It’s been a great week in the Hooniverse, and we’ve seen an awful lot of ongoing projects. Some are fixer-uppers, some are basket-cases and some are just so monumentally exciting as to defy any attempt at description. But only one of them is a Lada.
In honour of Kamil’s Soviet slingshot, we’re heading back to Togliatti and 1976, to have a look at some Ladas.
Images can be made more legible by clicking on them, though you may have to squint
“Be honest, the prices of even the most modest sized cars stripped of all but the bare essentials have been driving you to despair”
1970’s Britain was, for many, a bleak place. Money was in short supply, employment was a sought-after and rare phenomenon, and there was an awful lot of really shitty music about.
For most families, the ownership of a brand new car was an unimaginable dream. Indeed, my own parents owned a succession of shonky old Fords and Vauxhalls, all of which needed welding from an early age. Especially the Vauxhalls.
“A car with comforts, strength, safety and economy features no car should be without”
Then, all of a sudden, Lada arrived in the UK, and they would sell you a car that was almost the size of a Cortina, for just £1395.
It seemed almost too good to be true, but that was the deal and many, many people fell for the VAZ-2101’s charms.
“An interior designed for space and comfort, with room for 5 adults”
The list of equipment included fully adjustable, reclining, front seats. Not only that but a cigarette lighter, too.
The engine was the robust, simple old Fiat unit that went so comfortably with the simple, old Fiat bodywork. It could rattle out 62bhp, enough to send the Lada 1200 onto a wildly oscillating 91mph top speed.
“The Lada 1200 Saloon and Estate are also available in luxurious ES versions”
Luxury was the word. Well, a word. ES luxury involved a vinyl roof, a coachlining (that means a tape stripe), full carpeting, sound insulation, halogen headlamps, twin reversing lights and rear fog lamps. Hell, there was even a heated rear screen, and estate models came with a rear screen wiper.
It was a tempting package.
There was also a 1500 saloon if you really wanted Oligarch looks. This was based on the VAZ-2103 model, the ‘upscale’ Togliatti product, with a 75bhp engine enabling a terrifying 100mph top speed.
There was a wood-effect dashboard with a rev-counter, and in the trunk came all the reassurance of a 21-piece tool kit. Including a starting handle.
Lada disappeared from the UK market in the ’90s, and the cash-light of Britain were forced to buy second hand Sierras and Astras instead.
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright probably belongs to the Russian mafia. I’ll be careful)