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13 Dec, 2008 08:53

A lotta Lada love

What's your favorite car? You can't go wrong with a Mercedes, right? Russians living in Israel share this view, but they have a very different ‘Mercedes’ in mind.

Motorists who grew up in the Soviet Union remember the days when Russian Volgas and Ladas ruled the roads.

Andy Yefimovitch, who makes his living test-driving cars and writing about them, has dreamt about driving a 'Russian Mercedes' or Volga since he was young and never imagined he would get the opportunity in Israel.

It was one of my childhood dreams to drive one of these,” says Andy as he struggles with the gear box.

When the Volga was first produced in 1970, and over the next 16 years, more than 1.5 million were made with some even being exported to the west.

For most, getting a Volga was impossible as they were reserved for 'important' people.

While most Russians didn't get to drive them, the sound and smell of these machines is enough to bring on a bout of nostalgia.

The sound, the sound it makes, brings back memories from my childhood because every single taxi in the Soviet Union was a Volga and even the sound the sound of the turn brings me back,” Yefimovich says.

While the Lada has become an object of ridicule and a symbol of unreliability, car collector Sebastian Floka has a different take. His prize-winning Lada is his passion.

The Lada, created by VAZ , was a Russian-built car that is really the 'Zhiguli', but was marketed with the LADA name because 'Zhiguli' carried a negative meaning in many places .

Among the countries where it was marketed and sold are Brazil, Canada, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Ecuador, Finland, Costa Rica, Singapore and Trinidad and Tobago.

Due to its simple design and easy access, it quickly became a DIY favorite. Today, VAZ markets the Lada brand in Russia.

Describing his own prized model, Floka says: “this is the first model the VAZ factory produced.

He says when the original owner emigrated to Israel he took the car with him.

He drove her a little bit but preferred a western car. I bought it from him and for seven years now I have been driving my Lada," Floka said.

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