1989 Lada 2104 1.3 from Bulgaria
Wiring harness of the headlights rotted away.
Rusty fenders, doors and sills.
Clutch "sticking", making changing gears tricky. Goes away, after the car has been driven for a while.
Various hoses - for petrol, coolant, air perished with time.
Heater controls stuck, always blows slightly warm air.
Levers to fold the rear seat broken.
Ignition distributors crack.
Rear window heater element.
My grandfather had bought one new and I had the misfortune of having to be driven in it throughout my childhood, and then drive it on more than one occasion.
An Italian design from the 70s, adapted to Russian conditions. Made poorly from materials of inconsistent quality.
Engine: The engine is a 1.3 carburetor 4-cylinder, with some 60-ish horsepower, driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual gearbox. The engine is noisy at speed in an unpleasant way, not that you would be brave enough to drive the car quickly. 8 valves driven through a timing chain and an overhead camshaft, so little maintenance there. It lacks torque and drinks fuel like a thirsty camel. The mechanical fuel pump and the ignition distributor are all that can go wrong on the engine. And they do. Easy to work on, and mechanically simple to the point that no mechanic wants to work on it anymore. They cannot charge the price they normally do for modern cars.
Gearbox: The gearbox is clunky and imprecise. Reverse is ridiculously tricky to get in. Good thing it is just a 4-speed, so you don't need to change that often.
Suspension: Soft and simple. Ball-joints at the front and shock absorbers and springs all-round brake regularly. Comfortable on dirt roads, because of its high clearance, but dangerous on the open road. I would consider speeds of over 90 km/h reckless driving.
Interior: A sea of beige, brown and black fake leather. As mentioned in another review, the seats are soft, springy and spongy. It is fun for kids, but a pain in the neck, butt, waist and back for everyone else on anything other than a short trip. In corners, no side support is provided, one has to hold to the handles on the roof. The fake leather mostly holds fine for a few years and smells funny.
Driving position: By far the worst thing about the car. The pedals and steering wheel are offset to the right to the point where having both hands on the steering wheel feels excruciating after a while. My grandfather always drove it with the right hand on the wheel, and left hand outside the window, holding a cigarette. The gas pedal cannot be depressed completely, as it hits the carpeting of the gearbox tunnel. The seat lacks any sort of support you can think of - lumbar, side, back, you name it.
Equipment: Basically things you need to survive, but nothing more.
A radio was not available from the factory, needed to be retrofitted. Heating, windscreen wipers, a glovebox and a folding rear seat constitute the standard equipment. None of them up to any modern standard, or, in fact, even to 80s' standards. The glovebox would rattle all the time, the heating controls would constantly get stuck, to the point we did not care to repair them anymore, and the windscreen wipers are a joke and so are the headlights.
The trunk cover is made up from pine wood planks of different sizes, cushioned and upholstered in fake brown leather. One needs to lay them down in a certain order, so they fit properly. This one also had the optional headlight wipers and cleaning nozzles. My grandfather had them stowed away, so they don't get stolen.
Purchasing this vehicle is justified in two cases:
- You grew up with one and want to feel nostalgic and contemplate on the good old times.
- You are a certified lunatic.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 24th April, 2018