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Lasting Lada love

The box-shaped Lada, the Finnish everyman's car of the 1970s, is enjoying a cult revival. Dozens of enthusiastic members recently gathered in Kangasala to race and admire each other's Ladas and share nostalgia for bygone days.

Pyöreälamppuinen Lada ja Tommi Immonen
A Lada lover poses with his collector's item. Image: Yle / Jouni Pilto

The Lada was once the most popular car in Finland because of its low price. It consistently appeared in the top 10 list of new car registrations between 1972 and 1996. Sales dropped off after a peak in 1988 as Finland's economy turned increasingly westward following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Imports ended last year, and the once-ubiquitous cars are now rarely seen on Finnish streets. But Lada enthusiasts swear the automobiles are still great in cold weather, argued Lada club chair Jarno Pajari.

"I bought my first Lada ten years ago, just because I needed a car to go from place A to place B, and a couple of months later there was a first meeting, and I was going, me and my wife went there and we liked the club and so it caught on," Pajari explained.

It's estimated that a well-maintained Lada could fetch more than 2,000 euros on the second-hand market. But none of the members in the club are ready to sell up. They say their love for the car is about more than money.

Lada clubs exist across Europe, including in Hungary, UK, Estonia, the Netherlands and, of course, Russia.

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