After 41 years of sturdy service, Lada's iconic Classic compact sedan is set to become history.
The first Classic, then called the 2101, rolled off the line on April 22 1970 when Russia's biggest automaker, AvtoVAZ, opened a car factory in Togliatti, 1,000km southeast of Moscow. The 2101 was based on the Fiat 124.
The model code today is 2107, but Lada calls it simply the Classic and the car is substantially unchanged from the 2101.
When I visited the Togliatti plant last week and discovered that the car will go out of production at the end of the year, I felt sad.
So let me give you some figures which make the Classic a truly legendary model, at least by Russia's standards:
- 16.8 million units have been built.
- About two out of every three Ladas produced were Classic models.
The Classic was scheduled to die at the end of 2009 when sales began fading, but the Russian government scrappage program introduced in March 2010 gave it a new lease of life. With a scrappage bonus, buyers could snap a Classic for about 3,900 euros, instead of 5,200 euros.
Helped by the incentive, Classic sales last year doubled to 136,006, making it Russia best-selling car by far. In the first half of this year, sales grew 35 percent to 69,500.
But the scrapping program ended in May, heralding the end for the Classic.
Ciao bella! But never say never when the Lada Classic is involved.