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What is it?

It’s Lada’s UK model lineup for 1980. Some 37 years ago, the Russian manufacturer offered two sedans, a wagon, and an offroad vehicle to its British customers, promising “tough cars” and “tame prices.”

When and where was it made?

The Riva sedan and estate, partly based on the Fiat 124 Sedan from 1966, was probably the most successful export model for the automaker. During its lifetime, it wore several different names, including Riva, Signet, 2107/2101, Classic, and others. A total of 18.5 million examples were built and delivered since 1969.

As for the Niva, also called the 4x4 or 2121 in different countries, it debuted in 1977 for the Soviet Russian market, and a year later in Paris for the Western Europe. In addition to Tolyatti, Russia, the Niva was manufactured in many countries over the world, including Uruguay, Colombia, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, and Ecuador. It’s still in production.

Gallery: Soviet Cars Were Weird: Lada Classic series


Why is it awesome?

Lada’s lineup in the 1980 was awesome for three simple reasons. It was competitively priced, very reliable, and featured unpretentious functionality. Just like this ad explains, all cars were made by Russian standards, which mean they had “reinforced suspension and underbody corrosion protection.” Each Lada “was built to survive, to take on loads, and the roughest of roads.”

Lada models from the past are awesome for one more reason. “They don't make 'em like they used to” – and that’s true. Not only Ladas, but basically all modern vehicles are made to last between five and ten years. Ladas were made to last for decades.

What’s so special about this ad?

We like the simple way the advertising team of Lada UK managed to promote all the core characteristics of its models. Also, the final slogan “Tough Cars. Tame Prices” strongly reminds of Ford’s “Built Tough” moto. This entertaining classic video commercial was aired on TV and in cinemas in the first months of 1980.

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Gallery: Lada Niva

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