We know the Lada Riva to be terrible. One of the worst cars ever made, in fact. Yet, if you dug down deep enough, there was a half-decent car trying to get out.
It’s not a complete surprise as the Riva was based on the Fiat 124, one of the original sports saloons. It became a highly effective rally car – the Central and Eastern European equivalent of the Mk1/2 Ford Escort – and a huge tuning scene built up around it.
Professional tuners like Finnish firm Konela even offered packaged upgrades from their catalogues, like the car you see here. I’m not entirely sure why anyone would have bought Konela’s pack, though, as it looks like a bit of a lash-up.
Let’s start with bodykit, typically Eighties and, at best, clumsy. Certainly not sporty in any way. Doesn’t help that the suspension retains its lofty standard height, and the wheels are no bigger. Which doesn’t bode well for what’s under the bonnet: a turbo.
The Riva’s standard 1.5-litre engine was a rough, wheezing old donkey. I can only assume an extra dollop of turbo lag did nothing to help matters; in fact, it probably made the situation much worse. Especially when the thing’s running standard suspension and brakes.
I can only find Finnish reports of what the Konela Riva Turbo was like to drive. I sincerely hope they advised readers to avoid it all costs. They are ways to tune and improve a Lada, but the Konela Riva Turbo is not it.
By Only Motors