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Masha - ЗАЗ Таврiя (ZAZ Tavria) caramac dreams


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As started in the general Tavria thread 

Here is Masha’s story and adventures.

It all begins pre-lockdown - with Sam’s Garage Sale of Dreams. I cannot afford an Oltcit or Aleko... but for years I have wanted a Tavria because it is the most pretty, simple design.

Of course, I knew nothing of Soviet and AutoZAZ build quality then, having only owned Rivas that are basically small Volvo 240 estates in my mind.

However. Lockdown happens - is a four-month wait in 2021 akin to the waiting list of the Soviet buyer of a Tavria in 1988 who will have sat patiently as their entire world changed and better, used Western cars crossed the border?

The only way Masha (name may stick, we’ll see) could be better is being Sky Blue - for one of the reasons getting a Tavria now is significant.

Because my work and to an extent, anxiety post shitty brainwashing ex and lockdown being through the roof, meant getting down to visit Sam and his wonderful collection was unlikely, Sam’s offer to deliver this fine Soviet car right to my door was massively appreciated.

Now the adventure begins:

 

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I vaguely recall this model was being considered for the UK market, to be sold as a Lada for a list price of under £3000 (1990 ish). 

Of course it never happened. Bugger all profit margin I suspect. 

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3 hours ago, ProgRocker said:

I vaguely recall this model was being considered for the UK market, to be sold as a Lada for a list price of under £3000 (1990 ish). 

Of course it never happened. Bugger all profit margin I suspect. 

I suspect the inability to pass standard crash tests might have had more to do with it....

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4 hours ago, ProgRocker said:

I vaguely recall this model was being considered for the UK market, to be sold as a Lada for a list price of under £3000 (1990 ish). 

Of course it never happened. Bugger all profit margin I suspect. 

1990's the USSR economy was on its hole, years trying to match the bullshine "Star Wars" program the US had that just turned out to be fiction. A lot of that went on. Think it was also the time when the USSR gave New Zealand a load of Lada's in exchange for milk and butter. 

Think as well for an export to be fruitful, the exchange rates needed to work in favour of them. Which I think the roubles was worth pebbles at the time, and us pig dog decadent westerners wanted fancy stuff like a radio. So that cost them money.

Although saying that, 1990's-ish was off the back of the Lada Riva being in the top ten best sellers in the UK. So they had some sort of momentum too.

But enough of that, I want to see more of your beige bits!

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Crash performance in Russian tests is abysmal, particularly the way the spare wheel likes to visit the driver’s chest with a nice hug. But no worse than most 1970s/80s Euro designs I suspect - I doubt it’s worse than a Panda, 127 or Renault 5 of any era.

Fit and finish though - the dashboard on Ed’s red one in pics looks different and more like the ones on the Daewoo-fettled Tavria.

They’d have been going over the whole interior to meet Samara tastes - but even the Samara was given special treatment for export. I reckon the Tavria would have needed too much but only because by 1992 you’ve got the Mk 3 Fiesta, facelifted Polo, upgraded Metro.

Against Mk 2 Fiesta, pre-facelift Polo and A-Series Metro I reckon it would have had a chance.

Got a V55/5 and got an insurance quote (only £300 🙄 need to shop around), need to sort MOT.

First jobs:

Clear waxoyl everything.

New boot struts.

Investigate tyres (I used to trust Barums on my Beetle).

More waxing.

Stick shiny new badge on.

Got some number plate carriers - need to print some Ukrainian dealer stuff on a sticker for authenticity - and ordering recreated Russian plates.

I have bought a Soviet tinplate badge and a service manual...

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5 hours ago, Dave_Q said:

My favourite thing about this car is that it looks like a 1988 version of the photoshopped cars they use in insurance adverts where they have made it look like quite a lot of other generic hatchbacks but at the same time not like any of them.

As long as it doesn’t get damaged I will be listing it on a car model agency for such roles.

If it does get damaged they can buy me a replacement from Ukraine.

Or a Dana loaded with spares if it’s not toooo badly damaged

Ultimate goal: to get Meerkats with mock-Russian accents in it.

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Looks like a citroen Visa windscreen and wiper fitted to a Skoda favorit.

It either needs a flatter windscreen or a more curved rest-of-the-car.  It's a very oddly styled car.

And as autoshite as they come.  I mentioned to a Russian/Lithuanian friend if he knew what a ZAZ Tavria was.  He very much did, and thought it was both brilliant and utterly shit at the same time.  Well, yes.... what's your point?

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All Russian/Ukrainian friends of friends are now tasked with finding any ZAZ items of joy, and will be rewarded with hard currency, Western candy or Levis jeans.

(like fuck can I afford branded jeans. But when I went to Russia with school I traded mini mars bars for vodka in the hotel bar)

I genuinely love how it looks.

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3 hours ago, St.Jude said:

1990's the USSR economy was on its hole, years trying to match the bullshine "Star Wars" program the US had that just turned out to be fiction. A lot of that went on. Think it was also the time when the USSR gave New Zealand a load of Lada's in exchange for milk and butter. 

Think as well for an export to be fruitful, the exchange rates needed to work in favour of them. Which I think the roubles was worth pebbles at the time, and us pig dog decadent westerners wanted fancy stuff like a radio. So that cost them money.

Although saying that, 1990's-ish was off the back of the Lada Riva being in the top ten best sellers in the UK. So they had some sort of momentum too.

But enough of that, I want to see more of your beige bits!

Post collapse the USSR was raided. It's more complicated than "they spent too much money lol". 

This car is superb. 

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3 hours ago, RichardK said:

Ultimate goal: to get Meerkats with mock-Russian accents in it.

Much as I dislike the meerkat ads and think they have been on TV for way too many years, if you can get this car into an advert with them I will buy you a crate of your favourite beer and personally deliver it.

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I was reading the other week that they very briefly imported them to France in the late 80s but they were so poorly built that, after an array of complaints, they were forced to recall them all and replace them with new Lada Samaras.

Thats the level of quality we can expect, I guess. Fantastic buy! 

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2 hours ago, MiniMort said:

I was reading the other week that they very briefly imported them to France in the late 80s but they were so poorly built that, after an array of complaints, they were forced to recall them all and replace them with new Lada Samaras.

They were notorious (among other defects) for poorly welded door hinges, which made the doors fall off (I kid you not). Their thermostats were often defective ex-works and when ordered as a spare part, only one in five was conditionally useable.

They also tried to sell them in Germany with no success, because, at the time, the Ossis already had their deutschmarks and nobody wanted to replace an ageing Trabi or Wartburg with another Kremlwanze, no matter how cheap. IIRC, at the time of reunification, the bestselling new car in former DDR was Hyundai Pony.

A few years later, a bunch of Polish cowboys decided to use a derelict ex-textile factory to assemble the shite locally. The results were easy to predict. I doubt any of these ever sold outside Poland.

When it became clear that ZAZ is unable to pay for headlamps/ignition modules imported from Czechoslovakia, they offered to pay in cars instead. The supplier, desperate to get at least some of its money back, agreed. As they were a manufacturer of electric car parts and not a car dealer, they tried to sell the unwanted shite ASAP from an outdoor warehousing areas with offices located in portable buildings. The cars were clearly marked on their windshields with various tempting* notices, e.g. "Runs OK, right doorlock sticks", "Will not start when wet", "Broken wipers" etc.

All in all, I think the best bet for spares would be Poland or one of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia).

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1 minute ago, Bitzer said:

They were notorious (among other defects) for poorly welded door hinges, which made the doors fall off (I kid you not). Their thermostats were often defective ex-works and when ordered as a spare part, only one in five was conditionally useable.....

That makes me wonder if any of the cars built actually came off the production line with no defects at all.......?

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27 minutes ago, RichardK said:

I've actually bought one... though I think this is more of a parts manual. ....

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It does say "Katalog - Detaliyi Avtomobiliya ZAZ-1102" - so that's probably what you've got.

Cover pic actually makes the car look more decent than the (socialist) reality. There's hints of Lotus Sunbeam towards the back.

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15 hours ago, spartacus said:

That's a great looking car IMO, the colour suits it well. Is it in as good a condition as it looks?

 

Generally yes. I  know I'm notorious for picking cars apart but generally I'm only upset if the car ISN'T what I was told it was and the source of the car should know better - in the case of the Tavria there's absolutely no risk because Sam was very open and realistic about it (the car had a proper sulk about being asked to move), and I knew pretty much what I was getting into - and in fact, it's only got some very minor damage, most of it is remarkably good for a 26 year old car.

The only issue I can't fix is a small hole where a drain plug is too small for the hole it fits in because some of the metal didn't want to defect from Russia. That will be held in stasis or duct tape depending on mood. It's under the spare wheel and entirely predictable.

Sam mentioned it likes to run a little hot on the gauge but the cooling fan kicks in fine - I'm suspecting the thermostat problem mentioned by Blitzer could be the explanation, so maybe need to buy five thermostats from Poland and test them all in a bucket of boiling water.

I need some boot struts, to darn a hole in the fabric parcel shelf (these may be related), to work out the correct amount of wobble for the door mirrors (this is one area where upgrades from a Slavuta/Tavria Nova may be sensible) and to get it mobile, drive it about and make sure the brakes and things are behaving - Sam's already done some recommissioning work ahead of selling it, so that list isn't that scary, and it came with a box of spares including two badges (I'd actually really like NOS Cyrillic badges, as it's got Roman script ones at the moment).

I also need some wheel nuts - there are locking nuts on and frankly those just seem like asking for trouble.

The rubber window seals and things are all great, but the wipers need replacing as you'd expect. Rear wiper has power all the time. That didn't scare me at all when I accidentally pushed the button.

We get a lot of dust here so waxing is very dependent on getting a clear day and/or the garage clear so it can hide while it's done properly.

I mean, there's a path here. I can either keep it 100% original-as-possible, or I can run it as I imagine someone would in Ukraine, upgrading/fitting improved parts from later cars where feasible. Mostly I lean towards the former, but in the case of the door mirrors (they are abysmal) I think the improvement for the flush A-pillar type might be worth the lack of originality.

The lack of grille makes me very happy. They look weird with the plastic grille IMO.

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Re the thermostat, could you fit an inline renault 5 thermostat instead? Yes, it will detract from its originality but not visibly so, and replacements will be more easily available and reliable? Just a thought.

Also this car is basically pure win. 

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I don't know if it's a remote-style one anyway (looks like it is in the workshop manual and from the Gates-branded part I found randomly on eBay - actually I think I might have one in a box, I shall check).

I'll see how it is when it's being driven more - that sort of change would depend on whether I can make it work as-designed or not.

I'm having similar thoughts about aero wipers (I just like that they can never fail in a way that scratches the windscreen without being REALLY obviously broken) and replacing the fixed rear belts for inertia reels. No-one is likely to go in the back but the fixed ones are a proper cats cradle of mess in the back.

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29 minutes ago, RichardK said:

No progress todag but have an engine view.

Having seen the crash test I’ve reduced the spare tyre pressure to 10 psi so it’s more effective as an airbag…

 

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My God, there's no inner wings!!! No wonder the thing wouldn't pass a crash test!!!

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