I was talking with my old man today when he told me something I never new about. Lada's where sold new here in Canada from 1979 up until 1998. I'm old enough to remember 1998 very vividly and the only Lada I ever remember seeing in Canada is the Lada Niva and I tough it was something that someone imported straight from Russia(or back then the U.S.S.R.). I was born in 1985 and being a car guy from a very young age you would think I would know this. So I decided to do some digging.
Lada first started importing cars in 1979. The first car to be imported into Canada was the Lada Signet known in other parts of the world as the 2106.
The Lada Signet was powered by a RWD 75hp 1500cc 4 cylinder. The Signet had quite the slogan "At $4,998 no other car in Canada comes with so much and sells for so little." That's right! At the time the Signet was the cheapest car you could buy in Canada.
Later on in the mid 80's Lada started importing the ever famous Niva the compact 4x4 that is still sold brand new today in Europe and Russia.
The Niva was powered by a 1.6L 4 banger and was quite the capable offroader due to its low weight,steep departure angles and high ground clearance.
The Niva was a relatively strong seller in Canada, selling over 12,000 units in the first year and kept being a decent seller moving roughly 12,000 units a year up until the mid 90's. According to my old man they were about $8000-$9000 brand new (I was unable to confirm this).
The Signet and Niva eventually were joined in Canada by a new compact car, the Samara. You could get the Samara as a sedan or your choice of a 3 or 5 door hatch.
The Samara was powered by a 75hp 1,499cc 4cyl powering the front wheels. The motor in the Samara was very special because what most people don't know is that the motor was developed by Porsche! (Not really. The head was developed in co-operation with Porsche, though most Western observers assumed Porsche's involvement went beyond just engines)
Lada sold cars(I'm assuming from peoples backyards) until 1998 when it could no longer compete with the low cost cars from Korea and finally pulled the plug.
I still find it strange that I have never once seen a dealership or any other cars other than the occasional Niva. I'm originally from a small hick town in southern New-Brunswick where everybody went nuts for very cheap cars. I grew up around Hyundai pony's but no Lada's? I'm even surprised we did not own a Lada in our family as my dad is extremely cheap and this would of been right up his alley.