Russia hasn’t always been all dash cam hilarity and meteor mayhem, it once represented America’s greatest rival and was the source of the world’s biggest communist bloc parties. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Lada 2103 harkens back to that era, but does it come with a price that will make you see red, comrade?
A chimaera is a mythical animal assembled from the parts of three others, sort of like a Turducken. Ironically, the car named for that mythical beast - from TVR - actually has more homegrown parts than pretty much any other cottage industry car. Now, should you want to describe a car as a chimaera with an air of accuracy then you’d be better off using yesterday’s weird 1990 Miata/Z3/GM3.1 as example. Of course, according to the overwhelming majority of you - 94% Crack Pipe vote - the best idea would be just to change the subject.
Speaking of subjects, let’s delve into a little International Relations, shall we?
Imagine if you will a Fiat, only with poorer quality than even the Italians could muster and an added layer of disappointment, sort of like British cuisine, made by dogs. That pretty much encapsulates the history of the license-built products of Mother Russia’s AvtoVAZ, or internationally better known as the Lada brand.
One of those products is represented here, in the form of a 1975 Lada 2103, offered up for sale unsurprisingly in San Francisco. The 2103 is the upscale edition of the Fiat 124-based 2101, providing a little more ritz for your ruble.
Informally known as the Zhiguli in its homeland - a name taken either from the mountain range bordering the Volga river, or a brand of beer - the Lada differs from its Italian comrades by being built from a heavier gauge of crappy steel, a carburetor more suitable to colder climes, and a stoic OHC for its 1.5-litre four, rather than the Fiat’s pushrod unit.
This Lada, in appropriate ‘70s brown, is claimed to have been imported from St. Petersburg and is said to have done only 16,000 kilometers - or less than 10,000 miles to you capitalist pigs. The car is complete, and the seller says that everything is original and - less believably - that everything functions.
That’s probably better than when it left the factory, as Russian auto workers of the time made their American UAW counterparts look like Mayo Clinic neurosurgeons in comparison. This being the 2103 there’s a lot more to it that could have been shoddily assembled. There’s 4 headlamps rather than the lessor model’s two, a good deal more brightwork, and probably multiple microphones hidden there by the Politbyuro.
Inside, there’s room for all the Marx brothers, the boxy shape offering both plenty of space and a airy greenhouse. The materials look to be in fine shape, with two exceptions- the glovebox door fit is alarmingly off, and there appears to be a Pangolin wrapped around the steering wheel.
For the longest time all the really cool stuff that existed behind the Iron Curtain - cars, MIGs, Russian super models - were all mostly unknown here in the States. But slowly the relationship between the two superpowers began to thaw, led by plucky gymnast Olga Korbut at the ‘72 and ‘76 Olympics, and completed with the fall of the Soviet Empire due solely to Ronald Reagan, Freedoms, and Big Macs. Now apparently, you can even buy a Lada in San Leandro.
Of course should you jones for this Lada then you’ll need to pony up $11,500 for the experience. That’s not chump change and may require tightening your Borscht Belt in order to make it happen. The question of course remains, should that happen? What do you think, is this lovely Lada worth its $11,500 asking price? Or, is that far too Lada cash for a car that would just let you go Russian around?
San Francisco Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Alex for the Hookup!
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