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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the beige 1988 lada samara is neither sporty nor luxurious

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]

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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

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.