From Russia, With Love: 1986 Lada 2101

It’s some sort of epidemic! It’s amazing how cars from the former Soviet Union have suddenly popped up out of the woodwork. Barn Finder Roger is great at spotting them, so thank you for that Roger. My first thought was that this particular car was from the same seller as the last couple that I’ve written about, but this car is not located in the same place. This 1986 Lada 2101 is located in Miami, Florida, and is being sold with a clean title. So comrades, if you would like to avail yourself of this glorious people’s car, then you will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist.

For the purists among you, I’ve been doing a bit of research on the whole “Lada 2101” model designation, and it isn’t quite right for this particular car. The correct model designation is the VAZ-21013, which was also known as the Lada 21013, or Lada 1200S. Now that we have that bit of non-information out of the way, this Lada looks to be in pretty reasonable condition. The owner says that the car did have a few rust issues, but these have been repaired, and the car has received a recent repaint. The owner doesn’t specify where these rust issues were, but given the fact that while these cars were based on a Fiat design, they were built from significantly heavier steel. This tended to make them less prone to severe rust issues.

Owning a Lada at the height of the Cold War pretty well guaranteed that you weren’t going to find yourself cosseted in the lap of luxury, and this car certainly demonstrates that fact. The wood-grain finish on the dash, a manually operated windshield washer, and a heater/defroster was it. If you look carefully at the dash you will notice that there aren’t even facilities there to fit a radio. The interior is generally pretty reasonable on this car, with only a couple of minor seat tears (which look to be an easy fix) and a cracked wheel rim to deal with. There is some rippling of the material on a couple of the door trims, but it is actually quite possible that these were present on the car from new. Quality control at that time only really lacked two things: quality, and control. And that isn’t actually a joke.

The engine in our Lada is the original 1,198cc 4-cylinder engine, which produces around 59hp. This engine has recently been rebuilt, and the car has also had its original 4-speed manual transmission upgraded to a 5-speed from a later model Lada, which I believe was from a Lada 2105. As with the exterior of the car, the engine bay really does present well. It would be very easy to mock cars like this Lada, but the simple and honest reality about the Ladas from this era is that they are one of the most robust cars that you are ever likely to find, regardless of the country of origin. Russian roads of the era were not renowned for their smooth surfaces, Russian Winters can be cold and snow-ridden, and access to car repair services was also limited. Yet, even today, some 30 years after the last 2101 rolled off the production line, they are still a common sight on Russian roads. This is a testament to their incredible strength and the fact that their mechanical components are hugely over-engineered.

If someone were to blindfold you and place you in a Lada, there is little chance that you are going to be fooled into thinking that you’re in a Cadillac. The best word that I can use to describe Ladas of this era is “agricultural.” But while they may suffer from the least desirable aspects of any agricultural machinery (unrefined, noisy, etc.) they also benefit from the positive aspects, in that they are rugged, reliable, and easy to maintain and repair. This isn’t your average classic car, but with a sale price of $8,000, it is a car that should put a smile on your face and the faces of everyone that you meet.


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  1. CapNemo

    I see a little minor rippling of material on the door panels, but the trim seems to be just fine.

    Like 4
  2. Fla finn

    8K ?? For a piece of crap Lada?? I would spend max 80bucks on this and then take it straight to crusher.

    Like 2
    • Rovinman

      Fla, Why waste your money ?
      Just ignore it and walk away !

      Like 3
  3. UK Paul

    Way overpriced.
    Ok, not an ‘86 but this is far more realistic and in better condition:

  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    The joke in NZ about Ladas (which we got in trade for milk powder shipped to the USSR) is the reason they come with a heated rear window is that it helped keep one’s hands warm when pushing it!

    They come up for sale over here from time-to-time, complete with OEM rust, at pretty much giveaway prices. The Niva 4x4s have a bit of a following and so prices are much higher.

    I think the seller is dreaming, pricewise. Rare in North America doesn’t necessarily mean valuable.

    Like 7
    • John Norris

      A guy walks into a parts store and asks “wing mirror for a Lada?” Guy behind the counter says “sounds like a good trade”

      Like 2
  5. S wear

    I daily drive a 2105 in the uk, it’s comfortable, fairly quick, reliable and good on fuel. I think these are good little cars

    Like 2
  6. Arby

    Looks like the bird in the first pic is walking away.

    Don’t blame him – I would too.

    Like 1
  7. Keith

    Russian junk, worth about $800.00 not 8k.

    Like 1
  8. Kenneth Carney

    If I didn’t know any different, I’d swear that this car was on a beach somewhere
    in Cuba! Judging from the videos I’ve
    watched on YouTube, the streets are full
    of them. The craziest one I’ve seen is the
    yellow and black one made into a stretch
    limo/taxi! For what you’ll get, the price to
    me is too high. Might take it if I could get
    it for less than a grand, if not, I’d pass.

    Like 1
    • George Member

      Or Florida.

      If you go through Facebook Marketplace, you will see a lot of cars that are either still in Cuba, or miraculously, which have suddenly appeared in Hialeah.

      Pretty sure this is a violation of embargo rules, but enjoy!

    • dweezilaz

      Kenneth, there’s a documentary called “Havana Motor Club”. There are lots of Ladas and other Russian cars in it as well as a race between one and a Yugo, IIRC.

      Good movie. The essence of “run what you brung”.

      “Cuban Chrome” is TV series that’s interesting as well. In one or the other [an old mind is a dangerous thing to use] one of the guys DDs a green Lada to get parts for his classic Chevy.

  9. Coventrycat

    Popping up just like Grand Nationals and just as interesting. Why anyone would buy a Soviet made car whose first incarnation was “Fix It Again Tony” bewilders me.Thanks,comrade.

    Like 1
  10. Mitch Ross Member

    You can buy 4 of those on Colombia and squeeze them into a container for $3000, which may be how this one got to FL. That being said, I like Eastern block cars. Lafas less than the in house designed cars, but still, isn’t part of owning old cars the fun of being different?

    Like 2
  11. Vintageant

    Or an ’86 Porsche 944 for about the same $$$……

  12. Homeydodat

    Some Canadian snowbird drove that south to Florida,left it there and flew back home.POS vehicles.

  13. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972 Member

    I sometimes watch Russian car crash videos for amusement and about 90% of the crashes involve a Lada. At the rate the Russians are wrecking them, a clean Lada should be really rare in a couple of weeks!

  14. local_sheriff

    Mitch Ross, according to the ad this one came out of Hungary, of all places, so this one actually has background from a true ex commie state! You also have a good point about being different; after strolling past 12-15 1st gen Mustangs , all being red with black interior on Tork-Thrusts on local cruise-ins , it’s relieving to watch something new…

    This is the first design of the Lada before it received any facelifts, and also the version that is most similar to its Fiat 124 predecessor, making it the most ‘desirable’ model .The 2101 being the absolute basic, ‘everything-costs-more’ version it’s also shocking it has survived, I cannot even remember they looked this good when they were a few years old…

    Personally I couldn’t find myself in such a box.It’s a pristine find though and ugly in a cool way, color makes it look even worse. Hoping it finds a caring owner!

    Like 1
  15. Mark P

    Had a ’75 Fiat 128, basically the same car, loved it. Snow tires on the front confused a lot of people. Can’t find any of those around, not even on eBay.

  16. Sedoy

    Hi everyone.
    I know what Lada is. I drove these cars.
    Yes, these cars are still a lot on the roads of Russia. But this does not mean that they are very reliable.
    Most people in Russia have no other choice. And the new Ladas is even worse than the old ones.
    The Russian government specifically imposed huge import duties so that people could not bring good used cars, for example, from the USA. It is profitable to bring only not very old cars, but they are still very expensive for most people. They call it “support the domestic auto industry.”
    Believe me, people in Russia are forced to ride a Ladas not because of a good life.

    • local_sheriff

      Sedoy; it’s great hearing from someone who has 1st hand experience with such. It surprises me that new Ladas aren’t better than the older, I’d believe after being in production for so long problem areas would be eliminated?!

      Of the very few I knew that drove Lada , none did it for being comfortable or reliable. What they did experience though, was a bottom-line, no-frills vehicle that could be easily REPAIRED,and they learnt it the hard way. I must admit that’s a feature modern-day cars don’t offer…

  17. Del

    Putin bought one of these for his 3rd string girl friend.

    She was last heard of heading East , at low speed ,with Jullian Assange

  18. Paul

    I had a Fiat 127, great little first car – loved the way it drove but rusted away fairly quickly. I looked up to the Fiat 128 as a step up, but the Lada of that era was not on the consideration list – it was cheap and that’s about it. Not my cup of tea. so many other cars I would rather own.

  19. James

    FIAT 124S
    Originally this is build by FIAT, and the actual model is FIAT 124S, build from 1970 to 1974.
    Lada came way after long time when practically this design was out dated, so Soviets bought the copy rights to manufacture this car under LADA for licensing purposes.
    After the success of 124S the Italians build 125P a little bigger and wider.
    Both cars were so much fun to drive.

  20. the one

    Slam it put in a 331 Hemi make it a street strip sleeper

    Like 1
  21. Superdessucke

    Where do you fit the “Bernie Sanders 2020” bumper sticker?

    Like 3

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