I shall tell you soon enough why Georgia is possibly the best country to visit if you’re a car enthusiast, but for now, all you need to know is that we already made it to Armenia only to wake up today in the politically sensitive Nagorno-Karabakh region. And now, we go deeper.

I have no idea how could our Lada survive the last 2,500 miles of the Caucasian Challenge, but yesterday, on our way back from the remote thermal spring of Zuar deep in the Karabakh mountains, I could already see that little bar in my head that just turned orange from green after we hit the 5,000th pothole of the day at 25 mph. Every tough route equals about a year’s worth of regular abuse, and our poor Lada has 33 years on its belt already.

The car agreed that enough is enough by letting its exhaust slide off at the joining in the middle, so I had to climb under it twice just to get it to base. Its underside was only slightly muddy.


Unsurprisingly, it makes a lot of noise now, which isn’t great because one thing we don’t want to do in the demilitarized zone between Karabakh and Azerbaijan is generate unnecessary attention. Officially, it’s off limits for tourists, but since we’re here to discover the wonders of this land with a Lada, that can’t stop us.

It’s not impossible. After breakfast, all we need to do is find a man in the village of Vank with a welder. I also wouldn’t mind if he had some rubber mounts from a Volga or something. That exhausts needs all the flexibility it can get. We’ll also have to buy a few packs of cigarettes just in case we need to sort out something with the soldiers along the way. Cash isn’t always the answer.

Today’s distance is 212 miles and if the car survives this, we’ll have every reason to celebrate at Yerevan. The teams can’t drive in convoys through no man’s land, but I’m hoping the matt black/orange Toyota Tundra will keep the officers occupied long enough for the Lada to slide through smoothly. Fingers crossed!


Photo credit: Máté Petrány and Balázs Mihálka/Jalopnik


Contact the author at mate@jalopnik.com.