Behind the scenes at Lada’s Russian headquarters

The Lada Riva was emphatically not one of the finest cars of the 1990s. It was based on the platform of the Vaz 2101 from 1970, which was a reworked version of 1966’s Fiat 124.

So when EU emissions regulations led to the Riva, along with the rest of Lada’s range, being withdrawn from sale in the UK in 1997, the only people who mourned were those seeking a punchline for jokes about bad cars.

But the story of Lada didn’t end in 1997. It was Russia’s national car brand and its ageing models – including the Riva – continued to be hugely successful in its home country. In fact, a Russian financial crisis in 1998 sent the price of imported cars soaring and helped Lada increase its market dominance.

But its market lead slowly eroded over the next decade, despite a few new models. In 2008, Renault bought a share in Lada’s parent company, Avtovaz. Shortly after, the global financial crisis hit Russian firms particularly hard and Avtovaz required a bailout from the Russian government to survive. Yet that low also led to Lada’s resurgence.

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This article was originally published on 23 September 2018. We’re revisiting some of Autocar’s most popular features to provide engaging content in these challenging times.