That's a Lada disappointment: barn find Niva falls flat at auction
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Lada has long been the butt of motoring jokes (our top five of which is below), and there's another one to add to the lengthy list of knee-slappers.
The latest rib-tickler comes in the form of a 1979 Lada Niva rally car that competed in the gruelling Paris to Dakar race and was put up for sale at one of the most prestigious UK auctions of the year.
RM Sotheby's had estimated that the battered Russian bruiser would sell for between £50,000 and £75,000 (NZ$100,000 and NZ$150,000). But when the hammer did come down on Monday evening it changed hands for a far smaller figure than experts had predicted - just £4,600 - as it's no reserve sale backfired.
And it wasn't the only case of off-target estimations at the vintage car auction ...
The Lada Niva was one of the 105 lots available at the auction house's London sale in Battersea. It's one of the biggest classic car sales of the year in the UK.
Vehicles available for bidding included a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT that featured in The Wrong Arm of the Law starring Peter Sellars, Rod Stewart's former 1971 Lamborghini Miura and a go-kart driven by the late Ayrton Senna in 1994 - the year he tragically died.
But despite the variety of high-value motors expected to be bought for seven-figure sums, it was the comical Lada that stole much of the pre-event headlines - mainly because of the extortionately high estimation figure.
Unfortunately for the seller, the Lada wasn't quite held in the same esteem by the deep-pocketed collectors in the auction room. When the hammer dropped, the winning bid was a relatively meagre £4,600 including premium charges. That's £70,400 short of the higher estimate. Just six per cent of what experts believed it would sell for.
The 4x4 Lada Niva has gained cult status in recent years and is considered a cut above the boxy saloons that the firm also made.
Ahead of the sale, Felix Archer, car specialist at RM Sotheby's, said the 'plucky' Lada had led an 'undeniably fascinating' life, namely its entry - though failure to finish - the 1981 Paris-Dakar Rally.
'The transnational race is renowned as gruelling and tough, which speaks volumes for the character and resilience of this small 4x4 that took on one of the hardest racing events in the world, all the more challenging under older race rules,' he said.
'In the car's current state, it's almost untouched since its participation in the Paris-Dakar race.'
RM Sotheby's auction listing added: 'If the Paris-Dakar rally was a Goliath of an event, this Lada was its David, facing seemingly impossible odds in one of motorsport's most gruelling events, where one of its brethren finished third.'
Thought it wasn't the only disappointment from the sale.
The previously mentioned Aston Martin DB4 driven by Peter Sellers and Rod Stewart's beautiful Lamborghini Miura both failed to sell, as did a 1967 Lamborghini 400GT that was reportedly first owned by Paul McCartney.
Another car previously kept by the former Beatles member did sell earlier in the month - a Radford-modified sixties Mini achieved £182,000 at the Auburn Auction held by Worldwide Auctioneers on Saturday 1 September.
Back in London, Ayrton Senna's go-kart - also offered without reserve - sold for just £12,000.
That's some way short of the £50,000 to £70,000 estimate placed on it. Still, that's three times what the Lada changed hands for.
There were some big-money movers of the night, including a Ferrari Enzo sold for £1.97million and a 1953 Ferrari 212 Europa which made £1.01million.
Five of the best Lada jokes, just because
1. What do you call a convertible Lada? A skip.
2. What do you call a convertible Lada with two exhausts? A wheelbarrow.
3. What do you call a Lada at the top of a hill? A miracle.
4. What's the difference between a Lada and a golf ball? You can drive a golf ball 200 yards.
5. What do you call a Lada owner who claims to have received a speeding ticket? A liar.
- Daily Mail