There were quite a few reactions to the Moskvitch text. And so you think about your first 'Russian' experiences. And for that I didn't even have to go to one of the former Soviet republics, where, as a number of responders reported, a lot of things have changed for the better. That's right: I know people in Chisinau who do not differ from Randstad hipsters in any way. They drive 'Russian' for nostalgic reasons. But my introduction to 'Russian' vehicles?
It all happened in Maarssen, in the shadow of Utrecht
My father has been in the field since quite early. He worked as a sales representative - for the NVCP, the Dutch Sales Office for Chemical Products. First he went on a journey by train. Later during the week he was sometimes allowed to use the TA of the director. He had to hand it in clean and refueled on Friday afternoon. He could pick it up again on Monday. With an empty tank. The NVCP went well, there was a Beetle for my father, an Olympia, a Rekord, a Simca 1500 and a Simca 1501, a few Mercedes diesels. An Audi 100 Avant. Because the NVCP had now become from the AKZO and because the AKZO thought that the Mercedes were too expensive.
A satisfied smoker ...
My father grew up after World War II, when two packs of cigarettes a day were more normal than addictive. Oh yes: my father developed cardiovascular problems. He quit smoking 'cold turkey'. But what he didn't say was that every day he put aside the money for two packs of cigarettes. And if the cigarettes became more expensive? Then he put a little more aside. When my father took early retirement (At 57 and a half!) There were speeches and gifts. And he was offered to take home the last Audi 100 that he had driven professionally as a thank you for the services rendered. He declined that offer.
Instead, he went to Garage Stam
That was the local Lada dealer and my father gave himself a Lada station wagon there, including an open roof. When collecting the Lada, my father had a bag full of guilders, rijksdaalders and quarters with him. That was flat 14.000 guilders. Money he would otherwise have smoked. Everyone was appropriately impressed, everyone was happy and satisfied. And my dad ridden Lada for years. Hassle free and to your satisfaction. Apparently Garage Stam is now a Dacia dealer, so the company has remained in the segment of the smart price / quality corner.
Meanwhile - a bit - popular (becoming)
In the meantime, such a 1981'er Lada was a nice full-fledged four-door car with Lada's four-cylinder ultra short-stroke engine derived from the Fiat 124. With that, the Lada had about 45 hp at the rear wheels. Think of a noisy top speed of something like 140 real kilometers. But the Lada was never referred to as 'Bahnburner'. And it is easy to live with up to a kilometer or 120. At that speed you could count on a consumption of 1 in 10.
Over time, Ladas have evolved from 'weaknesses' to cheap reliable transport, transport, student car, cult car and valued classics.
Finding a good copy here is not that easy. After the fall of communism, the Ladas were brought back to their native soil en masse. As an occasion or as a part donor.
I myself have been driving 'Russian' for over a quarter of a century now, but on three wheels. And during that time I always came home on my own. Because that is very practical of that 'Russian' stuff: It is made to be repaired on the road. And in the former Soviet republics you still have a lot 'on the road'.