Rare Rides: The Beige 1988 Lada Samara Is Neither Sporty Nor Luxurious

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We’ve featured a communist-built car before on Rare Rides; it was an old Czech-made Skoda 120, located in Canada. A specialized importer group brought many cars just like the Skoda into Canada in the 1980s, supplying bare bones Soviet Bloc vehicles to frugal Canadians living in Quebec and some other places.

Today’s Rare Ride was never part of LadaCanada, and lived its life abroad until very recently. Made in Russia, sold in Belgium, and imported to America, it’s a Lada Samara.

The Lada Samara was known by no less than 18 different names during its life. Demand ensured the Samara remained in production for 29 years — 1984 to 2013. Much like the Traction Avant we featured recently, the front-drive Samara was available in many different bodystyles: hatchbacks of various door configurations, sedans, vans, SUVs, and even convertibles. Seven versions in total, if you leave out the rear-engined rally car.

Power arrived from four-cylinder engines ranging from 1.1 to 1.5 liters of displacement.

The Samara was a big step forward for its manufacturer, AvtoVAZ. It was only the second vehicle from the company to feature new, original architecture, and the first available in front-wheel drive. Previous models developed by AvtoVAZ relied on existing Fiat mechanicals.

AvtoVAZ had the Fiat 124 in mind when creating the Samara, as the Fiat was a very successful and affordable family vehicle during its original production run (1966 to 1974). It’s worth noting that the 124 was the basis for many vehicles around the globe.

Starting with an AvtoVAZ-Fiat tie-up in 1966, the 124 would continue on for several decades as various VAZ and Lada vehicles, culminating in the Lada Riva, which remained in production until 2012.

Located at a dealer in Utah and labeled as a 1987 Porsche 924, the ad contains various erroneous information which should be ignored. The one valid piece of information contained therein is the price, which is just $3,500. Affordable and uncommon, you can have your own Rare Ride on the cheap.

Have a Rare Ride to submit, be it Lada Riva or something else? Send it to editors@ttac.com.

[Images via seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Stumpaster Stumpaster on Nov 29, 2017

    In the restricted Soviet market with no USD in circulation and no foreign cars for sale, Lada 2109 and Moskvich 2121 were true breakthroughs. After Lada 2103 or 2107, the Samara was just amazing in how it drove through the snow and how quiet it was. But you had to watch out for Armenian gangs in Moscow at the car market ripping you off when you tried to sell used one. Don't give up the keys till you have the money.

  • Skloon Skloon on Dec 03, 2017

    In the early 90s I had a Riva and my friends sister had one of these- the Riva was infinitely better although that isnt saying much

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