My story with a Fiat 124 is extensively well-documented here. Funnily enough, my mother–who adored that car and cherished it with her life–absolutely loathed the Lada. I’m guessing that the Russification of the thing had something to do with it, but if you don’t have such biases and are completely insane then I may have found something that may be worth taking a look at.
Yes, for a limited time only on eBay you too can drive the very car communist Russia drove. Somehow, this 1988 Lada Signet (The Canadian name for the 2105/Riva) has survived its 27-year life with only 32,378 km on the clock. That works out to an average of roughly 1200 km (800 miles) a year and, according to the listing it’s “One-owner and garaged in a heated garage since new”, which means it must be one of the luckiest Ladas in the world.
Really, this car has “Senior Citizen’s last car” written all over it: something relatively large that won’t make the ‘ol pension suffer much, but had a warranty and was good enough to take to the grocery store, church and the occasional meet with the grandkids. It’s a red 1988 Signet with a black vinyl interior. Power is provided by a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 64 Horsepower, mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. Its equipment includes windows, door locks and crucially, no horrible vent windows. It even has the original toolkit, owner’s manuals and a jack that’s never been used.
Which brings me neatly to the downsides, for one the seller actually makes a big deal out of “tires are factory-original”, which I’m guessing sounded brilliant when he was writing the ad, but to people into weird cars (who else is going to be looking for a pristine Lada?) it means that you should probably get some new tires before you try and drive anything more than two miles or carry anything heavier than a small tin of Danish cookies. You may also want to check absolutely everything rubbery for signs of dry rot. But the biggest two downsides are location (If it really is in Wheeling, IL, then why is the seller making such a fuss about it being “ready to go in USA”) and the price. I know it’s the best Lada out there, but could you live with yourself for the rest of your days knowing you were they guy that paid $20,000 for a Lada? I know I wouldn’t. Still, if you want to take complete leave of your senses and your money, the listing is here. If you want my advice you should try and import a Fiat 124. It’ll be better for lots of subjective reasons.