Lada was created by the the Soviet government, both to create a people's car for the home market, and to sell well in export markets. And to make this happen it looked to the west. After Fiat signed a deal with the USSR in 1966 to supply expertise for a massive new car factory at Togliatti, AvtoVAZ stared building a model based on the Fiat 124 from 1969.
When exported, the cars were badged as Ladas. They were crude, cheap, and gained a following with those who wanted a new car but couldn’t afford capitalist prices. The Niva – a dependable 4x4 – joined the catalogue in 1979. However, financial difficulties as a result of lack of quality and constant jokes about Lada quality prompted AvtoVAZ to withdraw from most European markets in 1997. The Riva remained in production until 2012, replaced by a range of Chevrolet-based cars.