What do you call a Lada at the top of a hill? A miracle! What is the use of the heated rear window on a Lada? To keep your hands warm as you are push it! How do you double a Lada's value? Fill it with fuel!
They are jokes that have helped shape a generation over the last decade, still producing a chuckle even today, despite the fact that the Russian manufacturer has not graced our shores with its presence for well over a decade.
Indeed, when children cannot point out a Lada in a car park yet still have a clear grasp of their reputation once their name is uttered, it is fair to say that you have an image problem – a big one!
However, it is very possible that the joke could soon be on us as Lada are making a comeback onto the global stage by surprisingly submitting an entry to compete in the World Touring Car Championship. On top of that, there is a sense of quiet confidence by those in the know as well that this will not be the disaster many are forecasting.
Far from being the financially starved relic of the former Soviet Union, Lada are far better positioned than many European manufacturers, having monopolised the Russian market, as well as maintained a foothold in the burgeoning Eastern Europe.
Now is the turn of Western Europe which, with the distant help of General Motors, could see Lada back on our roads quicker than you may care to believe with cars that have indeed taken an upturn in quality the past couple of years.
The WTCC fits perfectly with this strategy – a global showcase for a new Lada and their parent company AutoVaz. This is the chance for the manufacturer to demand that they be taken seriously and to show the world that they are no longer a joke.
While the idea of a Lada tussling with a BMW or an Alfa Romeo may take a significant amount of imagination, Lada have genuine confidence that they will have the ability to embarrass their more established and respected rivals.
Their expectations make for compelling reading - “It is probably not worth kidding ourselves that we will win immediately. But nonetheless, we have a realistic chance, even a very good chance (of winning),” Alexander Nikonenko, AutoVaz's head of sports competition told Reuters.