Soviet Cars

Ladas were the butt of many jokes, when they were imported to Britain in the seventies and eighties. Most disappeared from UK roads after the Soviet break up, as Russians and others from the former Soviet Union were intent on buying them up.

What do you call a convertible Lada with twin exhausts?

A wheelbarrow

In the early seventies my father had a Moskvitch 427 for a year, he exchanged it shortly after the rear passenger door came open as we were travelling along…we almost lost my sister…but she clung to the back of the front seat for sufficient time to allow my father to stop. I don’t have a photo of his Moskvitch, which was a tan coloured estate with a vinyl roof.

Rusty but running Moskvitch 427

Rusty but running Moskvitch 427

Moving to Tbilisi, I regularly see Ladas and Volgas and less commonly Izh, Moskvitches, Zils and Zaporozhets.

GAZ Chaila M14

GAZ Chaika M14

This Chaika was parked near us for months and then one day it disappeared never to return.



GAZ 69

GAZ 69

Lada with Armenian plates

Lada with Armenian plates and Ford badge in grille

Lada Estate

Lada Estate

Walking to the metro takes about 15 minutes and I see at least half a dozen Ladas. The other common Soviet car here is the Volga, these I only knew of from books in England but here they are plentiful.

GAZ Volga 24

GAZ Volga 24

AS026 (2)

GAZ Volga 21

I remember in the Observer’s Book Of Automobiles I had as a child the last car was a Ukranian built Zaporozhets 968M, which closely resembled an NSU Prinz. I had never seen one until I arrived in Georgia, it is not common here but there are a few still about.



The only Soviet cars I actually own are in 1:43 scale.

Models of cars made in USSR

Models of cars made in USSR


  1. There are still thousands of these Russian cars, held together by good will and spewing out smog in Cuba. And, yes, in a desperate situation we did accept a taxi ride in one. A memorable moment.

    1. The mechanics are quite basic, so easy for a DIY motorist unlike modern technologically advance cars. They also come into their own bouncing along the ruts of the bad roads here trying to digest low octane fuel.

    1. Toyota is the best selling new brand followed by Hyundai and Kia. Many cars are imported secondhand there are lots of German cars (BMW, Mercedes and Opel), some in very rough states…Georgians are “showy” they would prefer a BMW or Mercedes no matter how tatty to a Nissan or Renault in much better condition.

    1. Thanks, glad you found it interesting. If you are interested in Soviet Cars there is a Facebook Group “Eastern bloc cars” which has lots of pictures and information.

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