The Soviet government inked a deal with Fiat to assist setting up a new factory to build its then-current 124. The factory that was set-up in Togliatti ended up being the largest in Europe, and the VAZ 2100-series cars it churned out became the Soviet Union’s best-seller by a country mile. They were rechristened the Lada for export markets, and soon picked up a useful market share thanks to low prices and high equipment levels. Stodgier than the Fiat to drive, and blessed with the best toolkit in the business, Ladas have their fans despite being laughed at by most sane people.
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Information from Octane Magazine.