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Lada Car Sales

Lada car sales - wherever you go in Bulgaria, you’ll see Ladas about amongst other types of car. The electric company have Lada Nivas, village dwellers pootle around the roads with trailers on the back of battered Combis, and authorities whiz around in their specially adapted police Ladas.

Although the Bulgarians see it as their national car, it actually hails from 1970’s Russia, manufactured by a company called AvtoVAZ, which still has the original headquarters in Togliatti. The Lada car sales boomed in the late seventies when the Lada Riva made waves around Western Europe. The craze continued over the next two decades, with Lada models exported worldwide, bar the US, although Canada did sell over 12,000 cars in the first year of importation.

The mighty Lada is such a globetrotter that there are even 4x4 Nivas driving around Antarctica due to the presence of Russian research bases! The Lada got its name from a type of Slavic or Viking boat, called Ladia. Lada is also the name of a Slavic goddess of youth, love and beauty. The original design had hardiness and durability in mind, as it was initially produced to counter the harsh Siberian climate and underdeveloped roads. This ruggedness is the reason why many Lada drivers are still running high mileages in the original car they bought over twenty years previously!

When AvtoVAZ first exported the cars to the UK and Ireland in 1974, purchasers raved about the boot capacity, durability and low price, but the old, original Lada model was also criticised for poor fuel economy and outdated technology. When the Lada Riva was introduced in the eighties sales soared peaking in 1988 at 33,000 units. The outdated sixties designs were the eventual downfall of the Lada’s popularity in the UK.

The early nineties saw the introduction of fancier brands of car, and the only thing the Lada still had going for it was the very low price of under £5,000. Due to the problems going on in Russia at that time, the money and time to improve the Lada to fit in with modern times was unattainable. However, the nifty car did have a cult following of vintage car lovers and Lada enthusiasts in the UK. This was aided by the addition of the Niva, which caught the eye of off-road hobbyists. The love for the Niva is still alive in 4x4 fraternities and in Tallinn you can travel to buy right-hand drive Nivas for as little as £1,800.

The range was eventually completely withdrawn from the UK market in 1997, as well as most other European markets. The resale value in the UK for old Lada models was poor, and several attempts to reintroduce newer (although the die-hards would argue, not improved) Lada models into the UK market failed.

U.K Lada car sales 2012

But, recently after a 15 year absence the Lada car sales have entered the U.K market and proved popular with many, and with the price tag of around £11 000 great value for a new car.

The Russians and their former Soviet counterparts remained proud of their hardy and charismatic car, and in 2006, celebrated the Lada reaching its 40-year manufacture mark. The Lada also has a 35-year reputation in motor sport, and AvtoVAZ have full intentions of entering the Lada in future FIA World Touring Car Championships to build up recognition worldwide.

Although the only Ladas you may see around Bulgaria are the typical clapped out Combis, look a little closer, and you’ll see the Lada has been given it’s long awaited makeover. Dealerships around the country are stocking the sleek, Fiat style models, such as the Lada Kalina, starting at 16,000 leva, which are imported from Russia in various shiny colours with all the mod cons. The updated Nivas, which start from just 16,400 leva are popular for ex-pats who want a vehicle that can tackle the roads in rural villages but cost less than a Land Rover.

The other benefits of driving a Lada in Bulgaria apart from the price? The mechanics, and all your neighbours, will know the engine well. Parts will be easy to find and repairs will be cheap. Another money saver is that gas systems are easy to install in Ladas. At less than half the price of petrol and diesel, this makes the car an efficient runner. Another important thing is you won’t stick out like a sore thumb to the locals. You may have already caused a splash by arriving in a remote village, and the sight of a foreign model of car careering around will cause tongues to wag more. If you are the kind of person who prefers staying low key, a ‘Bulgarian’ car is ideal.

This old Russian lady has been through a lot, and come out the other side looking shiny and new. Yet, even with the emergence of newer models and increasing lada car sales, history dictates the old Ladas owned by village dwelling die-hards will continue to be repaired by their ever persistent owners for another twenty years to come.