptible to rust, especially in the frame rails, and was unpleasant to drive in bad weather. Quality control of the assembly was also poor. Oil leaks and axle bearing failures were freqent. It also suffered overheating, serious vibration issues, failures of front suspension parts leading to poor handling, and high fuel consumption. On top of it all, access to the cab was difficult, despite the forward-control position.
They have now been replaced mostly by GAZ products (GAZelle, Barguzin, etc.).
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 2445 cc
- horsepower: 95 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 120 km/h