From 1988, ever more stringent emissions regulations sounded the death knell for the two-stroke engine, and for the final three years of its life a four-stroke, 1.3-litre unit from the VW Golf took its place.
Incredibly, in the first years of 353 production a £7 million investment was made by Wartburg to source British parts for all cars made at Eisenach.
Almost 20,000 Knights were sold in Britain
Batteries, horns, tyres and upholstery, including seat fabric, door-card trim and roof linings, were all bought in from the UK.
But a subsequent volte-face by Wartburg, due to the political crackdown by the USSR on its satellite states, meant that after 1968 all materials had to be sourced locally.
‘Our’ car, being only the seventh or eighth example to be sold on these shores, is proudly part-British.
The last of these three to go on sale in the UK is arguably the best known.
The neat Lada’s engineering is unadventurous
Manufactured by VAZ (later AutoVAZ), the 2101, or 1200, started production in 1970 as part of the company’s new brand, Lada (Russian for ‘harmony’).
Built under licence from Fiat, the 1200 took the Italian company’s 124 design and adapted it heavily for use in its home market.
That meant no fewer than 800 changes to the Fiat’s package, the most significant being a swap of engine from Fiat’s ageing overhead-valve 1.2-litre to one developed for VAZ by NAMI (Russia’s Automotive Engine Institute).
While its displacement stayed the same, the bore and stroke dimensions changed and an all-new single-overhead-cam cylinder head was used, ultimately giving the Lada more tuning potential for future motorsport use.
The single-overhead-cam cylinder head was intended to bolster the Lada’s motorsport potential
And, like its compatriots from Moskvich and Wartburg, the Lada was made from a gauge of steel thick enough to survive Russia’s icy, salt laden roads, although it never boasted the last word in rustproofing.