AutosLada's daring leap into Group B racing: From Soviet factories to the global stage

Lada's daring leap into Group B racing: From Soviet factories to the global stage

Łada Samara EVA
Łada Samara EVA
Images source: © Autokult | Tomas Čekanavičius

7:47 PM EDT, April 26, 2024

The competition in Group B was so impressive that every car manufacturer, including the Soviet Lada, wanted to be a part of it. The Samara EVA project eventually achieved moderate success and served as a foundation for another model – the Dakar T3.

The origins of the Samara project and its aim to compete in Group B are somewhat murky, but it's known that the prototype was developed in Tallinn. Here, in a local truck factory, a vehicle dubbed Lada Turbo came to life, which, apart from sharing doors, lights, and front windshield with the front-wheel-drive Samara, bore little resemblance to it.

The Lada Turbo featured a mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. Given the superiority of the quattro system in certain conditions, the Soviet car was inherently at a disadvantage – at least on a technical level. The goal was for the car's weight to be under 2315 pounds.

Originally from the Samara, the engine was upgraded by adding 300 cm3 (approximately 18.3 cubic inches) and outfitting it with a dual overhead camshaft head. Impressively, by integrating turbocharging and fuel injection (a feature that wouldn't appear in production cars until 1996!), the engine could produce around 300 horsepower.

Although details of the project leaked, it wasn't discontinued – it was passed to Lithuanian rally driver Stasys Brundza, who had previously contributed to the construction of the Lada 2105 VTFS. To enter competition, 200 production models had to be manufactured, and against the odds, production began.

Unfortunately, a spate of accidents in Group B led FISA (the forerunner of FIA) to disband this category. Consequently, the car had to be adjusted to fit the requirements of Group S, leading to the creation of the Samara S-Proto.

Surprisingly, the Lada Samara S-Proto participated in the Finland Rally in 1987. However, that was its only appearance. Nevertheless, the experiences gained from developing the EVA were instrumental in creating the Dakar T3 vehicle. But that’s a story for another time.

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