By John-William Greenbaum
Here’s a decidedly post-communist truck converted from a communist-era design: the ZUK A-11B Pickup Truck (a 1/43 Polish partworks truck made by Ixo), as converted into an ice cream truck for Lodmor, a manufacturer of ice cream, sorbet, and yogurt in Gdansk! This model truck was for sale in Poland and converted by some unknown person.
The Plasticville figure was actually part of the conversion in the rear suite, but came loose in transit. I’ve since reattached her using that guaranteed-to-work method: double-sided tape!
The ZUK A-11B was a pretty popular pickup truck in Poland more or less throughout the seventies and eighties, actually surviving communism to be manufactured in the nineties, albeit not in huge numbers. However, so many were in service and parts were so inexpensive that you could indeed convert these trucks into commercial vehicles like rent-a-trucks or indeed ice cream trucks that generally speaking weren’t crucial to Polish infrastructure.
Given the amount of French and German ice cream trucks made in a similar manner that are still on the streets manufactured in the seventies and eighties, I’d honestly not be surprised if one could walk around Gdansk and find one of these driving around. In fact I found photos of one in-service and one not.
Remarks on the Real Truck
The last of the FSC ZUK pickup trucks, the ZUK A-11B, was probably the most successful of any of them. Based externally on the 1966-vintage ZUK A-14 Export Fire Truck that essentially inspired all post-1966 ZUK vehicles, it could best be seen as the successor to the ZUK A-03 pickup, which was the very first of FSC ZUK’s pickup trucks. As with the boxy A-03 it was meant to replace, the original ZUK A-11, which was introduced in 1968, made extensive use of corrugated steel in the construction of the cab. The most noticeable improvement was a hood that flipped up easily.
Although somewhat problematic due to an incredibly high center of gravity that saw the pickups often literally tip over onto their sides, it was all in all an improvement over the ZUK A-03 in the reliability department. Although handling could best be described as awful, the ZUK A-11 did at the very least receive a responsive steering wheel so as to try and prevent as many trucks from tipping onto their sides as possible. It did, however, have two glaring problems. First among these was that the engine design was still the old GAZ-M20 Pobeda engine. Worse, however, was that the truck used a wooden cargo bed that often dry-rotted and had all kinds of problems with cracking and damage.
In 1973, the vehicle received a new, more powerful engine, being renamed the ZUK A-11M. However, the problem with the wooden cargo bed proved rather serious. In 1975, the ZUK A-11M was withdrawn from production in favor of the ZUK A-11B that you see featured here. In 1998, the ZUK A-11B had the honor of being the very last truck to roll off FSC ZUK’s assembly line before then factory was closed for good. Many stayed in service for years afterward in all kinds of jobs.
Fir this example, the cargo bed has been removed and replaced by a nineties-era ice cream truck suite! Lodmor is still a manufacturer of ice cream in Gdansk, and that’s the corporate sponsor that this particular A-11B ice cream truck has. Note the folding side window and refrigeration unit as well, which are probably licensed copies of features found on German or French ice cream trucks. A truck like this probably would have remained in service well into the twenty-first century, as there was absolutely no need to replace it with something technologically superior. Heck, I’m willing to bet there are is more than one of these still driving around, given the presence of Renaults from the sixties in France, old Mercedes-Benz O-series trucks in Germany, old Leylands driving around Britain, and seventies Dodge trucks driving around here in the US.
Given how successful a late 1960’s design was doing in the 1990’s, one is forced to wonder just how well it could have done had FSC ZUK’s communist bureaucrats not nearly destroyed the design during the 1980’s (updated the flaws with the wooden cargo bed, etc).
ZUK A-11B Lodmor Ice Cream Truck Conversion Poland, 1:43 Model by Ixo, modified by unknown Figure by Plasticville, painted and modified Years Built: 1975-1998 Engine: 70 HP 4-cylinder four-stroke Fuel Type: Gasoline Top Speed: 63 mph
More details about the real 1:1 scale ZUK A-11B can be seen on the author’s Facebook page.
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.