Soviet Lemon Cars 101

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on May 22nd, 2008

ziz-110.jpgThis recent post on the Automobilemag blog made me think that readers would enjoy a little international flavor.  According to the post, this ZIZ 110, currently on sale in Finland was Stalin’s transport.

Pirated from Packard’s 180 sedan (but with a dash of ‘48 Chrysler added to the front fenders), this 110 served as Stalin’s chariot for three years, and may be a great example of Joe’s [Stalin's] love for the Packard.

No clue about the reliability of the ZIZ, but I do know that lada-model-1.jpgmost Soviet-made cars were lemons in the true sense of the word, just there was nobody to complain to, nor was there a lemon law.  Here are a couple most notable ones:

Zhiguli (or Lada, it was called) was made in collaboration between Italy and the Soviet Union in the town of Togliatti, named after an Italian communist Palmiro Togliatti. Originally designed as a “people’s car,” this was a Russian remake of the Fiat 124.  Not known for its reliability, these things were constantly being fixed and tinkered with. I drove one on a recent visit back to Russia – it has the feel of a golf cart.


Mozkvich (meaning Moscow car) was first produced in 1929 in Moscow.  Production of this vehicle was rejuvenated after WWII, because after the war,  the Soviet Union brought an entire Opel manufacturing line from Germany.  Moskvitch cars were never meant to be a fashion statement. They were meant as sturdy, reliable on substandard roads and were offered at an affordable price.  They were not know for being reliable but, with the dearth of options people bought them anyway.

A Slice of Lemon Law – History of Bad Cars…

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on March 12th, 2008


While it doesn’t use the legal definition of an Auto Lemon, TIME Magazine’s “50 Worst Cars of All Time” is an entertaining look at some of the doozies manufactured over the years. 

Chevy CorvetteWhile the Ford Edsel and the notorious Chevrolet Corvair (which Ralph Nader highlighted in “Unsafe at Any Speed”) are obvious entries, others come as a surprise.

For example, TIME tags the Ford Model T, even though its assembly line production process revolutionized the U.S. economy. Noting that the vehicle put Americans on a proverbial crash course to over-dependence on cars, they also witheringly assess the Model T as “a piece of junk, the Yugo of its day.” Ouch!

The list includes the design-challenged AMC Gremlin and the smoking gun that was the Ford Pinto. Saying, “There’s no such thing as a factory hotrod,” the Chevy SSR even makes the list. For anyone who ruefully regrets a lemon car they purchased, TIME’s list is a reminder that “Tin Lizzies” have existed since the invention of the automobile.