Found in the Letterbox

The following are e-mail responses to 'Tales of Toy Cars' and The Breithaupt Miniature Motorcar Museum. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via e-mail

This month the Letterbox offers a change-of-pace. I recently decided that it finally made sense to join an online forum, about which I had heard many good reports. Part of the The Matchbox Collectors Community Hall, created and administered by Mark Curtis, the particular group I follow is hosted by Mac Ragan and focuses on all manufacturers of 1/64th scale diecast. Mac is a noted diecast author and collector with a wonderful enthusiasm for toy cars. We may even see him make story contributions to TofTC before long. To visit the forum, click here.

Below is a copy of recent responses to a question I posed about a rare Russian-made toy car. This will give you a feel for how the forum works. I encourage you to visit for yourself and find out.

Doug (20 posts) Aug-27-01, 05:46 PM (EST)

"Is it a Lada?"

I need some help identifying this model for a story. I think it may be a Lada (copy of Fiat 124 perhaps). The base is in Russian and the maker appears to be 'MEHA'. It is 1:60 scale. Can anyone help?

Doug Breithaupt

Sak (451 posts) Aug-27-01, 06:46 PM (EST)

1. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

Back in the USSR (hmm, sounds like a song!), the car was known as a 'Vaz', Doug. Only the export models were 'Ladas'. On the base, there might be three cyrillic letters that look like the word 'Vaz'. I have an old Soviet 1:43 version fitted out as some kind of government vehicle, in yellow, with a dome light on the roof, and the old USSR globe logo in red on the doors...

Another subliminable message from the Sak Man

Doug (20 posts) Aug-27-01, 08:12 PM (EST)

2. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

The base is not much help. It has the scale, 1:60, the word Meha or perhaps Neha, it's hard to tell, a model number of 2o500 and a logo that looks like a circle with an old-fashioned cloths-pin in the top. The license plate says 2101 GA3 but I don't think that means much. No Vaz in sight but you seem to have better references for this than I do.

Doug Breithaupt

Cyril Wollring (213 posts) Aug-28-01, 12:39 PM (EST)

5. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

Doug, if you can show me the baseplate I might decipher it for you. I can read Russian (and speak it a little). The "3" is the cyrillic Z. It stands for Zavod = factory.

Cyril Wollring (213 posts) Aug-28-01, 12:34 PM (EST)

4. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

Sak, I have the same model. It's a Volga from the Soviet Highway police. The words Militsia (police) and G.A.I. (litteraly State Car Inspection)are printed on it. Nice model in quality and finish. The Volga was a much larger car than the Lada.

Cyril Wollring (213 posts) Aug-28-01, 12:28 PM (EST)

3. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

Yes that is a Lada 2101. The name Lada (little boat) was used for export only. In the USSR they were called Zhiguli Vaz.

ChFalkensteiner (780 posts) Aug-28-01, 01:25 PM (EST)

6. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

Correct; 2101 was the model number of the very first Shiguli or Lada. That one looked almost identical to the Fiat 124. Later models were allocated consecutive numbers; the current one is called 2110. "VAZ" is the name of the factory, which I think stands for "Volga Automobile Works". The city where it is located is called Togliatti, named after some Italian Communist politician, if I remember correctly. In cyrillic letters, "VAZ" looks like "BA3".


Doug (20 posts) Aug-28-01, 01:34 PM (EST)

7. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

So the license plate is the best clue. The plate must read '2101 BA3'. Thanks for the help on this.

Doug Breithaupt

8. "RE: Is it a Lada?"

Yes, Christian's right...that does spell 'Vaz'. BTW...I was wondering what kind of a govt vehicle this 1:43 was, after having it for ten years...the picture box it came in was a mix of English and Russian, and it was refered to as a 'Lada' in English...

Another subliminable message from the Sak Man