established 1978

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 In February 1995, the 333,333rd Lada, a Samara 1.5GXS was produced at the Carnaby Import Centre and to mark the achievement, the vehicle was donated to the Cancer Research Campaign after it was voted the most deserving cause by the entire staff of MVI UK. Over the years Lada also supported Childwatch, BEN - the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund and individual dealers were also very supportive of worthwhile causes. They also sponsored at various times the Lada Classic Snooker Tournament, Leeds Rugby League Football Club, and the Trafford Metros ice hockey team to name a few!


  In August 1996 the long awaited advertisement for the fuel injected Samara appeared in the press with the headline, 'There isn't a single reason to buy the new 1.5 injected Samara.' Taken out of context this headline perhaps forewarned that all was not well with Lada in the UK. During a trip to Russia at the beginning of 1997, a new deal for the supply of spares was agreed, but not the all important supply of new right-hand-drive stock. AvtoVaz wanted more money per unit as they did not have the hard cash to buy fuel injection components from GM and could not, due to emissions legislation, bring carburettor equipped cars into the UK. MVI wanted more product for their money. A further meeting ended in deadlock. MVI boss Terry Clarkson resigned and took part in discussions with an unnamed company to buy MVI from Inchcape and continue the Lada franchise, buying units from Finland - the Baltic Samara.


  On July 4th 1997 it was officially announced Lada cars had finally reached the end of the road in Britain. No new cars would be imported, but Lada owners, thought to number 100,000 would still get parts and servicing through UK dealers. MVI's owners Inchcape said an offer to acquire MVI had now been withdrawn and the Lada business had been closed. Reason given, the difficulty in obtaining an American-made part to enable Ladas to comply with emission standards meant the Russian manufacturer AvtoVaz could no longer supply cars to MVI based at Carnaby. After over 350,000 sales, one of Britain's most talked about and best loved cars was consigned to motoring history. At their peak in 1988, more than 30,000 Lada cars were sold, although almost 10 years later, this figure had fallen to around 4,500 cars. The most popular model was the Samara and the most popular colour red.


  9th July 1997, the last 1000 new Ladas available in the UK were offered for sale, not only through Lada dealers but other Inchcape outlets. The 939 Samaras, 17 Riva Estates and 44 4x4 Nivas were in great demand and a Lada hot-line was set up to handle enquiries.


  Still produced in Russia, the latest models are available in western Europe but not here in the UK.


  Could it be that in the not too distant future, Lada, like Phoenix, will rise from the ashes (of motoring history) and be on sale again in the UK. Only time will tell.

























The 333,333 Lada,

a Lada Samara 1.5 GXS

Teams of 2 on the Niva assembly line

Lada made the basic models and Carnaby did the conversions


UK Lada History - 3