Product Type: Lada cars
Newest Review: ... and ran for another 12 months before I traded it in for a 1500GLS. By this time Lada were fitting an eco carb which was I have to admit rub... more
Heap 'o' Junk...
Member Name: mattygroves10
Advantages: It's 'tall' . You can see over the top of most cars.
Disadvantages: Everything else
I originally learned to drive in Oregon. I learned to drive an automatic transmission, and the test was ridiculously easy (just drive for a bit, really). I never owned a car in the States, and rarely drove.
I moved to the UK. Being either sensible or a coward, depending on your point of view, I decided to start from scratch. After all, cars here are by and large manual transmissions...you drive on the left side of the road...roundabouts - all these things scared me.
I passed my test after two instructors (the first died...but I wasn't driving at the time) and two tests (that saga deserves an essay of its own sometime).
After a while, it was clear I needed a car. I had an infant in a large pushchair - the bus just wasn't practical for me.
We found a second-hand Lada Riva Estate 1.4 at, of all places, a BMW dealer (that's some trade in). The car was three years old at the time (F registered) and only had 24,000 miles on the clock. It was £1,000. Seemed like a good deal. Hmmmmm....
As mentioned, the Lada Riva I owned was an estate car. It had a small engine for the size of the car, and had a four speed manual transmission. It took unleaded petrol, which was only just becoming popular at the time.
Its maximum speed under normal driving conditions was around 60ish, although (and this IS true), I did get it to 90 on the M40. Downhill. With the wind behind me. As a digression, that WAS fun - watching the drivers' of posher cars (i.e. everyone else) mouths drop open from sheer amazement and disbelief.
It had a radio cassette (although I had to use tweezers to get the tapes out of the cassette player). That was pretty much it for features. I was lucky it had four wheels and an engine (of sorts).
Well...it WAS cheap - but I came to realise that it was overpriced even at £1000.
The Lada Riva was a 'tall' car. Not as tall as a van, SUV or MVP but taller than most passenger cars. This was nice, since I could see over the tops of most other cars - handy in traffic to see when we could go. If the car would go.
It took unleaded, as mentioned above. Although the car was petrol-greedy, at least the petrol was cheaper.
A standard service was fairly cheap, as the engine was so simple - there were no electronics to speak of in the car - a hobbyist could service it (my husband, who knows a bit about cars but isn't obsessive, did minor service on it). HOWEVER, things did go wrong a lot...but that belongs in the next section.
Visibility was good - the rear pillars were small, thus few blind spots. Being an estate car, the back of the car was pretty much at the back window, so I knew where the back of the car was when reversing.
The boot was ROOMY. This was absolutely crucial in the days when my daughter was small and still required enough equipment to aid a small nation. Or so it seemed at the time. I could get her pushchair, shopping, an extra pushchair and all the other bumf you have to carry around when travelling with a small child into the rear baggage space without a problem. Of course, the boot DID have a rather annoying problem...but I'll get to that shortly.
Hmmm...where to begin. Let's start with the smaller stuff.
The thingies (do they have a name?) that hold the rear boot door open didn't work. I had to prop the hatch open with a golf umbrella.
You could take the key out of the ignition and the engine would continue to run. Also, if you didn't turn off the ignition in exactly the right way (it took a knack), the radio would lose all of its pre-set stations. And the clock would go.
The front passenger window had lost its windy thing. The rear driver-side window went down on its own. To raise it, I had to open the door, put one hand on the inside and the other on the outside and pull it up. It came down during driving. Never mind - no-one ever tried to steal the car. I was rather hoping someone would...I left notes begging someone to. No, I didn't. I made that bit up. :)
The interior fan belt (the fan that allows you to demist your windows) finally gave up the ghost, and I was told it would be a fortune to replace. For a while, I could get it going Tardis style - just bang on the dash. Hard. After a bit, even that stopped working. On the subject of de-misting, both the rear screen defogger and the rear screen wiper died as well. I had the wiper fixed, but the demister was a lost cause - it would have cost more to have the window replaced than the car was worth.
Moving onto more serious problems, the alternator never worked properly - even when we had it replaced. I went through three batteries in around the five years I owned the car. If the car was left undriven for more than a few days, the battery would be as flat as the proverbial pancake.
The car badly needed a fifth gear. After about 40 miles an hour, you could no longer hear the radio, because the engine was very LOUD. The whole car shook during motorway driving. Fuel consumption was terrible, partly, I suspect, as a result of the lack of fifth gear. The fuel tank was tiny though - I spent around £20 filling it if memory serves. But keep in mind, this was back in around 1995ish. I spent a fair amount of time in petrol station forecourts.
The engine (1.4) was tiny and badly underpowered for a car of its size, meaning it did 0-60 in around...oh...three days. The Lada was a TANK. It also drove like one - there was no power steering, so I gained some pretty impressive muscles driving that car. The turning circle was poor, although it was a rare event indeed when I could muster the strength to turn the wheel to full lock.
The clutch cables needed regular replacement, and the gears were stiff. It had an old fashioned gear stick - just a stick with a knob at the end. Reverse was a bugger to get to - it required some force.
The car, really. It was an ugly off-white. It was an ugly car. It had ugly brown poo coloured plastic seats. I couldn't wear shorts in the car in the summer (and me in shorts really IS ugly), since the seat would burn my legs. No status symbol, this car!
The Slightly Amusing
The instruction booklet contained such nuggets of useful information such as: "Do not attempt to iron the seatbelts." Damn! And I do like freshly pressed seatbelts with a nice sharp crease down the middle.
"Do not drink the petrol; it is poisonous." There goes my evenings' entertainment out the window (that, if you recall, didn't shut properly anyway).
I did NOT make those up!
The End Result, or, How I Finally Got Rid of This Heap-o-Junk
Finally, the car wouldn't go - the alternator had completely packed up. Even if I could have started it, it wouldn't have stopped. The brakes were non-functional. By this time, any repairs would have cost far more than the car was worth.
Have you ever seen those small ads in local papers that say 'CARS WANTED FOR CASH - any car considered?' They lie. People wanted ME to pay so that they could take the Lada away.
I sent an email around work - £10 CAR! No-one wanted it. Finally, a mate of my boss, who runs a garage, took it away for me, for free. Remember, because of the lack of working brakes, it needed a solid tow bar. I asked what happened to it.
Apparently, it was donated to a local fire station so that they could set it alight and practise putting car fires out. A fitting end, I felt.
Comic Relief - Lada Jokes
A man walks into a garage and says, "can I have a windscreen wiper for my Lada?" The mechanic replies "sure, fair exchange".
What do you call a Lada with two exhausts? A wheelbarrow.
What do you call a Lada with a sunroof? A skip.
Oh, how I laughed!
Don't buy this car!
Thank you for your kind attention, now go and enjoy driving a PROPER car!
Summary: I drove it for five years. The longest five years of my life.