Freaky Friday: Russians Just Know How to Have a Good Time, Period

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
freaky friday russians just know how to have a good time period

Maybe it’s the cold, the dodgy economy, or lingering memories of decades spent lining up for milk. Whatever the motivation, Russians don’t seem to need the latest and greatest high-tech gadget to help them pass the time. Nope, just grab a few friends, spend a few rubles amassing a collection of ancient hatchbacks, and hit the ice.

The winter of 2017 has brought an inventive new sport to the frozen wastes of the Motherland, and locals can thank a plethora of worthless, Soviet-era crapwagons for the entertainment. Apparently, there are automobiles worth less than stones.

In the snowy city of Yekaterinburg, the hardly inhabitants of Sverdlovsk Oblast can thank the lowly VAZ-1111 Oka for their new pastime of auto curling. Yes, it’s the same game of precision, boredom and confusing scoring that takes place in buildings you hope to never enter, only with larger rocks. In this case, two-cylinder ones.

Designed in the late 1970s, the Oka eventually made it to production in 1988 and lingered until 2008. Looking like an even cheaper version of the Ford Festiva, the bargain-basement Oka was renowned for its cheapnesss, inexpensiveness, affordability, low ownership costs, and off-road ability. Its 650 cc twin was actually a Lada Samara engine cut in half.

Perhaps the city of Yekaterinburg was still annoyed by all the press a certain city to the south got a few years back with its explode-y asteroid. Certainly, it figured it was about damn time for an event worthy of national publicity. (A 1979 military anthrax outbreak notwithstanding.) So, on a large public skating rink, it cobbled together two teams of Oka drivers. Just like in a regular game of curling, the teams attempted to slide their “stone” closest to the bulls-eye painted on the ice.

In order to lighten the vehicles, and for safety, window glass and engines were jettisoned pre-tournament. Thus, the cars got underway in the same manner as a curling stone, minus the seemingly pointless sweeping and incessant cries of “hurry haaaard!” What does that even mean?

“Loud bangs could be heard all around, as the fragile Okas, cars that were considered somewhat a joke even by Soviet consumers brought up on Ladas, clattered into each other,” reported RT.

The winning team walked away with approximately $1,600, which could buy dozens, if not hundreds, of VAZ-1111 Okas.

[Image capture: TACC/ YouTube]

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  • Gtem Gtem on Mar 24, 2017

    "The winning team walked away with approximately $1,600, which could buy dozens, if not hundreds, of VAZ-1111 Okas." $1600 is about 90k rubles give or take. A really rusty non-runner Oka could probably be found for 5k rubles, 10k for a really rough runner. Also worth looking at in the crazy world of Russian motorsports is ZiL farm truck racing:

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Mar 27, 2017

    In crashes YOU!!!

  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?