Friday, 10 June 2011

Communist cars


Ironmistress said...

Here is a Fascist car. This thingy is even today known in Finland as "Adolf's Revenge".

Lada was once plentiful on Finnish roads. It was a typical Communist achievement: cheap, clumsy, ugly, made from inferior materials with gross tolerances and awful to use. Yet anyone with a spanner would be able to maintain and fix one, it was guaranteed to start and work even at Siberian freezes and it was a true heaven's gift for all aspiring hardware geeks. If you had access to a metal lathe and a milling machine, the engine, transmission and steering provided endless possibilities to a rigger wishing to void the warranty for
improved performance. Some hardware hackers even rigged turbosuperchargers on Ladas. Lada earned nicknames like "Kolkhoz-Porsche", "Stalin's Revenge" and "Eastern Express".

One of the reason why Finns are well represented amongst the motor sports is Lada - a cheap, simple, trivial, easily fixed and badly behaving car. If you learn to handle a Lada on gravel roads and snow, you basically can master any car after that. Step upwards to a better behaving and performing cars is easy. Ladas are even today well represented in Jokamies ("Everyman") rally class.

It is sad today's cars are like TV dinners - they are ready-made integrated products, and you really cannot hack and rig them without breaking them.

Sergej said...

I once googled "moskvich racing". Yes, this is apparently a thing. Apart from it being a bit hard to tell when all the contestants were supposed to start moving, I had the distinct impression that there were rules about what percentage of a car (by mass) needed to actually make it over the finish line for it to be considered to have gone over. The parental units, who spent more of their lives in the Workers' Paradise, bought a Lexus when they retired. They do not long for the old days (in this regard among many others).

Ironmistress said...

Moskvich, brr! That thingy still sends down shivers. While Lada was the car which really finally automobilized Finland, owning a Moskvich was a sign of a hard-core Communist. Lada was a sign of do-it-yourself spirit; Moskvich was an ideology on itself. Moskvich was, simply put, a piece of crap. Unlike Lada, it wasn't robust, it was unreliable and had an incredibly inefficient engine which polluted badly.

And unlike Lada, which was a rigger's goldmine, Moskvich really couldn't be rigged or tuned. The usual question was: "Why buy a new Moskvich as you can get a good used Volvo at the same price?"

Back in the 1970s, there were basically four types of cars in Finland: Lada, Toyota Corolla, Saab 99 and Volkswagen Beetle. All those are still remembered affectionately. But nobody wants to remember such lemons as Simca, Wartburg or Moskvich anymore.

Wesley said...

James and Jeremy might not give away too much on the technical specifications of the communist cars, but they sure do make an enjoyable video while trashing them! Good to see two gents who so enjoy their work. David, thanks for this gem!

Ironmistress said...

There was one Communist car not discussed about yet, and it was Volga.

Volga had the nickname of "flying coffin" in Finland. That contraption had an oversized engine and like Lada, was a DIY's wet dream. Unfortunately, it had extremely unreliable brakes and steering system. It had far more power that could really be safely handled with its controls. [Just think about a 5.6 litre V8 engine on a Volvo 242.]

Volga was popular in Finland as a taxicab in the 1960s and 1970s. As the taxi drivers then renewed their cars into Volvos, Mercedeses and Toyota Crowns, a lot of the Volgas entered in the second hand markets. Volga was quirky to drive, and required experience. Unfortunately the combination of young driver, Volga and alcohol was often lethal.

Imports of Volga in Finland ceased in 1983. The Finnish State Car Inspection Bureau had informed the GAZ factory of the unsafeness of the design. GAZ refused to change it, so Car Inspection Bureau informed the importer, Konela-Auto that none of the Volgas will anymore pass the inspection. Konela began to import Lancia instead.