In our travels through Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, we noticed that there were a lot of interesting old cars on the road, especially in the rural areas. These cars are called Ladas. We saw mostly the sedans and some 4x4s called the Niva. They have a boxy, low profile look. They range from old rusted hunks of metal that look like they are about to fall apart, to ones that are in perfect condition. We saw them in every colour you could imagine.
The Lada was first introduced in 1970. It was made by a french company called AvtoVas which was part of the car company Groupe Renault. The name Lada comes from a Viking longship (lad’ya), which is represented on it’s logo. Besides being personal cars, they are commonly used as police cars, taxis, and other public service vehicles.
Ladas have a long history in Russia and other post-Soviet countries. They can also be found in many parts of Europe, Africa, Canada, Caribbean, and South America.
The reason Ladas are so successful is because they are affordable, reliable, useful, and have simple mechanics. There were not many car repair shops in the Soviet Union, so the owners had to fix the cars themselves. Because of their simple mechanics, they were easy to service.
Today, there are many more models available. Many of the old models are still driven in the ex-Soviet countries. Ladas are gaining popularity in the west again. In fact, Ladas will be re-introduced to Canada in 2020.
I find these cars very interesting. We rode in a few Lada taxis and I loved how comfy the seats were. The cars were even able to withstand bumpy, windy, dirt roads. It made for a fun ride!