New car, greener household

So I bought a new car. The Lada was starting to give me a little bit of grief, and to be honest, it was not particularly easy on the fuel. I nevertheless miss its Soviet goodness on my driveway, and it was certainly a car that created plenty of amazed onlookers. The happiest were always gentlemen of a certain age with an East European accent, who would come up to me and say ‘Why do you drive this piece of shit?’ but then proceed to have a look around it and a certain romantic look would appear on their faces, and a soft ‘I used to drive one of those in the eighties, never let me down’, and they would make cooing noises when looking inside and admiring the communist dashboard chic.

The gentlemen from the dealership that sold me my new car had a similar response: seconds after I abandoned Ivor (that was the Lada’s name) on their courtyard a gaggle of mechanics gathered around it, popped the bonnet and made excited sounds.

What did I get? Well, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, I wanted the car to be a 5 door hatch and it was supposed to be as frugal as possible. Enter the Suzuki Alto, a small, reasonably priced hatchback that had moderately good reviews all over the web. It’s made in India by Maruti but nevertheless has a good track record for built quality. The price was definitely competitive: 6800 pounds for the whole shebang, including the more expensive paint job.

So, what do you get for the money? Well, its build quality is inferior to the Kia Picanto (our last hatch), but then the new Picanto is 1500 pounds more expensive. The doors and the rear hatch certainly lack that ‘heavy’ quality feel that the KIA (yes, I know, it’s funny) and the interior seems smaller and certainly doesn’t have the finesse of the Picanto, but:

the drive is fun, it’s quick of the mark, it certainly is great on country roads (where it will mostly reside), the stereo is excellent and it looks quite cute. The best girlfriend ever is certainly happy to pass the Jimny over to me (not quick enough, she says) and I’m happy that I have a small and reliable 4WD to take me to the station in the morning.

But I will miss my Lada.

The Lada Owners Club UK. F.A.B.!

I am a member of a dying breed: the car that takes me around Mid-Essex is a Lada, making me a Lada driver. There’s not that many of us out there, and most people haven’t seen a nice a Lada in yonkers. Mine is an especially nice one, thanks to the care and love by its previous owner who took it all around Britain, pulling a caravan. Apparently it made it without any problems numerous times to the Highlands and back and so far I have not encountered any problems either. Ok, it’s carburator is a bit iffy and after getting warm it has a tendency to have some problems in the lower rpms, but for problems like this you have the Lada Club UK. Around since 1978, it has catered for any aspect of the Lada community and now has me as a new member. Just like Lada drivers Lada Owners Club members are getting fewer and fewer, but how could you not want to be in a club that for just a few bob per year gives you all this:

Now look at this. Where else do you get four spiffing magazines, a sticker for your car, a membership card AND the added bonus of being able to access the hive mind of dozens and dozens of fellow Lada drivers.

Go, join the club. Even if you don’t drive a Lada. It will do you good.

BTW, you wouldn’t have a carburator for an 1.5 Riva handy?