It’s been 40 long years, but like perestroika, the last remnant of Italian-derived Soviet majesty finally comes to an undignified end. In Soviet Russia, production ends you!
The venerable Lada 2107, as it’s known, was already a 4-year old design (from Fiat) when it first entered production in 1970, gleaming and full of hope for the People. “Khrushchev’s Folly,” as it was never called, proved to multiply like the cockroaches that survived the Tsar Bomba—16.8 million were built, or if laid end-to-end away from Earth, enough to propel forth the Soviet Union’s space program.
The famous Lada sold for the low, low price of $7,500 under the names of Riva, 1500, 2101, 2107, and the evocatively-named Classic. Over the years it’s been raced, rallied, fornicated in, breathed upon by Lotus, driven through mud and snow with frightening alacrity, and abandoned in Chernobyl. Like cheap vodka and dubious wristwatches, it was still built in Russia, as well as Egypt, West Germany, and Kazakhstan.
And despite an increase of sales to 136,000 in 2010—spurred on by a “Cars For Clunkers-” type program that substituted clunkers for both parts of the equation—the last Classic strides off its line, Gosudarstvenniy Gimn SSSR blaring from the Red Army Choir. It takes its rightful place among the Volkswagen Beetle (ironically enough, given the Beetle’s original development) as two cars with the longest production runs. Legions of fans around the world (and some in the UK) will miss it. За тех, кто уже не с нами!