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The Land Rover Writer

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Soft Spot for Bad Cars




I admit to a soft spot for bad cars - not dangerous cars, poorly engineered or egregiously maimed designs, but bad cars. These cars don't do anything really wrong but they advance nothing, handle turns reluctantly and generally represent too much compromise in design, manufacture and purchase.

So I tip my cap to any enthusiast of the Lada, the Fiat-derived car of the Russian masses, which is now destined to end its production. 

The Lada was based on a Fiat design, which in turn will look awfully familiar to devotees of the Fiat 124 in the USA: square and boxy. While the car had a commendable engine and transmission in the Fiat iteration, the Russian parent of the Lada altered the drivertrain for the more primitive conditions and layout of the Russian road network. 


With a majority of the cars exported around the world a Lada's deficiencies became well known but tolerated due to a low purchase price and generally simply mechanicals that could be repaired anywhere. As a Finnish enthusiast noted in this story in The New York Times, the car did come with a blast furnace of a heater. 

Off road fans might remember the Lada Niva, which emulated the Subaru lineup with 4x4 vehicles.