The Lada Legend – A Series of Unfortunate Events

MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2010
The Lada Legend – A Series of Unfortunate Events
What happens when you ignore your oil light because you think the gauge is being shorted and then continue to drive the car? Read on to find out.

Amy (one of the Lada investors) and I were on our way to Xirdalan Friday morning. Right after going into the tunnel and up a gentle incline, things start to go south. All sorts of noises start coming from the engine—the kind of noises that you can’t drown out by turning the radio up, and pressing the gas pedal produced nothing in the way of acceleration. We were losing speed fast. The best we could do was will our Lada over the rise so that we could coast down the hill to a safe spot on the side of the road. For about ten seconds, images of being stuck in a tunnel flashed through my mind. None of them were pretty.

In a testament to the Lada and its ever-growing legend, it got us over the hill. As we slowed and pulled onto the shoulder, the engine seized, and the poor car was rendered useless. Why did bad things always happen to us when we went to Xirdalan?

But this was only the start of the comedy of errors. After much deliberating, we called a friend of ours to see if he wanted to come out and have some fun towing our car with a rope. He was ready and willing except for one small problem: his Lada Niva wouldn’t start. Battery problems, no less. He then told us he would give us the number to a tow truck. What followed borders on the bizarre. In his words:

After I talked to you but before my phone died, I called my office manager trying to reach her. I didn’t get through so I sent a quick text, “Have a minor emergency and could use some help. Please call me ASAP.” Then my phone died. For whatever reason she couldn’t reach me and jumped to the conclusion that I had been kidnapped. She relayed this to my staff, and when I came running into the office the assumption was that I had “escaped”. I still can’t understand the logic.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Eventually we got the number, called the tow truck, and then sat there for the better part of an hour waiting. All of a sudden the driver called. Here is an excerpt from Amy’s conversation with him:

“Where are you? I can’t see you.”
”We are in a yellow Lada on the side of the road right before the turnoff to the bus station.”
”I just went by there but all I could see was a yellow zhiguli.”
”Ya, that’s us!”
”That isn’t a Lada. Were you with a boy? Does the boy speak?”
”No, the boy doesn’t speak.”

The driver then suggested that we let the car coast down the hill towards him. We weren’t interested in that, so eventually he relented and decided to back up against traffic to where we were.

With our car on the back of the truck and Amy and I in the front seat of the truck, we made our way to the mechanic in Xirdalan. The first question the driver had was why on earth we had bought a car like that? His second question was do you want to buy a Volga from me for three-thousand five-hundred dollars? “You’ll look really cool in it. Everyone will be so surprised to see you drive by.” Great.

The mechanics were happy to see us. Whether it was because it meant more money or because they were actually surprised that the car had lasted this long is anyone’s guess. They told us to call in a couple of hours to get the prognosis from the engine guy.

On the bus back to Baku, Amy got a phone call that no one wants to get from a neighbour. “Hi Amy, there is water leaking into our apartment.” Uh oh. That’s never a good sign. We rushed home as fast as we could to check the damage. As it turned out, while water had been overflowing in the bathroom for the better part of two hours, there was very little damage to the apartments below. Relieved, Amy and I went our separate ways to work. It was only 10:45 AM.

The final prognosis was that the engine was toast and needed to be rebuilt. That is happening as we speak, but at a different place (it involved a night time Lada tow from Xirdalan to Baku). We should be good to go on Wednesday.

posted by kent @ 4:16 AM 2 comments
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