In Feb 1999 I found myself being driven round the streets of Moscow in a Lada of some sort. My Russian colleague who was behind the wheel continually heaped praise on the vehicle which he had only just acquired it transpired. During the short journey a number of incidents occurred, details of which as follows:

The first thing to go was the manual window winder which slipped its ratchet causing the vehicle to become instantly filled with freezing snow flurries. Soon the snow began to lie on the dashboard and seats.

Later whilst negotiating a roundabout the passenger door flew open for no apparent reason. Fortunately I had fastened the seat-belt after an earlier near miss.

Next the engine started revving at full tilt - again for no apparent reason. The driver hopped out and tinkered with something to fix it.

Finally the radio conked out which was a pity as it had successfully managed to drown out most of the noise caused by the incessant rattling of the various internal components.

The most surprising revelation came later however when the joyful owner (and I kid you not, he was positively beaming with car pride) corrected my assumption that the car was new-to-him and revealed that it was in fact brand new! He indignantly pointed to the 1000km reading on the dash as proof of this.

Fortunately I have never been back to check on his car's progress since. I wonder if time has been kind....