In 1982, the vast majority of the USSR’s general population didn’t own a car. An automobile was considered a genuine luxury thanks to the high cost and the waiting lists. I’m not talking about waiting lists for something like a Mercedes, Porsche, or perhaps even a Cadillac. I’m talking about a waiting list for just a car that one could drive to work every day.
Into this void steps this 1982 VAZ 21033. This is a car that cost almost 5 times an average factory worker’s salary in 1982. It can count among its features a radio (optional and very expensive to buy), an overhead valve engine, thick metal in the fenders, and even a hand starter to make sure the car would start up during Russia’s genuinely fearful winters. The VAZ wasn’t a particularly glamorous car, but this particular one has a great history. It was originally won for 1 ruble in a lottery in 1982, then spent the next thirty years under wraps, until the owner’s grandmother purchased it and helped ship it to the United States, where it lives today.
The owner, Roman, is very proud of his work (he restored this car himself) and his hard work paid off on Concours Sunday at Greenwich, when the little VAZ-21033 won the Best Special Interest Car award, beating out a Russian Volga, a rather straight Volvo 262C, and a very clean 1984 Toyota Supra. Congratulations on your award, Roman–the VAZ looked excellent in the strong June sun. Enjoy the photos.
-Albert S. Davis