Lada was officially sold in Canada from 1979 until 1998, and the Samara model (available as a sedan, 3- and 5-door hatchbacks) had moderate success, thanks to the rugged engines and simple yet durable construction. They are getting very difficult to find, even in good shape, which is why I posted this one online before putting it in the yard for parts. I had a few inquiries but nothing concrete, so I decided to put it out in the yard up on stands and see what parts would sell.
We exchanged messages back and forth as he asked for more information and pictures. I was able to pull off the timing belt cover and managed to free up the engine which at first appeared seized. Despite big holes in the floor, no back window, a cracked dash and an overall rough condition, he was determined to buy it. After a few more exchanges he booked last Friday off and hit the road. The 1300 kms he had to travel didn't daunt him, as he had traveled even further to Montreal for a Lada Niva 4x4 a few years back. I liked him before I met him!
When the rear wheels were finally (yet barely!) on the ramps, I was able to lift up with the forks on the loader and line the car up with the trailer floor so it could be winched fully onto the trailer. With a few adjustments and some secure strapping down, the trusty, rusty Lada was ready for its long journey! The crisp, snowy morning and noticeable accents of the two gentleman along with the 'Sputnik' (as the Samara was known in its home market) up on the trailer made me feel like I had been transported halfway around the world to Russia. This is when I started to realise just how deep I was into this affair...
I think in the end this is simply a story of an old car fan like myself, one that appreciates less-common models that are simple to repair and get odd stares and smiles from people on the road. I wished Alex and Eli a safe trip and told them to bring the car back up next summer once it's on the road! Just before they left I pulled out the original Samara Owner's Handbook that I had found in the car. It was a bit weathered but it was a nice little addition that makes the car that much more complete.