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Lada Riva

The VAZ-2105, VAZ-2104 and VAZ-2107 (collectively known as the Lada Riva in most Western European markets) are a series of medium-sized family cars built by Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ, introduced in 1980 in the Soviet Union, and progressively in other European markets through the early 1980s and sold in both saloon and estate versions. Today they are generally referred to as the Lada Classic series, being derived from the original Fiat 124 platform which has been the now-iconic mainstay of the AvtoVAZ lineup since the company's foundation in the late 1960s. It is the third best selling automobile platform after the Volkswagen Beetle and the Ford Model T.

History

Although introduced in the early 1981 the Riva's origins are older: it is a restyled version of the original Lada type VAZ-2101 "Zhiguli" saloon, which was introduced in 1970. The Riva itself is officially designated – and known in the home market –as VAZ-2105 (base saloon), VAZ-2104 (estate), and VAZ-2107 (deluxe saloon identified by large chrome grille). Other names sometimes used include Pyatyorka ("the five"), Chetvyorka ("the four") and Semyorka ("the seven"). In Russia, VAZ-2105, VAZ-2104 and VAZ-2107 are considered to be different cars rather than variants but nonetheless all of them are part of a single "Klassika" ("Classic") family along with older models such as the VAZ-2101.

Mechanically, the car is virtually identical to the first-generation VAZ-2101 model, featuring the Fiat-derived manual transmissions, coil spring suspension all round and aluminum drum brakes on the rear wheels. The smaller-engined variant, the 1300 cc version (VAZ-2105) had a major four-cylinder engine revamp compared to the original VAZ-2101 (Lada 1200). The old OHC-engine had its valves actuated by chain, while the new one was modified to having a toothed belt-drive. Nonetheless, the Riva's larger-engined version (VAZ-2107) carried on with the old 1500 cc, chain-driven OHC engine coming over from the original Lada 1500 (VAZ-2103) of 1973. Another change was done to the engine in the 1992, when single point fuel injection and catalytic converters were specified in an attempt to keep up with emissions legislation.

Tightening safety and emissions legislation led to the Riva being withdrawn from most Western European markets by 1997, although it is still in production at the AvtoVAZ factory in the Russian Federation and is now sold as the Lada Classic. In 2005, production of the estate model was taken over by Izh, before assembly was transferred to the Bogdan Group's LuAZ plant. The 2107 model is still in production, not only at AutoVAZ but also at the ZAZ factory in Ukraine, and at Suzuki's factory in Egypt. It is anticipated that Russian production of both the 2105 and 2107 will have been completely moved to Izh by the middle of 2011.

In the UK the Lada Riva was one of the most popular low-budget cars on the market. Its spartan interiors, dated styling and outdated mechanics meant that it was never actually aimed at buyers of market leaders' similar-sized products, such as the Ford Sierra, Vauxhall Cavalier and Austin Montego. The Riva was still selling well in Britain and many other western markets in the early 1990s, but the next few years saw a raft of new models come from budget competitors such as Daewoo, Hyundai, Kia and Proton, pushing Lada sales into terminal decline. This, combined with the much-needed investment to adapt cars to stricter European Union emissions requirements not being available, resulted in the decision to withdraw Lada from the UK (and some other European Markets) and Canada on 4 July 1997.

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