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Manufacturer of Iconic Soviet Car Lada Ceases Sales in Hungary – With Archive Photos!

Fanni Kaszás 2020.06.10.

Sales of the new Lada cars have ceased in Hungary unexpectedly, but the service network will remain. The iconic car of the Eastern Bloc during the Soviet Union is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. The first model was the Lada 1200, better known as “Zhiguli,” commonly nicknamed “Kopeyka” (the coin change of Russian currency ruble).

Hungarian pro-government news portal Origo already reported on Friday that the owner of the Lada brand will cease the sales of the Lada in Hungary. On Tuesday, it was officially confirmed that the sale of Lada in Hungary has ceased. The official statement said that the sales of the new cars have been “suspended indefinitely.” However, service and warranty activities, as well as the supply of car parts, will continue uninterrupted.

In recent months, Lada has only sold the Vesta and the former Niva cars (which currently runs under the name 4×4 Classic and Urban) in Hungary. From now on, only the last stock pieces are being sold out, no more stock will arrive. The Lada brand was previously majority-owned by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. In developing the alliance’s global strategy, it was decided that Lada would no longer be marketed in Europe.

LADA 4×4 Urban at the AutoMobil and Tuning Show at Hungexpo, Budapest. (photo: János Marjai/MTI)

The cease of the sales is in the year of an anniversary: the iconic car of the area behind the Iron Curtain celebrates its 50th birthday this year. The first Zhiguli, the Lada 1200 was a heavily modified and license-built version of the Italian car Fiat 124 (Car of the Year in 1967) tailored for the Soviet Union and much of the Eastern Bloc. It was first manufactured in Togliatti, Russia and introduced in 1970. Subsequently, it was widely exported to the West under the Lada brand. In Hungary, during the socialist era, Lada was marketed by Merkur, and later by Hungarolada.

1982, Lada brand shop (photo: Fortepan, donated by Tamás Urbán)

The brand’s return to Hungary was announced at the end of 2015 and since then nearly 4,000 new Lada have found owners. The cars were really popular in Hungary and they still are: according to the data of the Central Statistical Office, at the end of last year there were 33,414 Lada in the Hungarian car fleet (in 2011 there were even more than a hundred thousand). However, their average age was very high, at 26.6 years.

Lada Hungary Kft., the marketer of the cars belonging to the Duna Car Group, promises that if Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s European strategy changes in the future, it will continue to market new models of the brand in Hungary. Until then, the nationwide branded service network is still available to owners.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic car and to commemorate the history of the brand in Hungary, we have collected some archival pictures from Fortepan and the Hungarian News Agency MTI:

1972, Budapest, car market. (photo: Fortepan, donated by István Péterffy)

1972, Budapest, headquarters of Merkur, the marketer of Lada (photo: Fortepan, donated by Uvaterv)

1972, Budapest, headquarters of Merkur, the marketer of Lada (photo: Fortepan, donated by Uvaterv)

1972, Budapest, International Fair, Lada 1200 Zhiguli. (photo: Fortepan, donated by Gyula Nagy)

1974, Budapest, a Lada police car (photo: Fortepan, donated by Magyar Rendőr)

1975, the cameraman of the Hungarian television in the trunk of a Zhiguli (photo: Fortepan, donated by Mihály Kútvölgyi/Rádió és televízió újság)

1980, Szolnok, gas station with a Lada. (photo: Fortepan, donated by Magyar Rendőr)

1981, Budapest, wedding Lada car next to the church. (photo: Fortepan, donated by Fortepan)

1983, Student driver in a Lada at the ATI study field. (photo: Fortepan, donated by Magyar Rendőr)

1989, Heroes square, a Lada taxi at the reburial of Imre Nagy and the heroes of ’56. (photo: Fortepan, donated by Tamás Kovacsik)

1989, Hungary. (photo: Fortepan, donated by Magyar Rendőr)

featured photo: János Marjai/MTI

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