This 90-Mile VAZ 2103 Might Be the Best Soviet Car That Ever Survived

The VAZ 2103 came with more power, a more luxurious cabin, and twin headlamps up front. Finding an all-original one today is a dream come true.

YouTubePetrolicious

Dismiss early Ladas as Soviet Fiat copycats all you want, but once you actually jump into a good one, you'll see that the Russian cars were vastly upgraded versions of the original 124s, despite the overall simplification process and their sometimes questionable build quality. And as somebody who once drove a bone stock 1200s from Budapest, Hungary through Yerevan, Armenia to Kutaisi, Georgia, I can tell you that despite having a smooth engine and a great four-speed gearbox at my disposal, I wished I had a 1500.

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FlickrJohn Lloyd

The VAZ-2103 (1500 to the imperialists) was the improved, more powerful version of the original Lada, featuring a 75-horsepower 1452 cc engine, new light designs all around, a vacuum brake booster with self-adjusting rear drums, and a more luxurious interior with wood trim, tachometer, oil pressure gauge and a clock.

Back during the Soviet times, not everybody could have a new one. Now, finding one in brand-new condition is an even greater challenge. But Cezar Botnari got lucky. A garage in Moldova hid a 1975 2103, with 90 miles on the clock, stored there since 1977. Talk about a keeper.

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