1989 Lada Riva 1300 1.3 double carburettor from Croatia


An old, but great car -- very cheap


Gasoline pump leaked oil, I changed it myself. I used the one from my other Lada (for parts). The cost? Only time.

The cooler is leaking, but I'm too lazy to change it.

I made a service repair - changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, gasoline filter - me and a friend - total cost was under 50€.

And also a mechanic changed the belts and re-calibrated the valves, and fixed a little problem with front brakes. It cost around 80-90€.

My e-mail is walbandon(at)hotmail.com and I'm from Croatia.

General Comments:

The car is great, its only weak point is fuel consumption, around 10-13l per 100km, but I solved that by installing LPG - natural gas.

It is very strong, reliable, comfortable, spacious, not so fast, but I can say strong enough to pull or push another car sideways :)

I'm very pleased with the car, and I'm planning to pimp it a little; new paint, work on the engine or replace it with a stronger one.

I already installed a music system in it.

I love this car, I'm 19.5 years old, and I've driven Ladas for 1.5 years now, but my father has never had another make of car, he has owned around 6 Ladas from 1985. So practically I grew up in Ladas :)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th February, 2006

1st Feb 2007, 15:05

Yes I know what it's like growing up in Ladas. My folks had a couple and they gave one to me to drive. I love em.

I had a 1600 and it was quite good. I used to put the front against something and smoke out the tires (I was 14!)

1989 Lada Riva 1.5 petrol from UK and Ireland


Don't even think of getting one- truly dreadful!


A lot.

Needed new clutch, new radiator, new front seat. There is such a lot of rust- five years old and it is rotten. Paintwork is poor. There are at least a hundred faults with the engine and once all the lights failed.

General Comments:

I bought this car at pleased owners' recommendations. They all said how good and how cheap it was. It was HORRIBLE!!!

The interior is dreadful- very plasticky and everything comes off in your hand. the design I understand is from the Sixties which means it is rather cramped inside. The car is no fun to be in at all.

The best thing about it is its security. nobody will nick it. Let's face it, this car has a serious image problem, and having owned one I can see why. It is very unreliable and in general not a nice car at all.

The performance is sluggish- I am also scared to go fast in it because it is so unpredictable!! The emissions are not very good either.

In 1998 another car ploughed into the back of it, but I didn't mind as by then I hated the damn thing. I preferred the Allegro I had before it, and that says a lot!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th May, 2002

16th Dec 2004, 09:32

I must admit I too owned an allegro, and I prefer the lada I have now in every way, plus the lada is beautiful compared to the aggro. and more reliable.

1989 Lada Riva Estate 1.5 from UK and Ireland


A useful learning experience for those keen on roadside mechanics


Radiator fan switch stopped working (as did the replacement) leading to constant overheating.

Faulty valve on the interior heater matrix leaked radiator coolant into the passenger compartment - adding to the overheating problems.

When the heater valve was finally replaced, the temperature regulator handle on the dashboard snapped off and was never replaced.

Gasket seal between the engine cylinder head and the exhaust manifold blew.

The relay behind the dashboard which supplies power to the ignition circuit was mounted on its side. Consequently it did not work well, and frequently delayed the ignition coming on for up to a minute after turning the key.

The car was run with tubes inside tubeless tyres (no possibility of finding correct tubular tyres) leading to frequent blow outs as the inner tubes regularly cut themselves to shreds.

Petrol cap allowed water into the tank, resulting in the carburetter float bowl regularly filling with water, thus no carburetter idling.

Fuel pump failed.

Headlight wipers and associated cleaning jets (possibly items added by UK importers and not original spec?) worked only sporadically. When they did, they threw cleaning liquid everywhere but over the headlights, usually over astonished passers-by.

Rear windscreen wiper motor and spray jet worked only intermittently.

Bottoms of both front passenger doors fell off as a result of rust.

Brake fluid boiled when going down a severe mountain pass (probably my fault for not changing the fluid regularly enough).

General Comments:

The front seats of UK-spec Ladas were cloth, and surprisingly comfortable over long continental journeys. The same cannot be said for the back seat, which was too upright and angular for real comfort. However, my elderly parents appreciated it, because they found the seats easy to get in and out of.

The Lada's petrol and oil consumption increased appreciably at cruising, ie motorway speeds, making it a thirsty option for long distance work.

The Lada needed more, and more frequent servicing than its Western European rivals. Some of the advantages of the cheap purchase price were offset by garage bills.

Despite the Lada's image as a cheap car, the price of spares was not noticeably cheaper than those for basic level Western European cars, and the parts were usually less reliable.

During the time I owned the Lada, UK dealerships were closing down fast. It became an increasing problem to find spares - at any price. Things seemed no better in France and Belgium (where the car also had its share of breakdowns).

The Lada gave me the perfect excuse for being late for anything and everything - everyone expected it to break down on the way.

People treated the Lada as a joke, and were always keen to hear stories about the latest breakdown. It was a great ice-breaker at parties.

Owning a Lada taught me a lot about how to deal with, and ultimately to avoid, roadside breakdowns, and in particular how to keep the juice running through electrical circuits.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 21st August, 2001

25th Mar 2005, 23:47

Major problem was gearbox failure. Bearing end plate could never have been correctly tightened. Went from 5 gears to 4 and finally to three. In the process punched a hole in the gearbox cast iron casing. Hammered a stick in the hole (not recommended), drilled a 2-inch hole in the body to access oil filler plug. Fortunately a MOT failure was available to donate a gearbox, but pulling the lump and switching the gearbox is time consuming. If you want to borrow a set of jumper leads, ask a Lada driver.

Any rubber or nylon part is suspect, so rad hoses, brake hoses, brake rubbers, etc. are candidates for replacement. Like a UK car from the 1960's. Carried weight well. Nice panhard rod rear suspension, but dated. Overall, HOS* best describes it.

* Heap of s**t.

16th Aug 2006, 16:10

The brake fluid issue is probably not the fault of the car, or it not being changed enough. When going down long grade, it's best to put the car in a lower gear and use the engine compression to keep the car at a steady speed.

1989 Lada Riva 2107 1.3 petrol from Serbia


Much more than you expected!


Hydraulic fluids leakage due to ten year old rubber sealing.

General Comments:

I bought this car from a man who kept it in a garage for ten years.

Cheapest car to maintain ever made!

Fill up gas, check oil regularly and drive anywhere.

During winter it behaves like any rear wheel drive car, mount winter-tires!

Poor ventilation, but heating for Siberia!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th August, 2001

19th Dec 2009, 09:26

I sold this very Lada in 2005 with 116000 km on the clock in almost perfect condition, except some rust on front wings, and made a mistake - bought a BMW E30, a piece of junk which emptied my vallet in few months. Since then I've owned Opel Corsa and Alfa Romeo 156, but my Lada 21072 - Riva was the cheapest to maintain and the most reliable car I've ever had.