Aleko or Simca?
It should have been an easy 'copy / paste' case. The Government had decided that a new, modern Russian car was to come. And decided that the Simca 1307 had to be duplicated. Because there happened to be a minister who thought that a beautiful, modern car. The approach was to use existing Moskvitch engines in it. But the technicians at Moskvitch refused to damage their self-esteem too much to make an almost 100% copy of it. But the result was clearly still indebted to the Simca 1307 for the observer.
"Aleko" (In Russian: "АЛЕКО", derived from the manufacturer's name "Автомобильный завод имени Ленинского Комсомола", Avtomobilny zavod imeni Leninskogo Komsomola, which in turn stands for "Autofabriek van Lenin's Komsomol") was the name the new Russian had to make an export success. At the same time - in the late 1980s - the Russians had also invented the Tavria. That not so large front-wheel drive was made at ZAZ and sold in Europe as Lada Tavria. And if you have ever seen one, you can report.
The production of the Aleko started in 1986
The production of the first Russian car, with an effective streamline in mind, continued until 1997 when a fresh model was introduced. And the car was a giant step forward compared to its highly dated predecessors. The hatchback had front-wheel drive, McPherson struts, and torsion-sprung rear wheels. In addition to 'own' motorization, Alekos were made for export with power sources purchased from Ford and Peugeot. The length of the engines ensured that they did not fit right into the front. That's why they got the conventional north-south setup
The development of these cars was started before the Lada Samara was put on paper. But still the Lada came on the market earlier. The Aleko was more comfortable. But with the fall of communism (1991) and the ensuing crisis, production went completely wrong. Just like the Dnepr motorcycles from that time, the bottom fell out of quality control. And that had what our southern neighbors call 'disastrous' consequences for the sales figures.
In the most important export markets France and Germany, where the car was sold as 'Lada Aleko', the buyers dropped out. Production in Bulgaria also stagnated.
Just to the Tavria
The ZAZ 1102 Tavria was a compact car of the Soviet Russian, later Ukrainian car manufacturer Zaporozhsky avtomobilny zavod. The VAZ development department had the main share in the development of the modern 3-door hatchback. Series production started in 1987, initially the Tavria was still running parallel to its predecessor ZAZ 968 M. The car had a 1,1-liter engine developed by VAZ that reduced fuel consumption by a third compared to its predecessor.
The Tavria was also not the export success that the Russians dreamed of. In Ted Sluymers Autoboek '89 the name is once mentioned as one of the Russians who was coming. Sluymer concluded “The price also plays an important role for these cars. Because of the undoubtedly low prices, there are certainly opportunities. "
No happy ending
The Dutch Lada importer Gremi Auto-import also bought a few copies of the Tavria 1100 to the Netherlands. Gremi estimated that he could bring the model to the market in one version in mid-1992 for a price that would be around 13.000 guilders, the Belgian importer Scaldia-Volga SA was not yet sure what to do with it. In the end, just like with the Aleko, Gremi decided not to import into the Netherlands.