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In Russia, Fiat Ladas YOU!

Illustration for article titled In Russia, Fiat Ladas YOU!

The Fiat juggernaut of the 1960s rolled into the USSR mid-decade, in the form of a new factory built along the Volga river. An industrial city that sprang up around the plant was named Togliatti, in honor of an Italian communist exiled by the fascists. From there, Fiat's joint venture knocked out Lada 2101s by the score. They appeared to be clones of the Fiat 124 — a disposable crapbox produced in astounding number, sporting flawlessly modernist styling and a perky engine. Its construction wasn't quite fit for the harsh Russian landscape, however, and so the Lada version was reworked to include aluminum brake drums, an overhead-cam engine, higher ground clearance and more robust steel body. It also had a starting handle, which assumed the battery situation would be iffy at best in the Siberian cold. Owing to those reinforcements and a brisk market for spare parts, Lada 2101s have survived decades to become a cult classic — a kind of Datsun 510 for the vodka-slugging set. Exactly how they've survived has often been a matter for the sometimes, let's say, overzealous aftermarket suppliers, for better or worse. Enjoy. [ via]


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Mike Spinelli

Bah. How could I?