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Lada Riva (1981 - )

Last updated 31 July 2013


Buying Guide


  • Based on 1960s Fiat 124.
  • 13' 4" long by 5' 3" wide and around 1,050kg.
  • Last ones had 1,452cc 72bhp catalysed engine. Very tough. They gave you a full set of tools to fix it when it went wrong.
  • Kids don't steal them for joy rides.
  • Made infamous by Maureen and Dave Rees from TV's 'Driving School'.
  • Owners display their own brand of inverted snobbery. Quite a few 'catless' cars legally took advantage of extended 'cat' deadline.
  • Estate cars make the best sense. Dealers and parts specialists can be 'salt of the earth'.


  • Appalling build quality.
  • Very basic.
  • Noisy, thirsty, dated and lumpy to drive (nothing like a real Fiat 124).
  • Spare parts supply not guaranteed to last indefinitely.
  • Factory infiltrated by the Russian Mafia.
  • Post-August 1992 models fitted with cats have severe trouble passing MOT advanced emissions systems test.
  • Hardly any left.


  • Where do you start?
  • Conscientious owners look after them properly.
  • People who buy them for £100 at an auction, don't bother to maintain them and simply run them into the ground.
  • Listen for signs of big ends going.
  • Expect some gearbox whine, but not too much.
  • Unscrew a spark plug to see if it's burning oil.
  • Trim may have fallen apart of its own accord under the inevitable seat covers.
  • Electrics play up (fusebox shorts, distributor wears out). If you're paying the full £100, make sure the tools are all there.
  • Hardly any left in UK.
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