2012 Trip to abandoned RAF factory and dive to Soviet History


The Riga Autobus Factory was a factory in Jelgava, Latvia, making vans and minibuses under the brand name Latvija.

During the Soviet period, RAF and UAZ were the only producers of vans and minibuses in Soviet Union. RAF vans and minibuses were used only by state enterprises, most often as ambulances and for public transit. Private persons were not allowed to own them, the only exception being for families with at least five children.

In 1949 the factory began producing van bodies on the site of the Riga auto repair factory №2. In 1955, it was renamed the Riga Experimental Bus Factory, and the products started to be abbreviated to RAF. RAF’s first product was the RAF-251, a 22-seat local bus, based on the GAZ-51 chassis. From 1958 the factory started to produce RAF-977 minibuses, based on GAZ-21 Volga assemblies.

In 1976, the construction of a new factory in Jelgava was finished designed to produce 17,000 vehicles per year. The factory produced several versions of the RAF-2203 minibuses based on GAZ-24.

After the collapse of the USSR, the new borders broke the supply chains and production fell drastically. An investment proposal came from the Russian GAZ company but it was rejected by the Latvian government which considered Russian capital a threat to Latvian independence.

So here you can see what RAF spaces are like now. In the end of the report you will see the pictures of well restored cars in Baltic region. And we hope to have more and more of them soon!

Part 2