That from the early eighties until 1997, you could buy a brand new Lada in Canada.

If a Lada was too dull for you, for a while you could also get a rear-engined Skoda. Straight out of the fifties.

And if you were a bit weird, you could have a Dacia. Also in ute form.

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And then, if you were a bit boring, you could have a Yugo, which was a thing the Americans could have as well.

Of course, Hyundai came about in the mid-eighties, and come the nineties had messed up everything for the former Eastern Bloc. It really doesn’t help that some of the cars Lada was sending to Canada were absolutely appallingly put together, such as the Signet (Canadian-market name for the Riva)‘s Samara-based replacement, the Sagona.

I’ve never seen one. There’s probably a reason why.

These days, if you want a cheap bare bones car in Canada, your choice is between the Mexican-Japanese Nissan Micra, the Korean Chevrolet Spark, and the godawful Thai Mitsubishi Mirage. And soon, I’m pretty sure we’ll have Chinese manufacturers like Chery and FAW selling cheap and scary Communist runabouts. Just like old times.