In the USSR everything had to be a little bigger and vehicles were no exception. This machine, supposed to be the king of snow, was one of such extremetiy, with 1.8-meter wheels.
In 2006 Club 4×4, a Russian magazine looked at the development of this unique all-terrain wehicle. This is where we borrowed our title. Apparently ZIL received the order in late 1961 from the Automotive Industry Department of the Moscow City Economic Council, but they completely forgot all about it. A friendly follow-up a year later caused havoc in the design department as they only had a few months to complete the prototype.
The snow-mobile parameters were quite clear: had to 6×6, at least 1700 mm diameter wheels, minimum 800 mm ground clearance, at least 3-ton payload, automatic differential locks, and power to weight ratio of at least 20 hp per ton.
The ZiL E167 was powered by two seven-litre eight-cylinder ZiL-375 engines with a maximum power of 360 hp. The two engines were located at the rear longitudinally side by side and the left powered the left wheels, the right powered the right wheels, through automatic transmissions, operated by one set of buttons next to the steering wheel.
Average speed on asphalt was 65 km/h and on snow about 10 km/h. The chassis with a road clearance of 750 mm was covered with smooth sheets, which could slide on the snow.
The vehicle was able to cope with a two-meter anti-tank ditch and a one-meter tall wall as well. The vehicle weighed 7 tons, was 9,260 mm long, 3,130 mm wide and 3,060 mm tall.
There was space for four people in the fibreglass-bodied cabin, and for several more on benches in the rear compartment, again made from fibreglass; there was also separate heating. The car held 900 litres of fuel and consumption was dependent on where it was driven; however, there is a quoted figure of 100 litres per 100 kilometres. Each engine had its own liquid cooling system.
In total, the ZiL E167 covered nearly 2,700 kilometres during its first winter test, including 800 kilometres in remote areas. It didn’t really matter where it was going, the driver and crew always had a relatively comfortable ride. It wasn’t a Rolls Royce comfort, but most importantly, they didn’t have to climb out of the heated cabin into a 30-degree frost every 15 meters and dig the car out of the snow.
Small series production was ready to commence and the Soviet Defense Ministry was interested in the project. In the end, however, the project was halted, allegedly by ZiL’s decision and especially due to the complexity of the powertrain. Apparently another similar vehicle with tracks, called the GT-T was also in development in the Soviet Union and that was easier to build, hence it got greenlighted.
The ZIL E167 prototype is stored in the Autoreview Museum in Moscow.