Soviet Cars: Lada

Lada”  («Ла́да») was originally the export brand for models sold under the “Zhiguli” name in the domestic Soviet market.

I currently have a dozen Ladas in my collection, some made in USSR, the others made in China. Most are 1:43 scale, the exceptions are a 1:27 scale Niva, a 1:36 scale 110 and a 1:64 scale 2101.

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12 Ladas

The Fiat 124 based Lada 2101 was a big seller in the Soviet Union and in numerous export markets. A town and factory named Togliatti, after the leader of the Italian Communist Party were built in the Samara region of Russia near the Volga river. The keys to its success were: competitive price, reliability, simple DIY-friendly mechanics and unpretentious functionality. Their cheap utilitarian nature made them joke fodder for some:

Why do Lada’s have heated rear windows?
So you can warm your hands when pushing it.

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Lada 2101

The orange model is made in the USSR, the traffic police car in the packaging is made by DeAgostini in China.

I have traded a couple of Lada models with other collectors, the 2107 Police Car went to Marc in USA and the 2102 ““почта” went to Viljar in Estonia.

The Niva (VAZ-2121) was described by its designers as a “Renault 5 put on a Land Rover chassis.” It went into production in 1977 and was a pioneering SUV vehicle.

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Lada Niva

The 2101 was updated with the introduction of the VAZ-2105 (base saloon), VAZ-2104 (estate), and VAZ-2107 (deluxe saloon), these were collectively known as the Lada Riva in UK.

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VAZ 2107

Ladas may have been the butt of cheap jokes in UK but in the Soviet Union, where temperatures might vary between -60 C in the winter and 50 C in the summer, where the roads were poor and the petrol low on octane, they came into their own.

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