Saturday 05 December 2009
AvtoVAZ (RTS:AVAZ) (Russian: АвтоВАЗ) is a Russian automobile manufacturer, also known as VAZ, Volzhsky Avtomobilny 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 is 25% owned by French giant Renault. It produces nearly one million cars a year, including the Kalina, Lada 110 and the Niva off-road vehicle. However, the original Fiat 124-based vehicle, the VAZ-2101 and its derivatives, remain the models most associated with its Lada brand. The VAZ factory is one of the biggest in the world, with 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 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 town, Tolyatti, named after the Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti, 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 in order 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 domestic 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 the introduction of a deluxe version of the sedan, VAZ-2103, which was based on Fiat 124 Speciale and featured a new 1.5 L 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.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1200 cc
- horsepower: 58 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 142 km/h