1989 Lada 2104 1.3 carb
No-nonsense space (at a medium pace)
The primary fault was the clutch, needing replacement at less than 50k km. This seems to be a common problem with the Lada station wagon. But then again, they are generally driven by octogenarians or those with a similar style of driving, which tends to contribute to this problem.
The exhaust developed a hole in the pot around 52k km.
The car would always start when cold, but did not like to idle as such. So the choke had to be kept at half-mast, or the car would stall.
Body rust is beginning to develop, but not in full bloom.
The pistons to support the trunk failed, causing the hatch/trunk to descend upon the unsuspecting forehead. Soon solved by propping the jack between the body and the hatch.
No other technical problems.
While slow, bulky and awkward, the car is endearing. I miss it terribly (at the time, could not afford the repairs - I still regret not finding the cash to do so).
The seats are springy and spongy. My 10 and 8 year-old daughters loved it, but can get irritating on longer trips. But pleasant and amusing otherwise.
Dash/instruments are what one expects from a Lada. No frills (anywhere). Part of the charm.
Defrost absolutely screamed (to daughter's great amusement).
Drives like a truck. Drinks fuel heavily.
Repairs are ridiculously easy, with the engine mounted in a cavernous space so everything can be easily reached. Changing plugs or air/oil/petrol filters is heap and easy. Little to maintain, little to go wrong.
As long as one is not concerned with one's image in the eyes of others - or at least does not need to express oneself with one's car (for this car expresses nothing but a resolute apathy for style), this is a fine car to own. Beware of the (costly) clutch. All of these models seem to need a replacement (500 euros) by the time they reach 70k km (+/- 45k miles).
Fuel economy poor (not sure about later injection models: 1300 carb. model seems weak for the weight of Russian steel; have not driven the 1700 injection model), but maintenance (and price) is cheap.
If you need a station wagon on a budget, and can deal with the idiosyncrasies, do buy one. But budget a new clutch into the deal, because it will fail you sooner rather than later.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th February, 2004