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AvtoVAZ (АвтоВАЗ in Russian) is a Russian automobile manufacturer, also known as VAZ, Volzhsky Automobilny Zavod (ВАЗ, Во́лжский автомоби́льный заво́д ), and better known to the world as Lada was set up in the late 1960s in collaboration with Fiat.

It produces nearly one million cars a year, including the Samara, Lada 110 and the Niva off-roader. The variations of their first car, the model VAZ-2101, based on the 1966 Fiat 124 and introduced in 1970, are still the cars most associated with its Lada brand.

The VAZ factory is one of the biggest in the world, has over 90 miles (144 km) of production lines and is unique in that most of the components for the cars are made in-house.

The original Lada is often thought of as a 'rugged' car, lacking in most modern luxuries expected in modern cars. While sanctions banned their export to the United States, Ladas were available in several Western countries during the 1970s and 1980s, including Canada and the United Kingdom.


The plant was set up as a collaboration between Italy and the Soviet Union and built on the banks of the Volga river in 1966. A new part of town Togliatti, named after an Italian communist, was built around the factory. The Lada was envisaged as a "people's car" like the Citroën 2CV or the VW Beetle.

The lightweight Italian Fiat 124 was adapted into something intended to survive treacherous Russian driving conditions. Among many changes, aluminium brake drums were added to the rear, and the original Fiat engine was dropped in favour of a newer design also purchased from Fiat. This new engine had a modern overhead camshaft design but was never used in Fiat cars. The suspension was raised (to clear rough Russian roads) and the bodyshell was made from thicker, heavier steel. The first Lada models were equipped with a starting handle in case the battery went flat in Siberian conditions, though this was later dropped. Another feature specifically intended to help out in cold conditions was a manual auxiliary fuel pump.

Engines fitted to the original Ladas start with the 1.2 L carburetor in the original and go up to the 1.7 L export model set up with a General Motors single point fuel injection system. Diesel engines were later fitted for the Russian market only. The drivetrain is a simple rear-wheel drive setup with a live rear axle. The engine is an inline four with two valves per cylinder and a single overhead camshaft.

The Fiat-based Ladas feature various headlight, trim and body styles. The original, Fiat style models included VAZ 2101 sedan and VAZ-2102 station wagon. 1972 saw introduction of deluxe version of the sedan, VAZ-2103, which was based on Fiat 124 Speciale and featured new 1.5L engine and twin headlights. In 1974, the original VAZ-2101 was updated with new engines and interiors; VAZ-2102 underwent the same improvements in 1976. The body style with two round headlights was manufactured until 1988, all others remain in production in slightly updated form.

The VAZ-2106 introduced in 1976 was an updated verion of VAZ-2103, featuring different interiors and new 1.6L engine. 2106 is the oldest and the most popular rear-drive model of AvtoVAZ, its production continued until 2001 and still carried on by licensees.

VAZ-2105, still based on the 2101 but updated to 80s styling, was introduced in 1980. Square headlights and new body panels distinguish this style from the old models. A deluxe version, VAZ-2107, was out in 1982; it featured a better engine, refined interiors and Mercedes-like radiator grille. In 1984, the VAZ-2104 station wagon completed the line-up.

In the domestic market, these classic models were called Zhiguli. The Lada name was used for exports only, but a large share of Ladas was reexported from Eastern bloc countries, so the brand was well known in the domestic market as well.

Non-Fiat models

AvtoVAZ designers proved that they had some original ideas when the VAZ-2121 Niva was introduced in 1978. This highly popular car was made with off-road use in mind, featuring full-time all-wheel drive, an original body style and the most powerful 1.7L engine in the VAZ range. The Niva has also been available with 1.9L Peugeot sourced diesel engine. The Niva is still in production.

Based on the success of the Niva, the design department prepared the new family of front-wheel drive models by 1984, a completely domestic design; the body is not unsimilar to Fiat Regata though. Production started with VAZ-21083 Sputnik 3-door hatchback; the series were later renamed Samara. The Samara engine was mostly designed and produced in-house, had a new single overhead cam design and was driven by a more modern rubber belt. The combustion chambers were developed in collaboration with Porsche. The line-up features completely new body and interiors, front McPherson suspension and rear torsion bar, rack and pinion steering and updated 5-speed gearshift. 5-door VAZ-21093 hatchback followed in 1987, and 4-door 1.5L sedan, VAZ-21099, was introduced in 1990. The same year, the front sides and radiator grille were restyled on the whole Samara range.

The 2108-2109 models were in production until 2001, when they were restyled with new side panels, interiors and 1.5L fuel injection engines (though fuel injection was available as early as 1995). The Lada 2109 hatchback was rebadged as Lada 2114, and Lada 21099 sedan was rebadged as the Lada 2115. The 2104-21099 model range was transferred to IzhMash and ZAZ and is still being manufactured. In 2004 VAZ also introduced Lada 2113, a restyled version of Lada 2108, but this car has never used much popularity, as the Lada 2108 was only popular for a short time.

VAZ-1111 Oka micro-car, which resembles the Fiat Panda (though has no relation to it), was introduced in 1988, and in 1991 the production was transferred to KamAZ and SeAZ factories.

The VAZ-2120 Nadezhda minivan is based on original Niva and is in low-volume production since 1998. A five-door version of the Niva, the VAZ-2131, has been in production since 1995.

The break-up of the USSR delayed the production of new 110-series by a couple of years. The VAZ-2110 sedan was introduced in 1996, the 2111 station wagon followed in 1998 and the 2112 hatchback completed the range in 2001. These models are basically based on Samara technology with a new body and fuel injection engines as standard, though carburated versions have also been available up until 2001. The 110-series remains in production and has been continually updated over the years- for example, engines used to be 1.5 L units with either 8 or 16 valves, but these have now been upgraded to 1.6 L units that meet stricter emissions rules.

Market share

Changes to emissions- and safety-legislation meant that AutoVAZ withdrew from most Western markets by the late 1990s; often, there were also problems with spare parts. In the USA they were never sold due to the cold war, but they were available in Canada (where the Niva was quite popular) however Canadians travelling in the USA in a Lada found out that some gas stations refused to sell fuel to them due to anti-Soviet sentiment. The rise in popularity of Far Eastern imports from newly established manufacturers such as Daewoo, Proton, Kia and Hyundai contributed to Lada's demise in the West. These Korean and Malaysian-manufactured vehicles offered modern Japanese-developed technology and high equipment levels which Lada could not hope to compete with.

Though the original Lada, and as of the early part of the new millennium the Samara, have now been withdrawn from Europe, the Lada 110 and the Niva are still sold on the European market, as are the more modern models. The Lada is widely available in many Central- and South American countries as well as Africa, the Middle East and in all of the former Soviet Union.

Due to the heavy taxing by the Russian government on imported used vehicles, which they were doing to prop up the locally built new car market, Russian car dealers and individuals began reimporting Lada's because they were exempt from the tax laws governing foreign made imports. As used cars in the west, the Ladas were considered unfashionable to the point of ridicule and therefore worthless. Most of export Lada Samara cars were reexported back in 1994-1996 and they sold very well, due to popular belief that export Ladas are produced with better care than domestic versions. For this reason, Ladas are a relatively rare sight nowadays in Western European countries, although AvtoVAZ has since developed a new generation of Lada cars and is bidding to return to these markets.

Although current Lada cars miss many features standard on a modern car, such as power steering, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning and automatic transmission, they have been popular in Russian because of their low price; that is beginning to change in light of persistent build quality problems and the sales of domestic models are showing a steady decline over the last few years.

There are lot of garage firms that offer customization in the form of different head and tail lamps, front fascia, spoilers, seats and steering wheels. Some authorized services can even retrofit many kinds of modern equipment using imported parts, with no loss of producer warranty.

Recent developments

As AvtoVAZ was allowed to sell cars to private dealers in late 1980s, mathematician Boris Berezovsky arranged to resell the cars to the public through his LogoVAZ dealerships. In 1993 he started a campaign to collect funds for the people's automobile and created the AVVA venture, which stands for All-Russian Automobile Alliance; the AvtoVAZ held a major share in the venture. The plans were to build a completely new plant for production of the VAZ-1116 supermini. However, the financial crisis of 1998 put these plans to an end. The development concepts of 1116 made a foundation of the Lada Kalina range.

GM-AvtoVAZ, a joint-venture with General Motors, adopted updated version of Niva, VAZ-2123, that was considered for production since the 1990s. Named Chevrolet Niva, it's being built on the venture's plant since 2001 and is exported to Europe and Latin America. In 2004, the Chevrolet Viva, a four-door version of the Opel Astra G, was introduced.

VAZ has also tried to get into the sportier markets: several Ladas were factory-tuned and given a Momo steering wheel. A convertible was also produced. In 2003, VAZ presented the concept car Lada Revolution, an open single seater sports car powered by a 1.6 L engine producing 215 hp. There are other experimental cars like VAZ-210834 Tarzan SUV concept, VAZ-1922 monster truck and VAZ-2359 pick-up both based on Niva etc. The VAZ-211223 110-series coupe, with the sister models 111 and 112 has been developed with a modern and luxurious look and feel, has been mass-produced and are popular in Russia today.

2005 saw the introduction of the new Kalina supermini lineup to the market. AvtoVAZ has built a new modern plant for this model and hoping to sell some 200,000 cars annually. Test production of Lada 1118 sedan started in November 2004 and full-scale assembly was launched in May 2005. The Lada 1119 hatchback and Lada 1117 station wagon with updated DOHC 1.6L engines are to follow in 2005-6.

The restyled 110-series model, Lada 2170 Priora, is set for production in Q3 2006.

AvtoVAZ was considering the local production of Ecotec Family 1 (FAM-1) engines using the equipment transferred from Szentgotthard, Hungary plant. A transmissions plant was to be bought from Daewoo Moto India, a former Daewoo Motors subsidiary that was not sold to GM. The engines and transmissions were to be used in both GM-AvtoVAZ and Lada cars. As of Summer 2005, these plans are cancelled and VAZ is seeking another way to acquire some modern powerplant technology.

After some shakeups in the management caused by a recent acquisition from Rosoboronexport, AvtoVAZ is currently in talks with Renault to negotiate a CKD assembly of the Renault Logan. They have also contracted Magna International to design a new car platform and equip a new plant for its production [1]


Each model has internal index that reflects modifications level, based on the engine and other options installed — for example, the VAZ-21103 variant has the 1.5 L 16V engine, while the VAZ-21104 uses the latest 1.6 L 16V fuel injection engine. See also Automobile model numbering system in USSR and Russia. Since 2001, trim levels are also indicated by including a number after the main index: '-00' means base trim level, '-01' means standard trim and '-02' designates deluxe version; for example, VAZ-21121-02 means Lada 112 hatchback with 1.6L SOHC engine in deluxe trim level.

The car's name was formed from 'VAZ-index model name. The classic Fiat-derived models were known on the domestic market as Zhiguli (Жигули) until late-1990s, when the name was dropped; thus, the 2104-2107 range, as well as 110-series, actually lack a model name. The restyled Sputnik range was renamed Samara but the Niva and the Oka retained their names. By 2000s, the VAZ designation was dropped from market names in favour of Lada and simplified export naming conventions were adopted, so VAZ-2104 effectively became Lada 2104, VAZ-2110 became Lada 110, VAZ-2114 became Lada Samara hatchback or Lada 114 and so on.

The model names varied from market to market and as such should not be used except to indicate a certain export market. Instead, it is advisable to refer solely to the model number as these are the same for all markets.

Classic Zhiguli

  • 2101 Sedan
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2101 1.2L Lada 1200 1970-1982 Right-hand drive
21011 1.3L Lada 1300 1974-1981 Right-hand drive
21012 1.2L - - Left-hand drive
21013 1.2L Lada 1200 S 1977-1983 Right-hand drive
21016 1.5L - - Police version
21018 1.3L - - Wankel engine
21019 2.3L - - Wankel engine
  • 2102 Station Wagon
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2102 1.2L Lada 1200 Combi 1972-1983
21021 1.3L Lada 1300 Combi 1978-1986
21022 1.2L - - -
21024 1.3L - - -
21025 1.5L Lada 1500 Combi 1978-1986
21026 1.5L - - -
  • 2103 Sedan
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2103 1.5L Lada 1500 1972-1984
21033 1.3L Lada 1300 S 1972-1984 Export only
21035 1.1L Lada 1100 1977-1984 Export only
  • 2106 Sedan
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2106 1.6L Lada 1600 1976-2001
21061 1.5L Lada 1500 DL 1976-1988
21063 1.3L Lada 1300 SL 1976-1988
21064 1.6L Lada 1600 SL - Deluxe version, export only, 5-speed gearshift
21065 1.6L - 1990-2001 Deluxe version, export only, 5-speed gearshift
  • 2104 Station Wagon
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2104 1.3L Lada Nova 1300 Break
Lada Nova 1300 Estate
Lada Nova 1300 Family
21041 1.6L Lada Laika 2000-2004 5-speed gearshift
21043 1.5L Lada Nova 1500 Break
Lada Nova 1500 Estate
Lada Nova 1500 Family
1984-2004 5-speed gearshift
21044 1.7L Lada Nova 1700 Break
Lada Nova 1700 Estate
Lada Nova 1700 Family
- Export only; CPI fuel injection from GM
21045 1.5L Diesel - - Export only; licensed diesel engine
21047 1.5L - - Luxury version of 21043
  • 2105 Sedan
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2105 1.3L Lada Nova
Lada 1300 L
21051 1.2L Lada Junior
Lada 1200 L
21053 1.5L Lada Nova
Lada Laika
21054 1.6L - - Police version; additional fuel tank and battery
21059 - - - Police version; comes with VAZ-4132 Wankel engine
2015 VFTS 1.9L - 1982 High performance version with 180 hp engine (240 hp turbocharged)
  • 2107 Sedan
Index Name Engine Export Name Production Years Notes
2107 1.5L Lada 1500 SL
Lada Riva
Lada Laika
21072 1.3L - 1982-1995
21073 1.7L Lada Riva
Lada Laika
1991-2001 Export only; CPI fuel injection from GM
21074 1.6L - - Police version; additional fuel tank and battery
21079 2.6L - - Police version; comes with VAZ-4132 Wankel engine


Index Engine Export name Production Notes
2121 Niva off-roader
2121 1.6L Lada Niva 1977-1993 four-wheel drive
21213 1.7L Lada Niva 1993 four-wheel drive; restyled rear door
21214 1.7L Lada Niva 1993 four-wheel drive; restyled rear door; CPI fuel injection from GM
2131 Niva off-roader
2131 1.7L Lada Niva 1995 extended 5-door version of 2121
2108 Sputnik 3-door hatchback
2108 1.3L Lada Samara 1300 1984-2001
21081 1.1L Lada Samara 1100 1984-1996 Export only
21083 1.5L Lada Samara 1500 1984-2001
21083i 1.5L Lada Samara 1500i 1993-2001 Multi-point fuel injection
21086 1.3L Lada Samara 1300 1990-1996 Export only; right-hand drive for United Kingdom
21087 1.1L Lada Samara 1100 1990-1996 Export only; right-hand drive for United Kingdom
21088 1.5L Lada Samara 1500 1990-1996 Export only; right-hand drive for United Kingdom
1706 1.5L Lada Chelnok 1990 Pickup truck version of 2108
2108-91 Police version; comes with VAZ-415 Wankel engine
2109 Sputnik 5-door hatchback
2109 1.3L Lada Samara L 1300 1987-1997
21091 1.1L Lada Samara L 1100 1987-1996 Export only
21093 1.5L Lada Samara L 1500 1990-2001
21093i 1.5L Lada Samara L 1500i 1993-2001 Multi-point fuel injection
21096 1.3L Lada Samara L 1300 1990-1996 Export only; right-hand drive for United Kingdom
21098 1.5L Lada Samara L 1500 1990-1996 Export only; right-hand drive for the United Kingdom
2109-90 Police version; comes with VAZ-415 Wankel engine
21099 Sputnik sedan
21099 1.5L Lada Samara Forma 1500 1990-2001
21099i 1.5L Lada Samara Forma 1500i 1993-2001 Multi-point fuel injection
210993 1.3L Lada Samara Forma 1300 1990-2001
1111 Oka micro-car
1111 0.7L 1988-1990 Licensed to SeAZ and KamAZ
11113 0.8L 1990 Kama, produced at KamAZ
2123 Niva
2123 1.7L Chevrolet Niva 2001 Never appeared under Lada/VAZ brand; produced by GM-AvtoVAZ; multi-point fuel injection
2120 Nadezhda minivan
2120 1.8L 1998 Based on 2131; carburetor
21204 1.7L 1998 CPI fuel injection from GM
2110 sedan
2110 1.5L 1996-2001 carburetor
21102 1.5L Lada 110 1998-2004 8V i
21103 1.5L Lada 110 1998-2004 16V i
21101 1.6L Lada 110 2004 8V i
21104 1.6L Lada 110 2004 16V i
21105 1.7L 1996-?? carburetor
21106 2.0L Opel C20XE Ecotec engine (by external car tuner)
21108 1.8L Lada Premier A "limousine" with increased wheelbase and up-stroked engine (by external car tuner)
2111 station wagon
21110 1.5L Lada 111 1998-2004 8V i
21111 1.5L 1998-2001 carburetor
21113 1.5L Lada 111 2000-2004 16V i
21114 1.6L Lada 111 2004 16V, i
2112 hatchback
21120 1.5L Lada 112 2000-2004 16V, i
21122 1.5L Lada 112 2000-2004 8V i
21121 1.6L Lada 112 2004 8V i
21124 1.6L Lada 112 2004 16V i
2113 Samara 3-door hatchback
21130 1.5L Lada Samara 2004 Restyled 21083; 8V i
2114 Samara 5-door hatchback
21140 1.5L Lada Samara 2001 Restyled 21093; 8V i
2115 Samara sedan
21150 1.5L Lada Samara 2001 Restyled 210993; 8V i
1118 Kalina sedan
11170 1.6L Lada Kalina 2004 8V i
1119 Kalina hatchback
11190 1.6L Lada Kalina 2005 16V i
1117 Kalina sation wagon
11170 1.6L Lada Kalina 2006 16V i
2170 Priora sedan
2170? Lada Priora due 2007-2007
2172 Priora hatchback
217?? Lada Priora due 2007-2007


The Oka is a Russian city car designed by AvtoVAZ and sometimes branded as a Lada. This model is built in Russia by SeverstalAvto and SeAZ (the Serpuhov Car Factory), as well as in Azerbaijan by the Gyandzha Auto Plant.

See also

External links