Sunday, July 13, 2008

You Are What You Drive

From the Economist, a review of Cars for Comrades, a survey of the auto industry in the old USSR.

THEY were the butt of jokes in the West. (“How do you double a
Lada’s value? Fill up the tank”). Inside the Soviet Union, however, the quantity and quality of the cars it produced epitomised both the system’s failure and the capitalist world’s advantage....

The Lada was an obsolete Fiat, produced at the Togliatti factory south-east of Moscow: bought new, it required extensive repair in order to become roadworthy. Soon after that it would start rusting. Getting it serviced was a nightmarish process involving long waits, the use of personal favours, and unpleasant discoveries (light-fingered mechanics would steal scarce items such as the wing mirrors or windscreen wipers).

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