That's it. The last VAZ-2104 from Lada's Classic series (aka the Riva) has driven off into the sunset (well, off the factory floor).

It's hard to believe, but Russians used to wait 15 years to take delivery of one of these, proof of the cruelty of the Soviet regime – a painful wait for a painful motoring experience. When the Lada was sold here in the 1970s and 1980s, before emission regulations and its sheer antiquity saw it withdrawn, its big selling point was its full tool kit. Its main downside was that you needed that to keep it on the road.

Originally a 1966-model Fiat 124 built under licence at the Togliatti factory in Soviet Russia (named after the leader of the Italian Communist party), the Russian planners replaced the pleasantly revvy Italian engine with a sort of tractor unit, removing the last chance of any fun being had in one, and successive restyles diluted the last vestiges of its original neat styling.

Like the Mini and the Beetle, the Lada enjoyed a long run, but won't be fondly remembered – a bit like the USSR.


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