It is, in a way, the end of an era in Russia. No, Putin is still in power. And the reign of the modern plutocrats persists. Instead, we’re talking about the final nail in the coffin of a Soviet-era icon, the Lada Riva, aka VAZ 2107, aka that little black car you see all over Moscow in spy movies.
The Lada Riva was first introduced in the Soviet Union in 1982, and was an upgraded version of its predecessor, the Lada 2105, which itself was based on the 1960s-era Fiat 124 sedan. With virtually no competition in the centrally-controlled economy of the Soviet era, the little Lada saw widespread success, even though it was by any measure a miserable car. While it was never sold in the U.S., its Fiat cousin was, and that car’s legendary lack of reliability helped contribute to Fiat’s “Fix it again, Tony,” image and subsequent withdrawal from the U.S. market 30 years ago. The Lada version? Even worse.
Still, despite the fact that the Lada Riva was largely a joke in most European markets where it was sold, the little car had firmly ensconced itself in the minds of drivers everywhere. The Fiat 124 upon which the little Lada was based is the third most popular vehicle “platform” in the world, right after the Ford Model T and, of course, the reigning champion Volkswagen Beetle.
Automotive.com’s take: While the Lada Riva was never sold in the U.S., and it hasn’t even been sold in Western Europe since 1997, the little Russian car’s passing is still significant. Why? Because it shows how the world market is catching up to the U.S. market. Think back to the Volkswagen Beetle in the U.S. It sold extremely well for decades…until better cars came along in the 70s. In spite of the Bug’s cheapness and familiarity, buyers passed it by for the newer machinery. The same thing has happened to the Lada Riva, and it will happen to other stalwarts of a bygone era around the world. The hyper-competitive U.S. market is a glimpse into the future of the world’s market, where markets once considered “third world” are growing more sophisticated and are demanding more for their money than basic transportation. Any company resting on its past laurels, or still building ancient machinery, had better take notice.
Source: The Moscow News