The original Ladas were based upon the Italian Fiat 124. They were cheap, utilitarian, autos. Many were exported and earned the Soviet Union hard currency.
The Ladas were the butt of many jokes about
their reliability. However, many owners liked them. A Russian immigrant
I knew who always had one claimed they were easy to fix for most
problems. There were not that many sold in
and the dealer network was weak. I see one quite rarely in my area now.
The 4x4 Niva was more popular than the car in these parts.
car was very much out of style for years. However, now that they are
going out of production they will probably become collector items. I
enclose a short video. For more see this article. The company that produced the Lada Avtovaz will still produce other models.