It’s true that the Lada we just bought is the butt of many jokes, and that it’s hardly the most sophisticated car around to us today. But you have to consider what it was like when the Lada was a new car in the Soviet Union.

I’ll let reader Veiko explain:

My father grew up in Soviet occupied Estonia, so All the cars were russian. Lada 1200 or ‘zhiguli’ was the best of them. It was a major improvement over mosckvitz or zaparozets. As information about western cars were blocked off and massively filtered. Everyone knew at the time that western cars were too complicated and full of electronics that only factory can figure out. Hard to work on and so on.. But ladas were reliable, and if something did go wrong then it would be very easy to fix it by the side of a road. They even have a light under the hood that lights up when you open the hood so you can repair it at night.

Ladas were also praised for their good handling and good brakes. Road noise was also notably lower than other russian cars. I even have a newspaper outtake where a local sherif notifys people to be careful with ladas as they are so refined that you can feel the speed at all. As there were no speed limits at time, people used to drive on the limit and that could have been over 100 km/h (60mph).

Anyway this is mine, used as a wedding car.

It may not have been great, but at the time, it beat the hell out of damn near everything else in Russia. Plus they have the cool factor going for them today.

Congrats on your COTD win, Veiko! Go do some donuts in that bad boy!


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.