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"Here in my car", said 80s pop hero Gary Numan, "I feel safest of all". He obviously never shared the same stretch of road as me, then. Automotive tales of mirth and woe, please.

(, Thu 22 Apr 2010, 12:34)
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Along with the One-Party Marxist State, the Socialist Centralised Economy, Collectivised Agriculture, and Floral Wallpaper..................
... Russian's next daft export was the Lada. My first car was a mid-blue 1983 Classic 1600 4-speed. Twin-round headlights and bumpers akin to railway tracks. I named it Lenin, primarily because it smoked like he did.

I have never driven a car imbued with such amazing contradictions.
The engine was gutsy, but really needed the 5th gear. Unbeknownst to me the main crank screw came out (the one where the manual crank handle goes in) on a trip to Wellington (5 people + full boot), and I didn't realise this until I had returned to the starting point over 1000km later. Yet the engine didn't miss a beat - the main flywheel had a groove worn in it due to the odd angle it was in, but that was it. Yet the damn timing chain had to be realigned every month, and you could only travel 200km before you had to refill it with oil.

Handling was amazing. Powerless steering, but easy to turn. You could get into all sorts of trouble then take your hands off the wheel, and like a MiG29, she'd sort herself out and go back to level. But if you were passing a large vehicle with the wind coming from your left, as soon as you'd cleared it you'd have to yank hard left, as the wind would hit you and put you into the oncoming lane if you weren't quick enough.

The best part was the headlights! On lowbeam they had the candle-power of Anti-aircraft searchlights - you'd always get flashed by oncoming cars to dip. Now, if you flicked them to full-beam - just for an instant - the oncoming car would light up like a Nuremberg Rally and swerve for a bit before their eyes returned to normal. Seriously, no car I have driven since has had better headlights.

The interior was bollocks - no electric heating or venting that worked, and if you opened the lower vent barrel after a downpour you got wet feet, and wet carpet that then stank like a Russian hobo's armpit.
But the passenger seat folded down to a near single size bed, and could be done so with a deft hit to the side in just the right place... very handy to impress the frauleins for sure.... :)

Traded it in for a Corolla II after 2 years.... and after two tappets cracked and superheated exhaust gasses shot back up the wrong way and set the air filter on fire.
It scared the hell out of my dad who was following at the time....

In 1996, a friend who was trying a Russian mail order bride service got a letter from one lass that said she worked at the Lada factory. Helpfully she included a photo of herself sitting on the sign outside said factory.
He took one look at her chintzy early 1980s style clothes made of 1970s polyester, and the faux Tammy Fae Bakker makeup and remarked:
"This totally explains the Lada Samara."

Edit: For some strange reason, in NZ Ladas were classed as Euro cars, so spare parts were always horrendously expensive - and as any Lada owner will tell you, you need A LOT of spare parts!
(, Sun 25 Apr 2010, 10:29, 4 replies)
You think that's bad?
Try driving a Polonez. It's the dirty inbred cousin of the Lada, cos it was based on the Fiat 125, which was based along with the Lada on the Fiat 124. Oooh, history.
(, Sun 25 Apr 2010, 11:13, closed)
Nice little link
(, Sun 25 Apr 2010, 23:16, closed)
I remember them!
My mum had a polonez years ago.

Any problems with the car were usually quite severe.
(, Mon 26 Apr 2010, 17:47, closed)
The later ones that were exported post-1991 were.
the Rover engines most of them had were particularly awful.
(, Tue 27 Apr 2010, 7:55, closed)

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