Remember the Lada Samara? Launched in 1984, it was Russia’s answer to the Volkswagen Golf. As you’d expect, it wasn’t even in the same vicinity as being remotely as good as the all-conquering Golf.
The Samara arrived in the UK in ’87 and though sales were initally strong, they soon tailed off as everyone realised just how bad it was. Lada withdrew from the UK in ’97, precisely no-one giving a toss.
Lada made several desperate attempts to boost interest, one of which was the car pictured above. The Juno special edition was launched in ’94 wearing a curvy bodykit that actually marginally improved the otherwise brick-like styling. But it was very cheaply and nastily made – note the moulding line across the lower edge of the front bumper – badly fitted and probably made an excellent water trap.
I had completely forgotten about it until I saw this image, with jogged the vague recollection that the parents of one the kids at my school had one. It might even have been a taxi.
Lada probably only sold a couple of hundred Samara Junos and, according to HowManyLeft, it has been extinct since 2009. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all succumbed to dissolving sills and wheelarches, as water and grime built up behind the fibreglass. Incidentally, only 24 Samaras of any sort are left on the UK’s roads, a survival rate likely to be rather less than a tenth of one percent.
The sorry sight of the Samara Juno got me wondering if there had been any other bodykitted Samaras and, sadly, it turned out there had. Some, surprisingly, even worse than the Juno. My favourite is the Sagona GLX, complete with many exposed screwheads; not the height of car modifying fashion as it is now, but simply an indication of just how crap it is.
By Only Motors