Okay now, pipe down AMC fans, I’m not suggesting equivalence but rather, a similar role within AvtoVAZ’s corporate history. Developing new cars costs a lot of money, and a lot of automakers have found that a large investment in a new model has failed to save them from changing circumstances. Nevertheless, such cars often continue to be built for years under worsening financial conditions and later, changed ownership. Such was the case for both the later AMCs and more recent Ladas.
The Lada 112 is a development of the 111 and 110 models, but in actuality, all rely on the 1984 Sputnik/Samara for a lot of their basic technology and were never truly new cars. As most here already know, much the same be said for Kenosha’s cars following the ’63 Rambler and especially, their smaller cars following the ’70 Hornet which, using one of the company’s final all-new body shells over tried and true mechanicals, was conceived as one of the last traditional American compacts.
Chopped-down variants, some with four-cylinder power, were assigned import fighting duty while broughamification and all-wheel-drive kept the cars going until Renault could step in and build its own models alongside them, giving the basic Hornet a seventeen year lifespan.
In AvtoVAZ’s case, the Samara/Sputnik was conceived to give Soviet citizens a less rustic basic transportation device and to serve as a more competitive export. Its 1984 debut left it to languish alongside more sophisticated European competition and worsening economic conditions at home; sound familiar?
But it was an honest design, and with help from Porsche, its engineering was up-to-date enough to last, if not impress. All the while, development of new models continued and the first 110 concepts were hatched in the dark days of the early ’90s; the rebodied car finally hit the market in the 1995.
This 112, another of the rather rare and bizarre cars caught in Germany by r0b0tr10t, is little changed from the 110 and, under the skin, is similar to the original Samara/Sputnik. Though phased out in 2010, it essentially remains in production as the Priora, (a 2007 rebody which AvtoVAZ hopes won’t be rejected a priori based on buyers’ experiences with the 110/111/112!). The Samara itself stopped being built in 2013, seeing its maker through a painful privatization, a failed joint venture with GM and, in 2012, a merger with–who else?–Renault-Nissan (who now build derivatives of their own models in its place).
Related reading: Junkyard Classic: 1988 Lada Samara – The Modern Lada