Sep 13, 2023 | History

Old Lada Stories

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We see lots of different interesting things and meet some unique people when we travel to do family research in the villages of Ukraine. This car was seen in Ostrozhets of Rivne Oblast this summer and it attracted my attention for several reasons.

Lada 22
Lada 11

The “tuning” is very special, as you can see.

This model is part of my childhood. My grandparents who lived in Lviv oblast also owned it. Some of the grandfather’s approach to driving was quite unusual. I think we can call it a “start-stop system” today. He used to switch off the engine on the way down the hill to save fuel and he made me do it too. I used to come to spend summer vacations with them and learn to drive. 

It was important to put the key into a certain position not to block the driving wheel when going down the hill. The brakes were not too good. The door did not lock well either. I remember the feeling of the car almost flying, rattling, with its engine off, the sound of the hot summer wind from the open window in my ears, and the smell of the harvested wheat.

Lada 33
Lada 66

This car has also reminded me of a story I heard from our US customer whom we organized a heritage tour of Ukraine for a few years ago. It was one of his many visits as he also came to see his ancestral village at the time of the Cold War. He told me that his driver was a KGB agent at that time. He drove a Lada as you can see in these photos. He stopped in every bigger town on the way to make a call to his office and report on developments. He never leaned back on his seat when driving because he had a gun in his belt at the back.

Lada 44
Lada 55

Life is different but some old Ladas can still be seen on the streets. They carry potatoes, not tourists.

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Andriy Dorosh