Mara Motors Company Thread (now up to date till 2000)

Mara Motors Company Thread

Last update: 2021-11-28
  • 2021-11-28: More challenge results included
  • 2021-11-07: Renamed Pchla to Konyk, some updates based on past challenges
  • 2021-09-03: Added Bizon heavy utility to the line-up
  • 2021-09-03: Challenge updates
  • 2021-08-10: Initial Kanyon history (1st gen), timeline added
  • 2021-07-27: Initial Kavaler history (1st and 2nd gen)
  • 2021-07-25: Initial Zvezda history, Irena quotes and ads updated
  • 2021-07-18: TPF2 screenshots of facilities and Krapyla images uploaded
  • 2021-07-14: Initial Irena history
  • 2021-07-01: Initial Pchla and Tovarish histories
Model directory

Production models:

  • Mara Konyk: 1948-1960 (SUV, ute)
  • Mara Tovarish: 1959-1999 (small sedan, wagon, pickup, panel van)
  • Mara Irena: since late 1960s (medium sedan, panel van, wagon, coupe, hatchback, pickup, convertible)
  • Mara Kavaler: since 1975 (large sedan, coupe, wagon / crossover)
    – Kavaler I: 1975-1994 (large sedan, coupe)
    – Kavaler II: 1995-2005 (large sedan, wagon)
    – Kavaler III: 2006-2014 (large sedan, wagon)
    – Kavaler IV: since 2015 (large sedan, crossover wagon)
  • Mara Zvezda: since 1998 (medium sedan, hatchback, coupe, wagon)
    – Zvezda I: 1998-2016
    – Zvezda II: 2016-
  • Mara Zorya: since 2010 (small hatchback)
  • Mara Kanyon/Reyndzher/Bizon: since 1982 (medium / large SUV, Ute, MPV)
    – Kanyon/Reyndzher/Bizon I: 1982-1999?
    – Kanyon/Reyndzher/Bizon II: 1999?-201?
    – Kanyon/Reyndzher/Bizon III: 201?-

Concept cars:

Car model timeline 1948-2020 **(UPDATED)**

Mara Motor (full name: Mara Motorni Fabryky) was founded in 1925 near Lake Mara in Archana in order to supply engines for buses, trucks or light planes for the budding motorisation of Archana.

See also the AMM thread for performance related variants.

Exterior shots of production and test facilities

Main Factory

(near the namesake lake and town and across their train tracks and passenger train station)

Test and Proving Grounds (until the mid-1990s)

(in an abandoned industrial site at the south shores of Lake Mara)

The two shots above are taken in Transport Fever 2.

Note: The current thread is based on actual or potential models in a LC4.1 campaign. Things may change somewhat after LC4.2, esp. performance figures due to RON changes, years due to differences in campaign progression and the looks of the car due to the necessary redesigns.

1) Mara Konyk (1948-1960)

SUV, Ute - Konyk I4 1.3

Trafikjournalen SCCR1: 1951 Mara Konyk Hardtop: Trafikjournalen: Cars that influenced Swedish car culture (Rd6 subs open) - #55 by AndiD

During the war and because of their position close to the capital and away from the front line, they were a key manufacturer of engines for the military JC-9 jeep. Due to their ubiquitous numbers across various roles at and behind the front, the quite swift acceleration in the very short first gear and the common yellow/green-ish base colour, the JC-9 received the nickname Konyk (‘grasshopper’). Later on during the war, Mara were also awarded a contract to manufacture the entire vehicle, not just the engine.

After the war, Mara began producing civilian versions of the crude but rugged and effective Konyk jeep in ute (pickup 2 seater) and SUV (4 seater) forms, both powered by a 1299cc I4 producing 21 kW. The Konyk jeep’s softtop did little to protect the inhabitants from the elements and only daring souls pushed these things to their top speed of just above 100 km/h. Hence the famous mock-slogan “Faster than a tractor, consuming less fuel than a tank and quieter than a plane” emerged.

The Konyk could also be ordered with a flimsy painted sheetmetal hardtop

However, the dual live axle suspension proved to be perfectly suitable for the limited and widely damaged infrastructure in Archana at that time. The civilian versions of the Konyk went out of production in 1959 when the production lines switched to the then-new Tovarish, but the last Konyks were still being sold as new in the mid-1960s.

In the subsequent years both Konyk variants have developed a bit of a cult following among enthusiasts in its niche - but the changing times and the non-existent rust protection have done their share to whittle away the number of roadworthy Konyks to almost zero. However, the descendants of its engine have survived until 1999 in all versions of the Tovarish.

2) Mara Tovarish (1959-1999)

Sedan, Wagon, Ute, Van - Konyk I4 1.1, 1.3

Cult of Personality II - Dawn of the Golden Age 1960-1966 (1st in Counter Culture - Jalopy Culture): as 1962 Mara Companion SD: Cult of Personality ][ : The Boogaloo [LORE][RD 5 FINAL RESULTS] - #77 by AndiD
Cult of Personality II overall (2nd in Counter Culture - Jalopy Culture)
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2021: Mara Tovarish 1959 BRC Replica: Goodwood Festival of Speed 2021 - #8 by AndiD
1979 Oil Crisis Challenge (22nd): Mara Tovarish 1.3tk: 1979 Oil Crisis Challenge [Finished] - #47 by AndiD
Trafikjournalen SCCR2: as 1962 Mara 1300 Pickup: Trafikjournalen: Cars that influenced Swedish car culture (Rd6 subs open) - #116 by AndiD

Convinced by the Konyk’s surprising success in the consumer market, in the mid 1950s Mara set out to develop their first own and ‘proper’ mass market car - the 2.1m wheelbase Tovarish. The Tovarish built upon tried-and-true technology from the Konyk such as a ladder frame, a coil-sprung live rear axle and the Konyk I4 engine enlarged to 1099cc. The first Tovarish models were available from the late 1950s onwards in sedan and ute (pickup) form.

Basic transportation for people…

1960 saw the opening of the Fruinian market for Archanan car companies, and shortly after that the Tovarish had gone on sale there as well, now available with family wagon (3 door only though) and panel van bodies as well. For the sedan (and later the wagon), the engine was now producing 28 kW; the domestic ute and van versions have always retained the 1099cc version throughout their production history, however.

The Tovarish was also available in some other countries through independent importers, often under the model name “Companion” and usually with the larger engine for all variants, retuned for the target market fuel availability. Especially the panel van proved to be very popular in Fruinia - particularly due to its very competitive pricing, but also due to its impressive nominal load capacity of 550 kg, almost the same as the car’s own weight of around 610 kg.

…and goods in urban…

Sales of all models were further boosted by racing exposure in the late 1950s BRC sportscar championship in the under 1100cc class. However, increased safety legislation in Fruinia and other countries from 1970 onwards spelled doom for the Tovarish’s success abroad. For its home market, however, it stayed in production as a low-cost new car option until 1999.

… and rural environments throughout the decades

Two major facelifts occurred in the early 1970s (with a switch to radial tyres and unleaded fuel to make the engine suitable for the Fruinian market when used in the Irena) and 1980s (mainly for a switch to more modern components since some of the old ones became increasingly difficult to source).

Towards the end of the 1970s, there was also a brief attempt to combat declining domestic sales with a turbocharged ‘hot’ version that also formed the basis for a rather unsuccessful entry into the International Touring Car Trophy (ITCT). After a single season, however, the Tovarish was not only towards the bottom of the timesheets due to the ancient underpinnings, turbos were also banned in the ITCT to prevent cost escalation.

The Tovarish’s hot hatch version was only available for under 2 years and did not see much success or sales

By the end, power output for the regular engines had stabilised at 24 and 27 kW, respectively - neither with fuel injection nor a catalytic converter. In the final 1980s facelift, the basic sedan was actually downgraded from the 1299cc to the 1099cc engine so that the 1299cc engine remained solely in production for the bulkier wagon.

Increased safety legislation in Archana from the 2000s onwards signalled the end of the Tovarish’ 40-year production run, but even after that the nimble Tovarish has proven popular for amateur rallying and the lowest cc classes of banger racing. Over the decades, it had been the first car for countless Archanan families and proved to be particularly popular in rural areas due to its ability - even for the regular road versions - to cope with varying surfaces. Simultaneously, the basic technology fostered high reliability and low maintenance requirements. Getting into a 1999 model year Tovarish feels like a blast from the past - as it is essentially the same car that would have rolled off a production line in 1984 - or 1964, for that matter. The last Tovarish off the assembly line - a ‘lake blue’ L sedan - has been preserved in the Mara automotive museum.

The first racing stint after its debut in the late 1950s was somewhat more successful

As of now in 2020, the last of the iconic Tovarish delivery vans are slowly vanishing from Archanan and Dalluhan cities, but there are probably a fair number of Tovarish utes still sitting in barns all over the Archanan Hinterlands with some certainly in good working condition or even still seeing daily use. Over the decades, Tovarish utes have also achieved surprising off-road feats such as crossing the entire island of Vianta from east to west as the crow flies part of an epic journey in the famous TV show The Long Tour (as the vehicle trailing the three presenters from a distance and the one a presenter would have to switch to in case their own ride breaks down). A Tovarish ute has also completed the famous Gasmean Dead Man’s Trail hillclimb in BeamNG - and all this despite Tovarish utes never having been equipped with four wheel drive or even a diff locker.

And it may be a surprise to our non-Archanan readers, but a 1975 Tovarish ute also had a role in the - albeit short-lived - Archanan TV series ‘Tovarish Yegor’ about a Archanan peasant family who had moved to the city, and the car - named Yegor - gave important life advice in every episode but only the son (and the dog) could understand it.

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3) Mara Irena (since late 1960s)

Sedan, Van, Wagon, Coupe, Hatchback, Ute, Convertible - Konyk I4 1.3, Perspek I4 2.0 & 2.5, Progress I4 2.0 & 2.3

CSR135 - The New City (1st round): 1967 1.3 EXL Sedan (non-canon version with automatic gearbox and power steering): CSR135: "The new city" - #47 by AndiD
The Grand Tour 79 (8th overall, 3rd after stages, 2 stage wins): 1975 2.5 GTC Coupe: International Gran Turismo Rally - The Grand Tour 79 [FINAL RANKING] - #33 by AndiD
AGC17 (car not selected): 1976 2.0 Hatchback (cabrio taxi, brand GTA-ified as Rama Rena): The Automation Gamer Challenge [ROUND 18] - #923 by AndiD
Virtual car meet 2021 (1990s theme): 1997 Van as pizza van: Automation Virtual Car Meet (AVCM) @ 2021 - #21 by AndiD
Cult of Personality II - Battle for Supremacy 1967-1973 (2nd in Counter Culture - Spiritual Classics; 3rd in Counter Culture - Jalopy Culture): 1972 Mara Irena 5-door Wagon: Cult of Personality ][ : The Boogaloo [LORE][RD 5 FINAL RESULTS] - #120 by AndiD
Cult of Personality II - Re-Emergence - 1987-1992 (6th in Counter Culture - Spiritual Classics, 3rd in Counter Culture - Jalopy Culture): 1990 Mara Irena Kabriolet Freedom Ed.: Cult of Personality ][ : The Boogaloo [LORE][RD 5 FINAL RESULTS] - #323 by AndiD
Cult of Personality II overall (18th and 21st in Counter Culture - Spiritual Classics, 10th and 16th in Counter Culture - Jalopy Culture)
EABL Unofficial Automation Gacha (1st season car): 1979 Mara Irena SX GTR79 Edition
Budget Police Car Challenge (ongoing): 1990 Mara Irena Karavan Militsiya Prototyp : BUDGET POLICE CAR CHALLENGE (deadline 1st October) - #18 by AndiD
Trafikjournalen SCCR3: 1969 Mara Irena Van 1.3: Trafikjournalen: Cars that influenced Swedish car culture (RD4 results pt1/2) - #144 by AndiD

If you think the Tovarish had a long, rich and checkered history, you haven’t heard the Irena’s. Conceived by Mara Motor in the mid-1960s as a reaction to calls for a ‘proper’ 4-door family car with a large boot as well as increased safety legislation in their most important export market Fruinia, the Irena is actually one of the longest running nameplates across all five countries of the world, and also among those with the most body variants over time (eight). The first Irenas were available as sedans and panel vans. Later, hatchbacks, wagons, coupes, pickups and even a (comparably) short-lived convertible were available as well. It also had a limited production (and limited availability) wannabe-GT spinoff based on the coupe body in the 1970s.

The Irena was Mara’s first unibody car but it carried over essentially the same suspension layout as the Tovarish (double wishbones at the front, coil-sprung live axle at the rear). While Archanan infrastructure had substantially improved over the 50s and 60s, many especially rural roads were still partially gravel and usually not-well maintained. Hence, off-road capability still played an important role in the initial project brief, as did load capacity thanks to the Irena’s predecessor’s success as panel van in Fruinia. The 2L ‘Perspek’ engine was a new construction at that time but also followed the same principles as the Konyk I4 in the Tovarish.

A common sight in front of the Lenagrad train station… in 1969 as in 1989.

The Irena debuted first in the late 1960s in sedan form (as an upmarket alternative to the Tovarish) and as a panel van with expanded cargo space. Initially, the Perspek engine produced a mere 40 kW and was available only for the sedan; the first two panel van generations kept using the Konyk I4 1.3. The panel vans boasted 600 kg load capacity against a dry weight of less than 800 kg and over 2300l of cargo space, the latter more than double that of the Tovarish van. The Irena van became an instant runaway success in Fruinia. Due to its interior and boot space, the Irena sedan also became a mainstay in Archanan taxi fleets.

The Irena panel van played a key role in launching many small businesses in Archana and abroad

At first unbeknownst to the Archanan public, a V8 version of the Irena was developed as well, but only as an interceptor for special police and security purposes. The V8 was essentially two Perspek I4s mated together and was thus called Blyz (‘twin’). Its initial version displaced 4 litres and made about 115 kW (so about three times as much power as the initial Perspek I4). This was enough to overwhelm the cross-ply tyres and drum brakes that were in use back then in careless driving, so driving a V8 Interceptor Irena required special training by its drivers. The Blyz V8 also needed more than three times the amount of cooling compared to the Perspek I4, so despite an extra pair of lower vents the issue of overheating after longer drives was never really solved.

A parked dark Irena sedan with tinted windows - a sight you did not want to see in your street in Archana in the late 1960s and 1970s…

In 1972, a low-end version of the sedan with the 1.3l Konyk engine appeared, alongside a new 5-door wagon, a hatchback and a (somewhat) sporty coupe with an odd 2+3 seating layout. The latter (‘SX’) produced 57 kW instead of the modest 40 kW of the regular 2L Perspek engine. This first facelift also marked the beginning of unofficial exports into other countries.

The Irena wagon was positioned as a more upscale alternative to the diminutive Tovarish wagon

In the mid-70s Mara also produced a special limited production high-trim GT version based on the Irena Coupe. The GTC received an enlarged Perspek 2.5l engine producing slightly under 100 kW and a unique rear end with a double wishbone suspension instead of a live axle. This GTC variant was only available to selected members of the Archanan state bureaucracy and is thus very rare today. A specially prepared GTC was also entered in the Gran Turismo Rally across the world. It actually managed to win 2 stages and finished 3rd on time overall, but dropped to 8th after non-driving related judgments. The general interest (and unavailability of) in the GTC Irena lead to the development of the larger Kavaler in the mid 1970s (see below).

The Irena GTC outside a workshop on the Mara main factory grounds before its way towards the GT rally starting line

As all Tovarish variants had lost competitiveness even in the Archanan market, the next Irena facelift in 1980 added a ute version to the lineup, bringing the number of variants to 7. While the ute retained the RWD layout, it gained a proper manual locker at least in addition to off-road tyres, increasing its offroad capabilities over the Tovarish ute. The Konyk 1.3l engine was dropped from the entire Irena lineup.

This picture shows two peculiarities of the Irena ute: The large bed and the regular rear light cluster tilted 90 degrees sideways to make it fit…

In the 1980s, the SX got a revised 2.5l Perspek engine based on the one that had been developed for the 70s GTC, now fuel injected and producing 93 kW. This engine was also put into a new convertible coupe version, bringing the overall number of variants to 8.

Advances in technology and increased competition did not pass by the Irena and the 1990 facelift brought for the first time features such as fuel injection (bringing the 2L Perspek up to 46 kW), hydraulic-assisted steering, a 3 speed automatic or cassette players to the Irena lineup.

The Irena Kabriolet - an earnest attempt at revitalising an ageing platform, or just an 80s folly?

However, the release of this facelift coincided with the global market liberalisation, and Mara hastily had to adopt the Irena to Hetvesian and Gasmean emission regulations, and the first 4th gen Irenas - now with a catalytic converter - went on sale in these countries in early 1992. Incidentally, the most powerful regular production Irena (the 1990 2.5 SX without a catalyst, producing 91 kW, only seven less than the special 2.5 GTC from the mid-70s) had only been in production for about two years and only in small numbers, and is thus among the rarest regular Irenas ever made.

A snapshot of the most powerful regular production Irena - a 1990 Irena SX coupe.

By that time, however, most variants were relegated to the low end of the market. The van and utes were the exception as their utilitarian value was still going strong and their live rear axle actually proved to be an advantage over the commonly independent-sprung competitors in terms of load and offroad capability. For all other variants, the writing was on the wall, and Mara set out to engineer a new state-of-the-art car model.

However, budget versions of the Irena sedan, hatchback, coupe, pickup and wagon continued to be produced alongside the van and ute (receiving the then-new Progress engine in 2000), with sales figures - especially for the ADM (Archanan domestic market) - continuing to be surprisingly healthy throughout the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Next year in 2021, the Irena will finally overtake the Tovarish as Mara’s longest running nameplate, having eclipsed it in terms of sales figures already in the 90s.

However, despite its clear superiority over the Tovarish in almost all aspects, and despite its longetivity, variety and worldwide availability, the Irena has never met the same level of appreciation by its buyers or the general public. It’s actually easy to forget that the Tovarish was only available for about 8 years outside Archana and Dalluha. The Tovarish has rarely been mocked or ridiculed - unlike the Irena, which especially during the 1990s and later has become a symbol of excessive engineering conservatism and stagnancy.

While there have been a few at least half-serious attempts over the years to take it into competitions (esp. rallying), it never proved quite fast or nimble enough, even in SX tune. The only area where it is still competitive is folkracing or banger racing due to its sturdiness and virtual indestructibility, and rumour has it that there are virtually no base L sedans in any scrapyards left with a functional gearbox, since the L’s manual 5-speed box is often swapped into the SX (and even the regular hatchbacks), replacing the factory 4-speed slushbox automatics. All in all, hardly a coda for the Irena that its engineers would have wished for.

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4) Mara Kavaler (since 1975)

4-door sedan, 2-door sedan / coupe, wagon / crossover

First generation (1975-1994)

Engines: Perspek 2.5 I4, Blyz 4.0 V8
Cult of Personality II - Malaise Haze 1974-1979 as Mara Hussar (3rd in Counter Culture - Classics, 6th in Mainstream Culture - Hot Rods and Sports Cars): 1st gen 2-door sedan/coupe, Blyz V8 4.0: Cult of Personality ][ : The Boogaloo [LORE][RD 5 FINAL RESULTS] - #182 by AndiD
Cult of Personality II overall (23rd in Counter Culture - Classics, 21st in Mainstream Culture - Hot Rods and Sports Cars)

After the positive reception of the up-engineered 2.5 Irena Coupe by the powers that were in Archana in the mid-1970s, Mara received the task of developing another upmarket offering above the Irena, but this time - unlike the 2.5 Irena Coupe - one that would be available for the general public as well.

The 1st gen Kavaler - Mara first steps in the premium markets

The eventual outcome was a 2.8m wheelbase large sedan, the start of the long-running Kavaler (‘knight’) nameplate. The 1st generation Kavaler was available with an enlarged 2.5 Perspek I4 (similar to the one in the 2.5 Irena Coupe but with a milder tune) as well as a 4L Blyz (‘twin’) V8.

250+ kg of (mostly) cast-iron: The Blyz V8, more twice as heavy but also twice as powerful than the I4, even in standard tune

The Blyz V8 had been originally developed in the mid-1960s alongside the Irena and essentially consisted of two Perspek I4s mated together. The 1st gen Kavaler was the first time the Blyz V8 became available for the general public; for the first years of its existence the Blyz had been solely available in the Irena’s V8 interceptor variant. The publicly available Blyz V8 was a detuned version, however, making only about 91 kW, but still with over 265 Nm of torque.

The Kavaler Interceptor: Perhaps a bit less sinister in appearance, but considerably more powerful than its Irena counterpart

Alongside, the Blyz V8 interceptor version was upgraded to 5l displacement, and improvements in tyre and brake technology since the 1960s actually made the additional power (148 over 113 kW and 356 over 283 Nm) at least somewhat useable. From 1976 onwards, the Kavaler 5L V8 interceptor superseded the 4L V8 Irena interceptor in Archanan state service. Cooling was also less of an issue for the Kavaler interceptor since - unlike in the Irena - the cooling system was already built to cope with the cooling needs of a V8.

The ‘knight’ badge became a recurring hallmark for the Kavaler series

Unlike the Irena, the Kavaler received independent rear suspension as well in the form of semi-trailing arms, as passenger comfort was a key requirement in the mandate to develop the Kavaler. Also, all versions were strictly four seaters with a less austere interior than the Irena. Other innovations carried over from the Irena Coupe 2.5 special project were disc brakes at the front, hydraulic power steering as well as a 3-speed automatic as the sole gearbox for all versions.

The Kavaler 2-door: out of reach for many - and thus not too long in production

A coupe version of the 1st gen Kavaler was available for a short time as well (and only with the V8), but was dropped after the first facelift due to lack of market interest in the domestic market. Since the Kavaler coupe was already on its way out at that time, it was mandated for Mara to enter the GT79 rally with a derivative of the Irena GTC 2.5, despite the Kavaler V8 coupe being the better fit on paper.

Things did not go quite as planned after the Kavaler’s initial market launch

For a while, the 1st gen Kavaler was also available in other countries beyond Archana, Dalluha and Fruinia through independent exporters, sometimes under the model name Hussar. The main reason was Mara’s overestimatation of the initial market interest, leading to a number of unsold Kavalers sitting on their factory premises, especially shortly after the market introduction after all pre-orders had been fulfilled.

Apart from comparably minor updates to the engine and the interior, the 1st gen Kavaler stayed in production for a bit less than 20 years. Until the 1990s, sales were steadily declining, but held up well enough in its key markets to keep the 1st gen Kavaler in production, but not well enough to justify major redesigns.

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Second generation (1995-2005)

Engines: Progress 2.3 I4, Blyz Progress 4.0 V8
CSR 138: A Thousand Words (3rd round): 2nd gen wagon, Blyz Progress 4.0: CSR 138: A Thousand Words (Finished) - #67 by AndiD
Wangan Slickers Challenge (1st round): 2nd gen sedan, AMM Millennium Extreme, Blyz Progress AMM Extreme 4.6: Wangan Slickers Challenge [FINAL PART] - #19 by AndiD
Trafikjournalen SCCR3 (ongoing): 2nd gen wagon, Progress I4 2.3: Trafikjournalen: Cars that influenced Swedish car culture (RD4 results pt1/2) - #263 by AndiD

After the global market liberalisation in 1990, however, the 1st gen Kavaler fared even worse than the Irena against the international market competition, since it lacked the Irena’s sole saving grace - the possibility to be competitive at least in the respective budget markets. Mara also lacked the engineering capacity for three simultaneous big projects, as they were already hastily reenginering the Irena to be compliant for the newly opened Gasmean and Hetvesian markets and developing the all-new Zvezda from scratch.

The 2nd generation Kavaler sedan with a sizable, but somewhat subdued appearance

Development on the 2nd generation Kavaler thus could only begin in earnest after most engineering tasks on the 1990 Irena facelift was completed. For the Kavaler, the engineers applied a similar formula to what had worked in the mid-1970s: a large wheelbase sedan with state-of-the-art but unspectacular underpinnings (still RWD, but this time with double wishbones at the front as well as the rear) and mating two 2L Progress I4 blocks together to create the 4L Blyz Progress V8 as the top engine. An enlarged 2.3L Progress I4 was the budget engine option, again similar to the 1st gen’s formula.

A favourite of lower-ranking Archanan state officials in the 1990s - a forest green Kavaler V8 ‘Prakty’ wagon (here a 2000 model after the first facelift)

Unlike the 1st generation, this time the Kavaler was also available as a wagon in addition to the sedan. The overall market reception of the wagon was lukewarm at best, but it found sufficient success in three quite different market niches.

First, there were travelling outdoor workers such as forest inspectors and construction engineers who do not want to get stuck on otherwise reasonably accessible unpaved paths and roads in case of inclement weather. Otherwise, they first and foremost need a spacious and practical daily driver for regular roads and conditions, and can appreciate the Kavaler’s affordability.

Second, a growing number of newly well-off Archanans who appreciated the Kavaler’s high certified towing capacity to tow their caravans (as ‘mobile dachas’) for a quick weekend getaway or the yearly summer holiday.

Not an untypical sight in the late 1990s - a base spec Kavaler wagon pulling a caravan

And third, lower and mid-ranking state officials who want something reasonably stately and comfortable, but neither want to be seen driving an import (lest they’d be accused of not being sufficiently patriotic) nor risk getting stuck on the dirt paths to or from their dacha or hunting lodge while being able to carry (or tow) the necessary gear for their leisure activities.

There was also a special and very rare AMM performance variant of the 2nd generation Kavaler capable of reaching speeds beyond 300 km/h.

Third generation (2005-2014)

CSR 137: Life after V8 Falcodore (1st round): 3rd gen Mara Kavaler Sedan AMM Performance M, Blyz Progress AMM V8 4.6: CSR 137: Life after (V8) Falcodore (Completed - Results posted) - #101 by AndiD
New Age Cab Challenge (1st round): 3rd gen sedan, Efektyv 2.0e: New Age Cab Challenge - #14 by AndiD

3rd gen Kavaler’s were common taxis in some Archanan cities such as Lenagrad

Of course, AMM had cooked up their own special versions

More TBD

Fourth generation (since 2015)

Engines: Efektyv 2.0 I4, Blyz Efektyv 4.0 V8
Entry Level Luxury Sedan Challenge (5th place): 4th gen sedan, Blyz Efektyv 4.0: 2020 Entry-level Luxury Sedan Challenge (ELLSC) - #19 by TheTom
– **CSR140 (round 2.1): 4th gen crossover wagon, Blyz Efektyv 4.0: CSR 140 - (You're) Having My Baby [RESULTS OUT] - #69 by AndiD

Two major goals for the most recent generation of the venerable Kavaler nameplate was a push further upmarket and to take into account more of the international car buyers’ preferences.


This is reflected in the choice of car body shapes (e.g. the traditional wagon now appears as a wagon / SUV / coupe crossover), engineering (e.g. a higher priority for safety and fuel economy) and design (e.g. narrower lights with LED) while retaining the traditional ruggedness and simplicity of previous generations…

… as well as the traditional forest green colour for the x-wagon and the Kavaler ‘horseman’ badge that’s come to symbolise Kavalers since the first generation in the 1970s.

5) Mara Zvezda (since 1993)

Sedan, Hatchback, Coupe, Wagon - Progress I4 2.0i, 2.3i

2021 Automation Car Meet (1990 theme): 1998 coupe SX 2.3 AMM: Automation Virtual Car Meet (AVCM) @ 2021 - #21 by AndiD
2021 24h clunker run (3rd place): 2010 coupe SX 2.3 AMM: The 2021 24 hour clunker run (Epilogue part 1) - #67 by AndiD
Best buy for under 14k 1993 (11th place out of 30): 1993 wagon: Best buy for under 14K 1993 (Final verdicts: page 5/5, final conclusion!) - #70 by AndiD

First generation (1993-2010)

After the global market liberalisation in 1990, Mara discovered that their stalwart Irena was hardly competitive in other countries outside of the rock bottom budget categories (with the panel van and ute being an exception for the most part). Their first priority therefore was to engineer a domestically and internationally competitive replacement for the large volume markets (family, family utility, commuter, city) to bring Mara into the 1990s.

Three similar - but also quite different - siblings

The resulting Zvezda (‘star’) turned out to be quite ordinary on the one hand, but on the other hand also quite revolutionary - at least for Mara, since it was their first mass-production transverse FWD MacPherson strut/Torsion beam car. While they had developed the odd transverse FWD prototypes in the 1980s, those had not gotten the green light to go into production. At least they least helped them to cut down engineering time to a reasonable amount.

The all-new Progress I4 engine shares a quite similar story: while it also turned out to be a quite ordinary affair (a 2L cast iron SOHC-2V with an aluminium head and SPFI), it was still quite a leap upwards in technology over the 60s vintage OHV Perspek I4 which still powered the Irenas at that time (but at least had become fuel injected by the 1990s). Power output initially was around 52 kW at 4900 rpm and fuel economy was quite respectable below 7l/100km despite the large displacement, partially thanks to some basic form of VVT. The Progress I4 also became the standard engine for the Irenas from now on.

An early AMM version of the Zvezda coupe (the stock Zvezda coupes did not have a spoiler)

Alongside the sedan, hatchback and wagon, Mara also developed a 2-door coupe with a stiffened suspension and a more powerful engine tune. Shortly after the introduction of the regular coupe, a further enhanced version by AMM - Mara’s new performance division - became available with the Progress I4 enlarged to 2.3L and re-tuned for a power output of initially 110 kW.

Panel van and ute versions of the Zvezda were prototyped but were not developed further due to the continuing success of the Irena van and ute versions on the relevant markets, along with the success of the more specialised Reyndzher / Kanyon SUV and utes. The 1st gen Zvezda stayed in production until the late 2000s (the AMM version a bit longer), kept up to date mainly with new interior options (although cassette players remained available until the final facelift) before the 1st gen Zvezda was replaced with an entirely new generation.

Historic Ads

What others say

Best buy for under 14K 1993 (Final verdicts: page 5/5, final conclusion!) - #167 by Knugcab

Second generation

TBD - either once LC4.2 hits stable or a challenge requires a car.

6) Mara Zorya (since 2005)

Hatchback - Troika I3 1.1i

The Zorya (‘dawn’) was developed as a fuel-efficient city car with a small footprint. Since the Progress engine did not fit the small engine bay, the three-cylinder 9V SOHC Troika engine was developed alongside the Zorya.

(More TBD)

Concept Cars

1) Mara Kraplya (1995)

Hatchback - Troika Concept I3 1.1i

2021 bad car design challenge (8th place): Bad Car Design Challenge - #13 by AndiD

See link to the challenge above for the car’s history.

What others say

It would surely help if there were some pictures, or at least the challenge links would not lead to somewhat random posts.

You sure mean 1988 for the Zvezda, right?

My first encounter with a Mara Kavaler filled me with revulsion at how bad it was:

Still, the third-gen Kavaler, in all its forms, shows some promise - but only after extensive tuning and trim changes to fix its many fundamental issues, as shown in this subsequent review for the New Age Cab Challenge (which was for a cheaper trim):

My only close encounter with Mara has been the Zvezda, twice. It is far from as bad as some evil reputations might have said. In stock form, a sturdy, simple car that gives great value for not much money. In tuned form excellent for a durability challenge. So, it appears that is the segment where Mara has the most know how, while they are still thriving with trying to do upmarket offerings.


Thanks for the feedback so far, a few OOC notes:

  • Links get fixed in the next overhaul, the years are based on the previous campaign run from a few months ago, but since then I already have some different years in mind for the next (LC4.2) run - so years will change at some point in the future, too.
  • Apart from enjoying the cheapskate approach, I genuinely lack any sense of design and aesthetics (certainly not limited to car design), hence my choice of brand; here I can be at least somewhat realistic with what I am able to produce visually. If that limitation means a few extra 1st round bins in CSRs, that’s perfectly fine.
  • Engineering-wise there is ofc something to learn in any challenge - but I also try to be semi-realistic in engineering while taking into account the customer requirements in the challenge. E.g., for the cab challenge I managed to get 40mpg (the original brief) in a non-DI and NA engine on 91 RON (which would be within the company’s range) and think would have scored pretty well on all three and two star requirements except one (comfort was the compromise criterion to make things work iirc).

Since the 14K challenge is over, maybe time to update the link? :slight_smile:


7) Mara Kanyon / Reyndzher / Bizon

First generation (1981-1999)

SUV, MPV, Ute - Perspek 2.5 I4, Progress 2.3i I4
Cult of Personality II - Digging the Trench 1980-1986: 1985 Mara Kanyon (4th in Counter Culture - Motorsport): Cult of Personality ][ : The Boogaloo [LORE][RD 5 FINAL RESULTS] - #244 by AndiD
Cult of Personality II overall: (12th in Counter Culture - Motorsport)
TRIZE’s 1980’s Budget Off-Roader challenge (3rd place): 1980's Budget Off-Roader Challenge Testing: Part 1 | Automation & - YouTube

The Kanyon / Reyndzher** SUV family was developed in the early 1980s as an offer in the emerging ‘sport utility’ market (albeit with a small ‘s’ and a capital ‘U’) in Archana. It emerged as a more capable off-road alternative to the Irena ute - which had always been a bit of a compromise to begin with. The Kanyon was the first variant to become available and had a 4x4 drivetrain. Later on a cheaper softroader counterpart, the Reyndzher*, on the same chassis (but RWD only) was added. The Bizon was a heavy ute variant on the same chassis.

The 4x4 Kanyon: (Almost) uncompromising off-road capability

Layout-wise, this first generation was back to Mara’s roots with the Tovarish and Irena: a ladder frame chassis like the Tovarish, a 2.4m wheelbase like the Irena, the 2.5l Progress I4 engine mounted longitudinally (similar to the one in the Irena SX or base model Kavaler but in a much milder tune focused on low-end torque), double wishbones at the front (the only nod to comfort, apart from non-offroad tyres) and a coil-sprung solid axle at the rear - again, similar to the Irena’s configuration.

The Kanyon’s externally mounted rear spare wheel dominates the look for the rear

As a result, the Kanyon and Bizon (and to a lesser extent the RWD Reyndzher and Bizons) could go into (and get out of) situations where the Irena ute would have been out of its depth. Notable was the low dry weight of around 1.1 tonnes while having a certified towing capacity of easily more than half that.

The RWD Reyndzher was easy to identify through the absence of an externally mounted spare wheel at the rear, allowing a more traditional tailgate handle placement

The entire 1st generation family was initially available in short wheelbase variants only, but later also gained long wheelbase variants with five instead of three doors for the longer Kanyon / Reyndzher and either a 4-seater cabin or a longer bed for the longer Bizon.

Customers choosing the Bizon over the Irena ute were ready to trade comfort and drivability for off-road and load capability

The strictly utilitarian Kanyon and Bizon remained a strong seller in all its markets until the late 1990s due to its sole focus on off-road prowess. In contrast, the mid-1990s brought a more comfortable interior reminiscent of the recently released Zvezda to the Reyndzher in order to keep it at least somewhat competitive in the softroader SUV market, despite its archaic underpinnings. The latter could only be rectified by an entirely new generation.

After 1990, the AMM performance division even managed to shove the 5.0l Blyz V8 into a few Reyndzhers and Bizons, creating a few one-off (asphalt) performance-oriented versions for a surprisingly competitive price.

Even after the introduction of the 2nd generation, the 1st generation Kanyon stayed in production as Kanyon Klasyk, a low-cost no-frills small offroader alternative to the larger and more sophisticated subsequent generations.

Historic Ads

What others say

Second generation (since 2000)


Third generation (since 2010)


Fourth generation (since 2017)

Minivans are Cool MPV Challenge (1st in Usefulness, 6th overall): 2018 Mara Reyndzher Kolektyv AMM MPV8: "Minivans Are Cool" MPV Challenge [Final Results Finally Posted] - #44 by AndiD

For the third generation, the offerings around the Kanyon / Reyndzher combo became even more diverse. The established offroad / softroad roles of the Kanyon and the Reyndzher were continued and now offered with the modernised Efektyv engine family (I4 and V8).

In addition, the Reyndzher softroader received an even more soft MPV variant (‘Kolektyv’) with the sole focus on efficient transport of eight people and hardly any attention to off-roading. The MPV was (with one exception by AMM) not offered with a V8 since the 4th gen Kavaler V8 wagon also entered into SUV/crossover territory, albeit with a deliberately more upscale positioning compared to the Reyndzher MPV.

The AMM version of the 8-seater Reyndzher Kolektyv (MPV8) was a weird experiment with a high-performance V8

What others say

** Just try to pronounce it normally. And yes, it’s actually a word!