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The AvtoVAZ Lada Riva. A car built on the Soviet Union’s need for a cheap, reliable form of transportation for the millions of workers housed in the Communist state.
Based loosely on the Fiat 124 from the 1960s, the Lada Riva was introduced in 1980 and production officially ended in 2012. Not an awful lot changed in their 32 year run!
They were slow, heavy and basic but incredibly tough and cheap! Although technologically decades behind domestic cars such as the Sierra, the Lada proved to be popular in Britain thanks to their low price point and durability. Over 50,000 were sold!
Today, they are quite rare. Emissions controls were tightened in the late 1980s and many were scrapped or exported to ex-Soviet countries after the collapse of the Berlin Wall for spares. There is a little niche market for them with enthusiasts keeping them running, in retrospect I actually think they have a certain charm and a historical significance. However, generally they are viewed as rubbish, communist built machines that were dated before they were built.
The little, boxy, soviet machine would be the star of CCORC’s Ladageddon. Over 30 of the little saloons turned up to meet their demise along with a custom made hearse.
This would be my first race meet at CCORC! It’s based in a hall in a village near Chelmsford called Hatfield Peveral. It’s a really nice little hall with a bar close by for those who weren’t driving (big cars).
My Lada was pretty simple, half red and half white… or half unpainted as the state demanded I give the other half of my red tin of paint to the people, with some basic Russian font graphics.
I wasn’t the only one to use this colour scheme. There were two more red and white cars, thankfully their colours were the reverse of mine!
A lot of people, including Big Dave here, left in a sun visor to add a bit of rigidity the the a-pillar. This turned out to be a good idea as the pillars were the weak points of these Lada shells.
Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one to include that sun strip.
Having the a-pillar back from another car meant that Koonta’s hearse didn’t have too much of an issue with pillar breakages. It did get snapped later in the day thanks to a couple of heavy head ons.
You’ll notice that a lot of the guys have really fancy stickers! They are cut and printed by a company called K-Tech Signs. They have a group on Facebook which you can find here: Ktech Signs
Rob Barnard who I’ve mentioned before from Brentwood also makes fantastic shells. His Lada looked amazing with the airbrushed signage but if he left anymore window in his driver wouldn’t have been able to see out the front or back!
The support class for the day was 1300 stock cars. I’m using a bit of an unusual shell for 1300s at the moment; an Austin 1100 which I’ve badged up as an MG 1300. Thankfully, no one so far has minded! I think it looks pretty cool too even if I do say so myself.
The two together in the pits:
In the racing, the 1300 didn’t do very well. The motor in it is on the way out and it was running very slowly and was getting very hot. I tried my best to trundle round though.
In the first race the pinion spun itself loose from the motor. The second race a hard hit shunted the motor forward and the pinion lost 99% of it’s contact with the spur gear. Third race the handset and receiver came unbound. I was obviously put into the lowest (D) final of which I made it round about 10 laps before a wheel fell off (my own fault I didn’t check the wheel nuts).
So not great for the 1300 but the banger went considerably better!
The first race was a DNF after a pinion came loose. 2nd and 3rd race I finished in 8th out of a 16 car field which qualified me for the “A” (top) final which again consisted of 16 cars.
I know I didn’t place particularly highly in the A final but I was pleased to be there considering I had a DNF result in the heats. I can’t recommend that little Kamtec banger kit (Which you can buy here: SWB Banger) it’s been superb straight out the box!
The little Lada sadly won’t live to fight another day. All 3 pillars snapped in the passenger side and the C pillar snapped on the drivers side. When you take the shell off of the car it sort of goes all floppy.
All in all, I had a big smile on the face the whole time. Just like Brentwood, I highly recommend CCORC. If you go to one but not the other then I also suggest you you give the other club a go as both are awesome in their own way and both seem to have really friendly, approachable members.
Big thanks to Bob for putting in this event and for Kamtec for replicating this funny little car for us all to smash up!
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By Richard Francis