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Car parts and parking spots: why the Soviet-made Lada made news in 1980

Owners in Ontario were forbidden from certain parking spots in 1980, but in Nova Scotia Lada drivers were unconcerned about getting new parts.

Boycott seemed possible after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Soviet-made Lada sells well in Nova Scotia

Digital Archives

41 years ago
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Lada owners are unconcerned about the possibility of a boycott on Soviet-made goods in the wake of the country's invasion of Afghanistan. 1:28

If you drove a Lada and worked at Husky in Bolton, Ont., it was best to drive on if you wanted a spot in the company lot.

"I think we made the right decision in doing something about the Russian invasion," said Husky president Robert Schad in April 1980.

Just days earlier, Canada had joined a boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow. It was a response to the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union the previous December.

As Stan Johnson reported for the CBC Halifax program Newsday, a potential boycott of the Soviet car maker was the subject of speculation and not much more.

No slide in sales

Lada sales at a Dartmouth dealership continued strong in April 1980, according to reporter Stan Johnson. (Newsday/CBC Archives)

In nearby Dartmouth, N.S., a Lada dealer said he had sold about 300 of the cars in the past year, and sales continued strong. said Johnson.

Johnson said the dealer had told him people "talk about parts problems in the event of a boycott."

But there was no real problem: a distributor in Ajax, Ont., had $4 million worth of parts in its plant.

"He also says the Russian cars are now exported to 57 countries, and parts would always be available from one of them," said Johnson.

'Lots of parts'

Lada owner Keith Miffland said his research on the availability of parts for the Soviet-made cars meant he was "not worried." (Newsday/CBC Archives)

Keith Mifflin, who was picking up his new Lada at the dealer, was among the owners who felt "confident" there would always be parts for their Ladas.

"Apparently they've got every part here that I need," said Mifflin, as a woman waited in the car behind him. "Otherwise ... they have lots of parts in Ontario too."

Johnson asked Mifflin if he was concerned about the "political situation," but Mifflin said he didn't really know much about it.

A Toronto-area business owner had taken steps to register his dislike of Soviet-made automobiles. (Newsday/CBC Archives)

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