We’ve seen a lada Ladas here over the years, but this veteran from 1973 shot in Budapest by Roshake caught my eye. Why? The very clever way the owner is blocking cold winter air from the radiator. I’m familiar with the piece of cardboard set right up against the actual radiator, but this is something else. And there’s some hood scoops too, in case the engine gets too hot?
Here’s a closer look:
Isn’t that brill? Yeah, it takes a bit more time and effort, but…
In case you’ve wondered what a well-worn 50 year old Lada looks like on the inside, here you go. Basic but rugged motoring. What’s not to like?
I loved the Fiat 124 when it came out; it was sort of the ultimate evolution of the conventional RWD small car. Dante Giacosa really wanted a FWD car, and had been working on various prototypes as well as the production Autobianchi Primula, but the conservative bosses at Fiat just weren’t quite ready yet to make the leap. Just as well, as there’s no doubt that the very simple and rugged 124 was a much better choice to be Russia’s Volkswagen.
20,500.000 millions of VW Beetles were made , 21 millions of this Lada sedan were built . Everyone can make his own conclusions
That reminds me of a joke about WWII generals. A British general is proud of how his nation’s logistics are provision its troops, and he boasts that each British soldier is receiving 2,000 calories of day in the thick of the war. The Russian general’s chest swells with pride, and he boasts that his troops receive nearly 3,000 calories a day. Finally, the American general asserts that US grunts are fueled by 5,000 calories a day as they’re on the march. The Russian general is incensed and incredulous, asserting the US general is liar, as nobody can eat that many potatoes!
That’s how you sell 21 million haphazardly assembled FIAT clones. The VW had to compete in free and rapidly changing markets. People who bought Beetles could have bought everything from Isettas to Corollas instead. They picked Beetles over many generations of small FIATs, Fords, Opels, Renaults, and the best small car efforts of Detroit. I’m not saying that the FIAT 124 wasn’t a better car. It was a thirty-year newer design, so it should have been. Would its sales have stood out among all cars ever made if it hadn’t been sold to a captive market? No.
Quantity has a quality all its own.
Attributed to Joseph Stalin, ~1943
Back in 80s my dad had one of those (slightly updated 2103 to be precise). Around 1989, just after fall of communism in Poland, he imported slightly used ’86 Escort from The Netherlands. He said it was like driving luxury car back then, especially comparing to Lada which was only 2-3 years older. It wasn’t a bad car when new in 1970’s, but it represented everything we were sick off by 1989.
I went to Panama in 1981 for the summer, and a brochure for the Polski FIAT line followed me home to Ohio. I was fascinated with the simple, boxy little car and always thought it would be cool to own something like that. This car gives a very similar vibe.
the 125S was the final mutation of that Fiat, there was also the 125T which was a road going homologation special for production sedan racing both those featured a twin cam 1600cc engine where the 124 had an old OHV engine,
When Ladas first appeared in NZ they had the four headlight 125 front but an OHV engine thicker steel bodies than Fiats were made of, they were heavier slower had worse handling than the 125 the looked like but lasted longer and easier to keep running.
Not only was the Fiat mechanical design a good platform to use for decades, but the styling really is timeless. And the Lada (mostly) avoided the tacked-on trim that made later 124’s and 125’s look prematurely dated. I know the original Golf gets lots of love, and it deserves it for its layout and practical hatch, but I think the 124 and 128 are peak three box small car design. And the wagons and 128 coupes are pretty nice too. 124 Coupes too, of course, but that’s aesthetically more than a just a 2 door coupe version of the sedan.
These babies were not unpopular in Canada an were imported into the USA around 1986 as a Dennis. I laughed because Dennis build carnage trucks in the UK, no relation. Lada Niva were brought by many Northern Brits who normally brought 3 year old cars for the same money .. A bloke in Hull made a living by exporting Ladas back to Russia starting a cottage industry in LHD conversions for around 150 USD!.
It really is a creative solution as I imagine that he could pull out any number of the folded slips of cardboard to fine tune the amount of air he’s admitting through the grill. It takes a little extra work than just slapping one big old piece of cardboard in there, as I once did for my VW diesel, but if he just works it into his morning routine, the results are sure to please.
It also looks like this owner has chosen to re-sculpt his front fenders with Bondo (or whatever that’s called in Hungary). Having once done that myself on an E3 BMW, I know that requires time, faith, and (ideally, but not so in my case) a steady hand.
A mad Hungarian with time on his hands 🙂
or, fix the thermostat?
Yes, but that requires a few more tools than scissors and cardboard.
This is sort of like the Highlights magazine meets Boys Life meets Captain Kangaroo. I love it.
This Lada is set for (cardboard) warp speed!
I used to do similar with my old OHV 124. Slip a piece of card between the radiator & hinge panel, until to got properly hot and use the heater exchanger as a cooler.
Even with a working ‘stat, the fixed fan overcooled the engine in winter. Not so much an issue with the (lovely) DOHC 1600 Special T’s; bigger engine and an electric fan.
Similarly, I think the air scoops (I’ve had similar!) were to induce some ram effect into the HVAC – the FIAT booster fan made more noise than airflow on most models. The scoop on my 127 was a genuine accessory!