Lada Spares UK
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  Email: tom@lada.co.uk
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IN THE BEGINNING

In 1966, an agreement between Fiat and the Soviet Government was signed, so that a new car factory could be built some 600 miles south-east of Moscow beside the river Volga. This site is now the world's third-largest motor-manufacturing complex with 90 miles of automated assembly lines and a shop-floor area of 22.5 million square feet. The factory was built in less than 4 years, by over 45 thousand workers at an estimated cost of some £820,000,000.

The site has it's own hotels, test-track and R&D department. (The hotels have now been sold off). This mammoth scheme was part of a much larger program for the area, which included the building of a hydro-electric power plant, the Lenin Dam on the lower Volga, and the building of Togliatti, a new town on the banks of the river replacing an earlier settlement called Stavropol which was inundated by the reservoir. Togliatti was the name of the then chairman of the Italian Communist Party. He'd led the Italian resistance during World War 2, and had played a key role in the negotiations which had led to the sale of the Fiat plant to the Soviet Union. Part of the negotiations was the agreement that the Soviet Union would give steel to Fiat for use in it's manufacturing.

THE LADA

The Lada 1200 Saloon first appeared in the UK at the 1973 Motor Show, causing quite a few raised eyebrows because of it's extremely low price. As Satra Motors LTD, the concessionaires said, "For a new car, the Lada looks and sounds strangely familiar. From it's no-nonsense, clean lines to it's pedigree 1198cc engine, capable of speeds up to 90mph And since this is a speed one is rarely allowed to reach, the Lada is never strained. It's also surprisingly gentle at the fuel pumps. Inside and out, there's very little about the Lada that you don't already know. The only thing that will surprise you is the price. It's much less than you'd expect. You don't meet many cars like that nowadays". It was equipped with fully adjustable reclining seats, four speed synchromesh gearbox, two speed wipers, luxurious vinyl upholstery, comprehensive toolkit, and more. "And none of these extras cost more money. Because we think the ex-works price should be where your spending stops, not where it begins." About four years later, carpets were fitted. (Over the top of the factory-fitted rubber matting) and reversing lights added. Further modifications followed and the Riva has been updated regularly ever since. The body line must surely now be considered a "classic".

April 1994 saw the introduction of the Lada 1200 Saloon and Estate joined later by the 1500 Estate, sharing the 1200 body shell. The 1500 Saloon followed in 1976 and in 1978 appeared with the 1600 engine, and was the up-spec-4-headlamp leader of the Lada range.

In May 1983 the Riva appeared with a 1300cc belt-drive engine, followed in 1984 by the 1200 Saloon and in 1985 by the 1300 and 1500 Estates. Various specification permutations followed, some of which had 1600 engines - these having a higher body line and squarer grille. The front-wheel drive Samara hatchback powered by a transverse 1300cc engine was unleashed upon an unsuspecting British public in 1987 with a price tag of £5053 inclusive on the road!! Other versions followed, five door hatchbacks and four door saloons being revamped with different body styling kits and the addition of 1500cc and 1100cc engines. In August 1996 the Samara was released with a General Motors fuel injection on the 1.5 engines. During this time the Riva range was whittled down to the 1500 Saloon and Estate with two trim variations. The third member of the Lada family, the 4-wheel drive Niva, appeared in 1978 in left-hand drive form and two years later in right-hand drive. The Cossack variant with smart interiors, alloy wheels and ironmongery began to appear in 1986, though the Cossack trim had been available as a range of optional extras prior to this. The latter part of 1995 saw the introduction of the Niva, Hussar and Cossack fitted with a 1700cc engine with GM fuel injection.

THE END?

On Thursday, July 3rd 1997 MVI, the present Lada importers announced that "No more new cars would be imported, but Lada owners, thought to number about 100,000 will still get parts and service through UK dealers. The difficulty in obtaining an American-made part to enable Lada's to comply with EEC Emission Standards has meant that Russian manufacturer AvtoVaz could no longer supply cars to the motor-vehicle imports based at Carnaby near Bridlington". Auto distributors have now taken over the franchise.

THE FUTURE!

Lada production continues in Russia at a rate of 1 car per 21 seconds supplying the home market and Europe. New models in the pipeline with AvtoVaz looking for support from Western giants like General Motors and Fiat, the future doesn't look too bleak. The cars and their drivers will be around for many years to come.

HISTORY OF LADA NIVA

Firstly, where does the name "Lada" comes from ? In case of the car it means a small, fast sail boat, typical for the river Volga, where the factory is situated. It was also the favorite boat with river pirates, who used to rob commercial ships on the river. The Lada-boat goes back to the vikings, who used to colonize the slavic territory by coming from Scandinavia through the place where St. Petersburg is today and founding a first settlement on the lake Ladoga today called "Starie Ladoaga", Old Ladoga. The where using the vast inland waterways of Russia for trade and soon took over the language, religion and some habits of the slavs but they where actually the founders of the first statehoods that eventually became Russia. As a funny detail of this history and the traveling vikings, the cars made by Rover in England and the ones made by VAZ/Lada in Russia have about the same little ship as a logo.

MORE ABOUT THE NAME

Lada in Russian means "(lovely, little) darling". Before the Togliatti-plant for cars was known as Shiguli factory and the cars were called Shiguli. The Shigulis converted to 'Lada' in late 70's. The name Niva means 'cornfield' in Russian. So our car is 'our darling for cornfields'. First prototypes of the Niva were known in 1974 and the series started 1976 with a 1.3l and a 1.6l Version...

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