Lada Samara

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The Lada Samara is a small family car produced by Soviet/Russian vehicle manufacturer AvtoVAZ under the Lada brand since 1984. The model name Samara originally was used only for exported models, in Russia the same model was called Sputnik ("fellow traveler", "satellite") until 1991, when the sedan version of the Samara entered in production, using the export name. It was the first front-wheel drive serial car built in the Soviet Union after the LuAZ-969V.[1] The Samara had been modified and restyled during the years of production before it was finally discontinued in December 2013.

Lada Samara
Lada Samara 1500 1993 (15799320486).jpg
1993 Lada Samara 1500
Manufacturer AvtoVAZ
Also called Bohse Safari (Convertible, West Germany)
Bognor Sagona (Uruguay)
Lada Carlota (Belgium)
Lada Cevaro (Australia)
Lada Diva (Belgium)
Lada EuroSamara
Lada Forma (Sedan)
Lada Natasha (Convertible)
Lada Sable (Australia)
Lada Sagona (Sedan)
Lada Samara
Lada Samara Baltic
Lada Samara Fun (Convertible, West Germany)
Lada Sputnik
Lada Tarzan (Compact SUV)
Lada Volante (Australia)
VAZ 2108 (1984–2003)
VAZ 2109 (1987–2011)
VAZ 21099 (1990–2011)
Production 1984–2013
Assembly Dörpen, West Germany (Bohse Automobilbau)
Montevideo, Uruguay (Bognor)
Syzran, Russia (RosLada)
Togliatti, Russia (AvtoVAZ)
Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan (Azia Avto)[2]
Uusikaupunki, Finland (Valmet Automotive)
Zaporizhia, Ukraine (AvtoZAZ)[3]
Body and chassis
Class Small family car
Body style 2 Door Convertible
3 Door Hatchback
5 Door Hatchback
4 Door Sedan
2 Door Panel Van
3 Door Compact SUV
5 Door Compact SUV
Layout FF layout
Wheelbase 2,460 mm (96.9 in)[4]
Length 4,005 mm (157.7 in)[4]
Width 1,650 mm (65.0 in)[4]
Height 1,335 mm (52.6 in)[4]


VAZ 2108 Samara (3-door)

The Samara was to build on the success of the traditional Fiat 124-based range, by providing a car that combined a robust build and ease of maintenance with a modern style. It was produced in various three, four and five door designs with 1.1, 1.3 and 1.5 litre petrol engines. Lada had hoped that the Samara would enable it to compete for sales in the mainstream European car market. It was the second autonomous design from AvtoVAZ (the first was the Niva SUV), and the first Lada car not based on the Fiat derived mechanicals.


Lada Samara 1500S four-door saloon

VAZ had made their first front-wheel drive prototype, the VAZ 1101, in the early 1970s. The engine from the Fiat 127 was used. Further development of this project led to the 900 cc (55 cu in) Ladoga three-door hatchback prototype in 1976.[5][6] The decision to build the Samara was taken 16 September 1978, the intention being to build a car with strong potential sales in Western European export markets.[6] Proposals for a distinctive saloon, four-door, and both three- and five-door hatchback were considered; it was decided instead the saloon should share the three-door hatchback's sheetmetal forward the C-pillar.[6] (Design work on the four-door went toward the VAZ-2110. instead.[6]) During its development, VAZ designers paid careful attention to the contemporary Renault 9, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Escort Mark III, Opel Kadett, and Volvo 340, which would be the new VAZ-2108's main competitors.[7] Front suspension was MacPherson struts, rear by torsion bar.[8] It also had rack and pinion steering, another Soviet first.[9]

On December 31, 1979, the first VAZ-2108 prototype was completed.[10] It strongly resembled the earlier Ladoga, and the VAZ-1106 saloon.[6] While named Sputnik at home, it was more commonly known as the "Eight" after the last digit in the model code.[8] The export version was named after the Samara River, a tributary to the Volga.[11] The first cars left the production line on 18 December 1984.[8] These, the three-door hatchbacks (the only model available at first), were powered by a belt-driven SOHC 1,288 cc (78.6 cu in) inline-four, and were fitted with a four-speed gearbox.[8] The three-door was joined by a five-door, and by models with 1,099 cc (67.1 cu in) (a destroked version of the 1288) or 1,499 cc (91.5 cu in) (a bored-out 1288) engines.[9] (The head was developed in co-operation with Porsche, though most Western observers assumed Porsche's involvement went beyond just engines,[12] and the carburetors in connection with Solex.[8])

Rear view of the VAZ 21099 (Lada Sagona) four-door saloon

In 1987, the model range was joined by the 21083, with a 71 hp (53 kW; 72 PS) 1,499 cc (91.5 cu in) engine and five-speed gearbox, and the 21081, with a 53 hp (40 kW; 54 PS) 1,099 cc (67.1 cu in).[13] The 1099 was an export-only variant.[13] Top speeds were 87 mph (140 km/h) (1099), 92 mph (148 km/h) (1288) and 97 mph (156 km/h) (1499); fuel economy was 7.9 L/100 km (36 mpg-imp; 30 mpg-US) (1099), 9.3 L/100 km (30 mpg-imp; 25 mpg-US) (1288), or 9.5 L/100 km (30 mpg-imp; 25 mpg-US) (1499).[14] VAZ also debuted the 2109 five-door hatchback that year, also available with the 1,099 cc (67.1 cu in), 1,288 cc (78.6 cu in), and 1,499 cc (91.5 cu in).[15] In 1989, the 21099 saloon followed, which had a new bonnet, grille, wings, and 200 mm (7.9 in)-longer rear overhang, as well as an improved dashboard.[15] The 21099's front-end styling was adopted on the 2109 in 1992 and the 2108 in 1994, as well.[15]

A number of other minor alterations followed, including fuel injected engines to meet emissions regulations in export markets. On the earlier Samaras the front clip had been a separate piece, surrounding the headlights. On the sedan version, the fenders go all the way up to the headlights and the lip of the bonnet dips between the headlights and meets the slimmer grille. Full production of the 21099 began in December 1990, with models 210993 (1288), 21099 (1499).[15] The saloon, intended as a premium model compared to the hatchback, was given a distinctive branding in some export markets: Diva (Belgium), Sagona (France), Forma (Germany).[15] Belgium also offered a locally-built convertible.[16] The 1.1 and 1.3 were eventually taken out of production, having already been withdrawn from export markets.[15]

Special models

A Wankel engined Samara three-door hatchback, the 2108-91,[17] powered by a two-rotor VAZ-415 (with two 654 cc (39.9 cu in) rotors) was sold in Russia only, and only in very small numbers. With five-speed gearbox, it was priced at a staggering 56,000 rubles.[17] Due to severe reliability problems, this remained rare, most commonly bought by police and other agencies to use as a pursuit vehicle, for which its 124 mph (200 km/h) top speed was ideal; it was capable of 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) in eight seconds.[17] The subsequent 2109-91 five-door hatchback had the same VAZ-415 and gearbox.[17]

Lada Samara T3
Lada Tarzan (VAZ 210934)

There were also a rear-engined Samara 4x4 rally car,[18] also known as the NAMI 0290, built for the 1985 Soyuz Rally; it had permanent four-wheel drive and a 150 hp (110 kW; 150 PS) 1,568 cc (95.7 cu in) Zhiguli-based engine, over the rear axle.[19] It was nicknamed Appelsin ("orange", for its paint), and used ZAZ-1102 doors (though the body was mostly fiberglass, weighing only 960 kg (2,120 lb)) and, surprisingly, factory Samara wheels.[20]

The 1987 mid-engined Samara-EVA had a turbocharged 16-valve 1,860 cc (114 cu in) engine (with electronic fuel injection) of 300 hp (220 kW; 300 PS); a naturally-aspirated version produced 160 hp (120 kW; 160 PS).[21] The only thing left untouched was the original Zhuguli 2106 block.[17]

An even more powerful Samara S-Proto appeared in 1989, putting out 350 hp (260 kW; 350 PS).[17] Most notably, the Samara T3 came seventh in the 1990 Paris-Dakar Rally and fifth in 1991, piloted by none other than Jacky Ickx. The T3, however, didn't contain many Samara parts, using the Porsche 959's four-wheel drive system and a 3.6-litre Porsche flat-six.[16] It was developed by French concessionaire Lada-Poch together with NAMI and the Tupolev aircraft factory.[16] In the mid 1980s Lada developed its first ever convertible car on its own, then actually entering production and quickly exported to most European countries, called the Lada Natasha Cabriolet, a four-seater convertible that was based on the popular Samara 1300/1500 models with a manual opening and closing canvas roof. Also in some European car markets the LADA Niva 4X4 1600 cc engine was also available for both the Lada Natasha and Lada Samara cars during the 1990s.


1992 Lada Samara Cabriolet, also called "Natasha"

The Samara was sold all across the world, from Australia to Canada, in most European countries and throughout the COMECON sphere. In most nations, versions and equipments were decided on and installed by the dealers themselves. These local varieties ranged from decals and badges to the convertible conversions offered in Belgium and Germany. The Samara was often sold under other names as well, in particular the VAZ 21099 (Samara Sedan), which was sold as the "Sagona" (France and Spain), "Diva" (Belgium and the Netherlands), "Forma" (Germany)[22] and "Sable" (Australia and New Zealand).

In certain markets where the tax structure benefited diesels (such as France and the Benelux), the Samara was available with a 1.5-litre Peugeot diesel engine in 1995-97.

With VAZ facing bankruptcy in 1996-97, exports began coming to a halt. The Lada Samara disappeared from Canada after the 1997 model year, leaving the Niva as the only Lada sold in Canada for the 1998 model year. Exports to Australia and Britain ended around the same time. The biggest problem was GM's reluctancy to sell the fuel injection kits necessary for exports, as they doubted VAZ's ability to pay. Faced with parts shortages, tax problems, and the chaos and criminality of Russia in the mid-nineties, export efforts languished and RHD production was no longer feasible.[23]

As a partial response to this situation, a higher quality version for the European market, the Lada EuroSamara or Samara Baltic in some markets, was assembled in Finland at the Valmet Automotive plant in Uusikaupunki. Production started in summer 1996 and ended in July 1998, with 14 000 cars made from 85 per cent Russian parts.

British market

The United Kingdom had to wait nearly three years for the Samara to go on sale, after its launch in the USSR, but sales were reasonably strong when the first versions of the car left forecourts, in November 1987.

The Samara was a major change compared to other Lada models at the time, with a modern hatchback body-style and front-wheel drive as well as new engines featuring on the car. However, despite its advantages and NAMI (National Automobile Institute) having allowed the involvement of Porsche engineers in the engine development, the Samara never achieved the same success as the Riva, though it proved to be a robust car with a modern style and a very low purchase price. In a road test conducted by the Motor magazine, it scored more than 5 points out of 10 in most aspects and was praised for having a remarkably extensive list of standard equipment, “impressive” engine, good visibility and performance for its price segment, lowered fuel consumption, being good at cornering and “tolerably quiet”, but also received criticism for having a very cheap-looking interior and mouldings and being “very turbulent” on poor roads.[24] The molded plastic front grille installed on some modifications was often seen to be too cheap-looking and replaced either by the car's owners or Lada dealers themselves. These factors were a let-down for those consumers who had been expecting more from the new car. The build quality of the Samara was better than that of most Eastern European models[13] and the £4,795 price at introduction "was much less expensive" than the competing Peugeot 390 or Ford Escort 1300.[25] The Samara remained on sale in the United Kingdom right up to July 4, 1997, when the decision was made to withdraw from Great Britain and most other export markets.[26]

Samara 1500 hatchback (UK, Dec '92)
1991 Lada Samara 1300 5-door hatchback (Australia)

The attempt to appeal to a wider clientele failed; while an improvement over previous Ladas, the Samara's higher price pitched it against stiffer West European competition.

By the time of the Samara's launch, the British small family car market was effectively split into two segments: The large "mainstream" market was dominated by mass market manufacturers, such as Ford, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen. The "budget" market consisted of Eastern European and Far Eastern brands, such as Škoda, FSO, Hyundai, and Proton.

The Lada Samara was very much in the budget sector, but during its years on sale in Britain, it faced ever stiffer budget competitors such as the Škoda Favorit, Hyundai Pony and Proton "Aeroback". Strong initial sales soon dropped, as the competition leapt ahead with newer models from Daewoo, Hyundai, Kia and Proton, pushing Lada sales into terminal decline.[citation needed] The Samara came bottom of the annual 1996 and 1997 JD Power survey in Great Britain. In countries where ruggedness was more important, it did manage some success, selling reasonably well in Canada, Australia, and Finland for instance.[27] In the 1996 and 1997 Top Gear survey, the Lada Samara was named as the least satisfying car to own in Britain.


Initially sold as a three- or five-door hatchback with a 1.3 petrol engine, a 1.5 version became available in October 1988. Metallic paint became an option for the first time in November 1989 when the 1.5 SLX was launched. A new entry-level model arrived in July 1990 when the 1.1 petrol engine was added to the range (Select or L). An updated version of the Samara was launched in April 1991, with all new trimlevels. This was followed by the introduction of the VAZ 21099 saloon version 15 months later. The saloon also became available as a sporty 1.5 "Juno" from July 1994, featuring alloy wheels, swoopy, ill-fitting sideskirts and a rear spoiler. A fuel injected engine became available on the 1.3 and 1.5 models in August 1996.[28]

Australian market

The Samara was introduced into the Australian market in July 1988, and was offered in three-door and convertible body styles. A three-door variant called the Bizivan was also offered, which was sold without rear seats in order to qualify as a commercial van, and therefore, lower import duties. In 1990, the range was pared down to a single five-door model, marketed as the Lada Cevaro. The 3 door returned in 1994 as the Lada Volante and the four-door was introduced as the Lada Sable. Imports had ceased by 1996.[29]

In 1988, approximately 6,000 Lada Samaras were modified by Peter Brock's Special Vehicles operation that had previously made high performance Holden Commodores. The cars would be known as the Lada Samara Sedan Brock Delux and included a few subtle Brock-devised suspension tweaks to improve the car's low speed ride, as well as a special body kit. It cost about A$3,000 more than the base model Samara.

Samara 2

Lada Samara 2
VAZ 2115
Manufacturer AvtoVAZ
Also called Lada Samara 2
Lada Samara Coupe
VAZ 2113 (2004–2013)
VAZ 2114 (2001–2013)
VAZ 2115 (1997–2012)
Production 1997–2013
Assembly Togliatti, Russia (AvtoVAZ)
Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan (Azia Avto)
Body and chassis
Class Small family car
Body style 3 Door Coupe
4 Door Sedan
3 Door Hatchback
5 Door Hatchback
Layout FF layout
Wheelbase 1,370 mm (53.9 in)–4,330 mm (170.5 in)
Length 4,122 mm (162.3 in)–4,330 mm (170.5 in)
Width 1,650 mm (65.0 in)
Height 1,340 mm (52.8 in)
Successor Lada Granta
Lada Largus

After 1997, the Samara was mostly sold in its homeland only, although it was still sold in some foreign markets with less strict emissions regulations. The Samara 2, a lightly facelifted version with a fuel-injected version of the 1,499 cc engine and a better gearbox, went on sale in limited numbers as the 2115 (four-door sedan) in 1997, built at the VAZ "special vehicles" unit. Brakes and interior were also upgraded, incorporating parts from the VAZ 2110. Full production on the main line in Togliatti began in 2000, in 2002 a five-door (2114) was added and the 2113 three-door followed in September 2004. The three-door was not originally planned to be built, but was added as a response to strong dealer demand. The last first generation Samara rolled off the Togliatti production line in 2004, ending 20 years of production there. Production of the "classic" Samara 2109/21099 continued at ZAZ in Ukraine as of 2004, and from May 2007 in Kazakhstan (Asia Auto).

In January 2007, an upgraded Samara 2, using the modern 1.6-litre VAZ-11183-20 engine first seen in the VAZ 2110 went on sale. While the Lada 110 and the Lada Priora have taken much of the Samara's market share at home, the Samara retains a clear price advantage and steady demand. The production of sedan Lada Samara 2 was stopped in December 2012; hatchbacks will be still assembled until the end of 2013.[30]

Technical specifications

  • Available Trims: many were available through the years and on different markets. Most of trim options were actually importer upgrades.

Engine type

  • Engine designation: VAZ 21081, VAZ 2108, VAZ 21083, VAZ 21084; VAZ 415 (wankel type)
  • Valvetrain: OHC
  • Displacement (cc): 1100, 1288, 1500, 1568; 2x654 for Wankel engine
  • Bore (mm): 76.0, 76.0, 82.0, 82.0
  • Stroke (mm): 60.6, 71.0, 71.0, 74.2
  • Compression Ratio: 9.0 :1, 9.8:1, 9.8:1, 9,8:1
  • Net Power: 53 hp (40 kW; 54 PS) @5600, 67 hp (50 kW; 68 PS) @5600, 71 hp (53 kW; 72 PS) @4800, 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS) @4800; 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS) @6000 for Wankel engine
  • Fuel System: 2 barrel carburettor or multipoint electronic fuel injection
  • Recommended Fuel: Regular Unleaded, 87 Octane


  • Configuration :
    • Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
  • Transmission :
    • 4 or 5 forward synchromesh, 1 reverse (4-speed gearbox was used on early cars)


  • Type :
    • 3-door hatchback (VAZ 2108)
    • 5-door hatchback (VAZ 2109)
    • 4-door sedan (VAZ 21099)
  • Later styling of all Samara vehicles was updated, and they received new designations:
    • 3-door hatchback (VAZ 2113)
    • 5-door hatchback (VAZ 2114)
    • 4-door sedan (VAZ 2115)

There are various commercial and specialty conversions.

  • Suspension (front): MacPherson strut with coil spring
  • Suspension (rear): Longitudinal arms and cross beam with coil springs
  • Steering (type): Rack-and-pinion
  • Brakes (type): Power-assisted
  • Brakes (front): Discs
  • Brakes (Rear): Drums
  • Wheels (size): 13 inch
  • Tires (type): Steel-belted all-season radials
  • Tires (size and Rating): 165/70x13


First generation

For 2003, there were three levels trims: Standard (the notation (standing after the index model) 00, models with distributed injection of fuel 20, such as the VAZ-21083-00), Norma (the notation 01 and 21) and Luxe (the notation 02 and 22) that vehicles with different bodies differed.

In the version with body thre-door hatchback Standard grade includes the onboard control system, tweed seat upholstery, metallic color, luggage rack, front head restraints; in version "20" were also microprocessor ignition system, the electro-door locks, immobilizer. In the configuration Norma added tweed seat covers with pockets in the front seats, door trim tweed, trim the trunk, anti-glare visor with mirror; in the version of "21" were also converter and a system for collecting gasoline vapors. In the Luxe configuration added headlamp cleaning system, exterior mirrors with antidazzle effect and tinted windows.

In the version with five-door hatchback body Standard equipment included a tweed seat upholstery with pockets in the front seats, fabric inserts tweed upholstered doors, trunk trim, trunk rack, front head restraints, metallic color; version of the "20" had the same differences as in other bodies. In the configuration Norma added rear headrests and anti-glare visor with mirror. In the Luxe configuration added front electric windows and fog lamps.

In the version with the sedan body configuration were the same as the five-door hatchback, with the exception of the fog lights that have appeared in version Norma.

Second generation

There were two levels of equipment: Norma and Luxe. The Norma of grade included steel wheels, immobilizer, central locking, tweed seat upholstery and door, height adjustable steering column, front electric windows, front head restraints, tailgate spoiler / tailgate, moldings on the doors. Luxe trim different caps on the wheels, trip computer, velvet upholstery seats and doors, athermal glass windows, rear headrests, a mirror in the sun visor of the passenger and heated front seats.

See also


  1. Thompson, Andy. Cars of the Soviet Union (Haynes Publishing, Somerset, UK, 2008), p.251
  2. "Ao"Азия Авто"". Retrieved 18 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. [1] Archived 11 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "1987 VAZ Lada Samara 1500 technical specifications". Retrieved 19 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Модель ВАЗ-1101 (in русский). Retrieved 24 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Thompson, p.251.
  7. Thompson, p.251, mentions only the Kadett, 9, & Escort.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Thompson, p.252.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Thompson, pp.252-253.
  10. Модель ВАЗ-2108 (in русский). Retrieved 24 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Andy Thompson (2008). Cars of the Soviet Union: The Definite History. Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset: Haynes. pp. 251–252. ISBN 978-1-84425-483-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Letrou, Jean-Claude (January 1986). "Lada Samara: L'anti-Seat". L'Automobile Magazine (in French). Neuilly-sur-Seine, France: Societé des Editions Techniques et Touristiques de France: 69. ISSN 0758-6957.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Thompson, p.253.
  14. Thompson, pp.253-254.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Thompson, p.255.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Thompson, p.257 caption.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Thompson, p.259.
  18. (1985)
  19. Thompson, pp.258-259.
  20. Thompson, p.258 caption.
  21. Thompson, pp.257-259
  22. Thompson, pp. 255, 257
  23. Thompson, pp. 323, 328
  24. The Motor, December 5, 1987, pp. 40-41
  25. Thompson, pp.257-258
  26. Lada History in the UK", Lada Owners Club UK
  27. Thompson, p. 260
  28. Lada Cars in the UK, Lada Owners Club UK
  29. The Red Book, retrieved from on 14 September 2009
  30. "Production of VAZ-2115 Lada Samara-2 Stopped". 27 December 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

16 EAST EUROPEAN CARS book by Julian Nowill, published by Sutton Publishing Limited England 2000 ISBN 0-7509-2369-5

External links