Kitty is a 1979 (yep, 3 years older than me) Lada 2103 and it runs like a…well it runs ok, it is a Lada after all but it is in pretty damn good condition for its age. I suspect you may some questions…the name perhaps, where did it come from? And then of course there is the question that we are most frequently asked “Why the f*** do you want to drive across Europe in a LADA!?”
I'll answer the first question with the help of these visual aids:
|all 3 pictures from wikipedia|
- One of my all-time favourite albums by one of my all-time favourite artists, and really the title matches with the lada perfectly. The Lada has a bit of a reputation for being…well, junk but it is fantastically retro so it certainly has the KITSCH part in the bag. The SOVIET is obvious, inside Kitty there are little reminders everywhere, under the bonnet and over the dashboard all the text is Cyrillic.
- I don’t think I need to comment – this is a car with personality.
- Ernö has 2 great loves in his life at the moment; cats (kitties) and our car (Kitty). We saw 10 cats, including 3 little kittens in the synagogue garden today and was squealing and giggling with joy.
As for the “why a Lada?”, well there are so many reasons why:
We borrowed a big people carrier type car to drive to Hungary in, it was fairly new (at least relative to our car) but before we even started, the air conditioning broke. I am not precious, I can live without air conditioning, however the air conditioning was connected to the built in fridge-cooler-thingy in the dashboard, which was connected to the water in other parts of the car. As a result of all this interconnectedness, water was leaking out of the cooler all over the car floor. We had to get it fixed which cost us 200€ before we had even left Oulu. Ladas don’t have fancy gadgets – fewer bits means fewer things to break. Actually I don’t think Kitty has any air conditioning (besides winding the window down).
Ladas have a bit of a bad rep (in the UK at least) for being rubbish, breaking down and falling apart. I remember when I was 13 in our English class we had to give a presentation; (the topic was free but we had to include visual aids) one of my classmates gave her presentation on her mum’s Lada, the visual being the door that had fallen off on the way to school that morning. Yet despite the reputation, there are still hundreds (thousands even) of Ladas still on the roads here in Hungary. The new car we drove here in on the other hand is unfit for another trip across Europe. Ladas were built to last - not with planned obsolescence like newer cars. On top of this because they are sturdy and simple, if it does break down Ladas are easy to fix.
Gábor and I were pretty uncertain about taking the step to become car owners, we have been pretty critical of car users and producers in the past and both agreed that new cars are not for us, no matter how “eco” they claim to be. There is very little that is eco about manufacturing processes of the ever increasingly gadgety cars. Ladas have already paid their dues when it comes to carbon footprint from manufacturing.
I guess there may also be some people wondering about our route but I will write about that later…the plan still needs a little more planning.