Former Enemies United: Soviet VAZ 2103 Lada Engineered By Porsche

Offbeat

Soviet auto history? Yes, that's what they want you to think.

So here's the short story: Back in 1975, the president of Porsche met with the Soviet minister of the automotive industry in the former USSR. At some point during their conversation, the subject turned to the idea of the German sports car builder to engineer a model specifically for the Soviets. Some Communist conspiracy? International espionage? Most likely not, but hey, business is business. The result was a significant update of the VAZ-2103.

Launching the supposedly improved car in 1976, Porsche designers basically removed all of the car's original chrome, including the moldings and metal bumpers and replaced them with plastic. Other changes are a bit vague (imagine that), but Porsche engineers also improved the car's handling and overall driving feel. Still, we thought it was interesting that Porsche, which was based in West Germany, worked with the Soviet government/automaker (one in the same, honestly) on a car that was based off a Fiat. It was re-engineered for life behind the Iron Curtain, meaning it had to handle the daily duties of driving on crappy roads and harsh winters.

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The Porsche-VAZ alliance continued here and there over the years, but nothing significant, not to mention memorable, ever came from it. The VAZ-2103 remained in production until 1984 and was originally equipped with a 1.5-liter engine and was based off the Fiat 124.

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