Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Lada Legend: How a Legend Was Born - A Final Farewell

It seems so long ago that first I saw the yellow Zhiguli that became "The Colonel" parked on the sidewalk near my office. I remember thinking at the time, "I'm going to own that car. I don't know how or when, but I'm going to do it." There was just something about it.

When, on September 15th of this year, I went back to the street in Split, Croatia where we had said our final farewells to the old boy, I have to admit that it was quite sad to not find the Colonel where we left it. Not that this was a big surprise, but to speculate on what had become of it conjured up images of wrecking yards and police impound lots--two places the Colonel was already rather familiar with.

Emotions aside, we had a great run. In its 18 months of operation, the Colonel brought us to more places and got us into more situations than we ever thought possible. From the day we first took ownership and subsequently ran out of gas, to the time the engine seized in a tunnel, to that first hundred kilometre trip, to the video, to the thousand kilometre odyssey with the travelling band of misfits, to the theft, to the four-thousand kilometre epic voyage to Europe. What would we have done without it?

The real point of this piece is to recognize all the people that helped out along the way. Without these people, there is now way we would have been able to have that much fun. I will do my best to name them all.

Ilham - for being there whenever we needed. Without you, I don't think the Colonel would've made it anywhere. You were tireless in your efforts and all of the Lada owners, past and previous, sincerely thank you.

Arif - he is an engine magician. How he kept the Colonel running so smoothly, I will never know. I honestly want to buy another Soviet car just so he can rebuild the engine.

Akif - our mechanic. His work at the beginning really set us on our way. You don't realize how important brakes are until you don't have them.

Sulduz - our electrician. He kept our starter, lights, and windshield wipers functioning.

The Alignment guys - for keeping the car running straight (well, sort of)

Sheki mechanics - for patching up our muffler

The guy that told us to wrap a wet cloth over the fuel pump to prevent vapor look - for providing us with this knowledge so we didn't have to push the car into Bulgaria

Qobustan tire guys - for changing our flat tire

Anyone that ever helped us bump-start the car - After watching you do it numerous times, we finally figured out how to do it on our own

Yasamal Police - for finding the car after it was stolen

Ilham the Welder - for attaching the stylish, black front-right panel

Car wash guys - for making the car look brand new for the few minutes before we made a mess of it

Kyle and Leyla - for asking the Colonel to be their official wedding car

The Haters - for making us want to prove you wrong, time after time

Lil' Henny, Rolls Joyce, Gulshizzle, and Martin - for making the video a reality

The 346 Facebook Fans - for supporting us no matter what state the Colonel was in

Anyone who ever rode in the car - for loving every minute of it (I hope)

The Border Patrol People from here to Croatia - for letting us cross your borders unhindered

The magic usta in Rize, Turkey - for fixing a troublesome starting problem

The mechanics in Plovdiv, Bulgaria - for keeping us going after our slave clutch pump rendered our clutch pedal flacid

The City of Split - for being the world's newest pilgrimage city

and finally...

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - for building a car with as much street cred and badass-ness as a 1980 VAZ-21011 Zhiguli.

The one we called "The Colonel."