Under the original agreement with Fiat, the car could not be sold in competition with the 124 until its replacement (the Fiat 131 Mirafiori) had been released and all Fiat production of the 124 had ceased.
Engines fitted to the original Ladas start with the 1.2 L carubretted in the original and go up to the 1.7 L export model set up with a General Motors single point fuel injection system.
Diesel engines were later fitted for the domestic market only.
The VAZ factory is the largest car manufacturer in Russia and Eastern Europe It was set up as a collaboration between Italy and the Soviet Union and built on the banks of the Volga River in 1966.
A new town, Tolyatti, named after the Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti, was built around the factory.
The Lada was envisaged as a "people's car" like the Citroën 2CV or the VW Type 1.
Production was intended to be 220,000 cars a year, beginning in 1971; car production actually began before the plant was finished in 1970.
Among many changes, aluminium brake drums were added to the rear, and the original Fiat engine was dropped in favour of a newer design also purchased from Fiat.
This new engine had a modern overhead camshaft design, but was never used in Fiat cars.The suspension was raised to clear rough Russian roads and the bodyshell was made from thicker, heavier steel.The first Lada models were equipped with a starting handle in case the battery went flat in Siberian conditions, though this was later dropped.Another feature specifically intended to help out in cold conditions was a manual auxiliary fuel pump.About 22,000 VAZ-2101s were built in 1970, with capacity at the end of 1973 reaching 660,000 a year; 21 December, the one millionth 2101 was built.Exports to the West began in 1974; Ladas were sold as in several Western nations during the 1970s and 1980s, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, though trade sanctions banned their export to the United States.