At busy times, up to 300 cars a week passed in and out of it's gates. Factory /
Production process? Well, not strictly true: the cars that rolled out of the
enormous cargo ships and on to the transporters to make the short to Carnaby
were finished - complied fully with British safety and emissions regulations and
could have been handed over to the customers on the quayside. Virtually.
However, to meet the more rigorous demands and expectations of the far more
sophisticated western European markets, the cars received a great deal more
care and attention as they passed through the various departments within
Carnaby where a £500,000 investment had made this facility one of the most
advanced in the UK, with specialised paint shop, a bang-up-to-date road test unit
to check mechanicals and electricals, as well as a huge parts distribution centre.
Lada made the basic models, but most car buyers opted for L and GL models
with progressively more equipment; and, in the case of a Samara GL a 1.5
engine. Each model travelled down its own production line as did the Riva and
4x4 Niva. After a thorough pre-delivery inspection, the top Samara models got
bumpers painted to match the body colour, re-covered seats, leather-trimmed
steering wheels and gear-knobs, sunroofs, in-car-entertainment packages,
coach-lines, rear reflector panels, wheel-trims - they were all expertly fitted. In
fact a total of 14 people were constantly dedicated to upgrading model
specifications. Here special edition of Samaras are lined up in the paint shop for
'up-speccing' as motor industry insiders call it.
Teams of two on a special assembly line transformed the basic specification Niva
model into the top of the range Cossack which was equipped with stylish new
five-spoke alloy wheels, re-covered cloth seats, new door-trims and headlining,
stereo radio/cassette player, bull bars front and rear, a sunroof, external spare
wheel carrier, roof rack bars, halogen spot lights at the front, sporty wheel arch
extensions and the individual Cossack graphic decals.
The majority of components used in the up-specification process were UK
sourced and Lada spent more than 1.5 million pounds annually with British
From 1977, Lada produced the Niva four-wheel drive. It was hugely superior to
Japanese rivals like the infamous Suzuki SJ in terms of practicality and stability,
and above all else, few off-roaders in the world could better it's off-road ability.
The Niva sold at a sizeable price discount to its rivals. This was one area where
Lada achieved some market success in the 1990s. The Niva was adopted by
several British police forces, the Coastguard, the Manx Electricity Board and
attracted something of a cult following within the 4x4 enthusiast fraternity in the
UK and elsewhere.
The fully integrated French 'bilanmatic'
system that did all this was the only one in
the country. Any failures would have
additional care and attention to ensure a
The cars were streamed into different
lines depending on which variant they
would become. For special editions
requiring a different paint treatment, the
cars were taken through a state-of-the-art
low-bake spray oven.
With the ability to prepare 120 vehicles
daily, there were two deliveries to the
production lines, consisting of
consumables and all the parts needed
for upgrading models.
Lada used British-made alloy wheels,
seating and re-trimming materials,
leather for steering wheels and seats,
body styling components and sunroofs.
As well as buying British wherever
possible, Lada Cars was the second
biggest employer in the Bridlington area.
LADA OWNERS CLUB of GREAT BRITAIN