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Lada (7907461522).jpg
Manufacturer AvtoVAZ
Also called Lada 1200[1]
Lada 1300[1]
Lada 1500[1]
Production 1972–1984
Assembly Tolyatti, Soviet Union (AvtoVAZ)
Body and chassis
Class Compact car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine 1,198 cc I4[1]
1,294 cc I4[1]
1,452 cc I4[1]
1,570 cc I4[1]
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,424 mm (95.4 in)
Length 4,116 mm (162.0 in)
Width 1,611 mm (63.4 in)
Height 1,446 mm (56.9 in)
Kerb weight 1,030 kg (2,271 lb)
Successor VAZ-2106

The VAZ-2103 is a deluxe compact sedan car (small class, passenger car, model 3 in Soviet classification), produced by AvtoVAZ and introduced in 1972. Better known as the Lada outside of its native Russia, it was a localized version of the Fiat 124 Special built under license and tailored for the Soviet and Eastern European market. The 2103 differs from the VAZ-2101 exterior, with four headlights, moldings on the sides of the body and large rear lights. Its main difference - the more powerful 75 hp (56 kW; 76 PS) 1,452 cc (88.6 cu in) straight four.[2] In addition, this model is distinguished by the presence of vacuum brake booster and self-adjusting rear brakes, "sport" instrument panel with rev counter and a dashboard clock.[3]

Known as the Zhiguli within the Soviet Union, the main differences between the VAZ-2103 and the Fiat 124 Special are the use of thicker-gauge steel for the bodyshell (so the 2103 weighed 1,030 kg (2,270 lb), the Fiat 105 kg (231 lb) less[4]), an overhead camshaft engine (in place of the original Fiat OHV unit), and the use of aluminium drum brakes on the rear wheels in place of disc brakes. The car featured a starting handle for cranking the engine manually should the battery go flat in Siberian winter conditions and an auxiliary fuel pump.[4] It also included a clock and improved soundproofing.[3]

It was later joined by the 1,198 cc (73.1 cu in)-powered 21035 and 1,294 cc (79.0 cu in) (VAZ 21011-engined) 21033.[3]

AvtoVAZ were forbidden from selling the car in competing markets alongside the Fiat 124; however exports to Western European nations began in 1974 when the 124 was discontinued in favour of Fiat's newer 131 Mirafiori model. The VAZ-2103 was sold in export markets as the Lada 1500 from mid-1970s to early 1980. In the United Kingdom,[5] it was sold from May 1976 until May 1979 and it was the second Lada car to be sold in this market.


  • VAZ-2103 (1972-1984) — 4-door saloon was equipped with 1,452 cc (88.6 cu in) straight four. Compared to the Fiat 124 Special modifications were done to suspension, carburetor and some other parts in order to satisfy the wide range of Russian climate conditions. All these models had an adapted to the local roads and still soft enough suspension, that provided very comfortable ride even on tough gravel roads. The Lada became a real hit in Soviet Union. The "Zhiguli" cars opened a new epoch in Russian motorization. More expensive VAZ-2103 was considered a prestigious model, and was very popular among Soviet white-collar workers. Unfortunately the Togliatti plant where Lada were produced could not keep up with the consumer demand and people had to wait for years to get chances to buy a car.
  • VAZ-21033 (1977-1983) — similar to VAZ-2103, engine 1,294 cc (79.0 cu in) (VAZ-21011), exported as the Lada 1300SL.
  • VAZ-21035 (1973-1981) — similar to VAZ-2103, engine 1,198 cc (73.1 cu in) (VAZ-2101), exported as the Lada 1200DL.
  • VAZ-21023 (1977-1985) — the break version VAZ-2102 was equipped with engine VAZ-2103 (1.5 l) and panel also known as Lada 1500 Combi (1500 DL Estate). Lada 1500 Estate sales in the UK started in October 1977 and ended in October 1985 as the Lada 1500 DL Estate.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Lewis, Martin (1998), A-Z of Cars of the 1980s, p. 68<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Thompson, Andy. Cars of the Soviet Union (Haynes Publishing, Somerset, UK, 2008), p. 110.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Thompson, p. 111.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thompson, p. 109.
  5. "Lada 1500 brochure". Satra Motors. 1976. Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>