Project Car SOTU 2016: Lada Lemons Racer

The annual-or-whenever-we-get-to-it Hooniverse Project Car State of the Union is upon us. It has been five months since I received the Lada from its previous caretaker but I have not done much with it. It is basically due to the issue of parts. I ordered a ton of stuff from a place called Zakharov Auto Parts in Florida. Zakharov sells parts for Russian cars and ships them all over world. Unfortunately no one who works there speaks English. Despite that I placed an order through their website after having my Spanish-speaking friend call them to confirm that they are able to do what their website says.

hooniverse lada lemons engine
Right away there was a problem. They charged me the incorrect shipping amount for my somewhat heavy order. They wanted additional $80 for packing and shipping of the new windshield and $400 (!!) for shipping of the body parts. I told them that I don’t want the heavy body parts and I paid them for additional packing and shipping of the windshield. Then they shipped it to my home and not the show where the car is.
The small parts arrived in one package. The windshield arrived in another plywood crate but it was damaged. It was damaged because of how it was packed and because of how the box was constructed. Right away they refunded my money for the windshield but not the additional shipping costs. Secondly, they said that they will not be shipping me a new windshield because it will just break in shipping again and they cannot package it any better. And they said that they won’t be refunding me the shipping because they don’t refund shipping costs. And they never refunded me the money for the body parts that they never shipped.
I sent numerous emails and never got a response. My friend made many phone calls but they always gave him the runaround – the “boss” never seems to be in or he will email or call be back right away. I started a claim with PayPal but that got me nowhere. After several phone calls with PayPal, they told me that I would have to ship all the parts I received from them for a full refund. That makes zero sense as I just want the money back for the stuff they never sent me and a lot of the parts that they did sent me are already installed. Fucking useless. I have no option but to take legal action… for something that costs around $300. Ugh.
hooniverse lada lemons interior
Now for some good news – the Lada runs!!!
My good friends at  Ciro’s Auto Repair and IPS Racing in Everett, MA, got the car running. The owner is an Italian gentlemen who grew up with Fiats. He started the Lada using a mixture of gasoline and top secret home made wine recipe. As you can see in the video, after a bit of the initial smoke, the damn thing idled perfectly. Perfectly-ish.
I did a detailed inspection of the car. To be race-ready it needs the following:

  • Radiator (sourced one).
  • Wheel bearings (have one, need to order another).
  • Front brake pads (have).
  • Rear drums adjusted.
  • Body adjustment after the wreck in the last race.
  • Windshield.
  • Reworked exhaust.
  • Engine and transmission mounts (have).
  • Update to the roll cage.
  • Harness?
  • Theme.
  • Who knows what else…

hooniverse lada lemons details
The really good news is that the suspension is great. It is some kind of a modified Alfa Romeo kit. The builder of the car fabricated mounts for it all and did a pretty damn good job of it. I am not sure what to do about the stock 12-inch wheels. The interesting thing I learned is that the current, brand new, Fiat 500 has the same 4x98mm wheel bolt pattern as this car. That is amazing! After almost sixty years, they have not changed the bolt pattern! I have not found anyone who could lend me a wheel off a new 500 to truly verify the fit. Nor did I even attempt trying to see if the calipers would fit.
I really wanted to be further along at this point. Unfortunately I don’t have much patience to deal with business people who don’t care about their clients. I may got to that Florida store myself, pickup the body panels, and ship them on my own. The whole parts fiasco really discouraged me from working on this damn car. I wanted it to be ready for the October New Hampshire Halloween Hooptiefest, I even have a team picked out, but unfortunately I don’t think that will be possible.  The good new is that the Buick is running like a champ.
hooniverse lada lemons details 2

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4 responses to “Project Car SOTU 2016: Lada Lemons Racer”

  1. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    Don’t give up the dream! Give us a Perfect Strangers theme. It just seems to fit a Russian car that involves multiple languages and countries now.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      Oh, Cosin Larry! You are such a kidder.

  2. CraigSu Avatar

    The Googles say Zakharov Auto Parts is in Hialeah, FL. You could always contact the local BBB down there, see what their rating is (or if they have one) and file a complaint based on what you’ve attempted so far to retrieve your dollars. May not work but it’s cheaper than a lawyer and you might help someone else in the process.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I mean, he really got the Russian customer care experience™, didn’t he? Really, really discouraging…now that the Cuban trade embargo is to be lifted, maybe that’s a road to go? Otherwise, the Russian internet should have some credible sources for parts – it’s one of history’s most successful cars after all.