What do you do when you have a soft spot for your country’s domestic auto brand, but JDM-style stance is life? That’s a question Maks Yakushkin has answered with his Lada 2108 build.
In the city of Yekaterinburg, situated east of the Ural Mountains, Maks has laboured away on his Lada for the past eight years. But when he picked up the car in 2012, he didn’t have plans to modify it at all.
“This car is my first, and I bought it just to drive,” says Maks. “It was a standard Lada in excellent condition. I looked at many cars with my father, but I did not like them. When I saw this one, I knew that it should be mine.”
A year after his purchase, the internet introduced Maks to stance culture, and his interest was immediately piqued. He asked himself whether his humble three-door hatchback could be modified in such a way, and we’re pleased he did because the result is pretty spectacular.
Of course, modifying your car is made a lot easier when it’s a popular platform and you’ve got direct access to parts, but that was not the case for Maks. What he couldn’t find or create himself in Russia, needed to be purchased from overseas, and staying true to his goal of “building a Russian car with notes of Japan,” he turned to the Land of the Rising Sun for many of the parts that have helped transform his 2108.
As far as the car’s outward appearance goes, the wheels – custom-barrelled and refinished Enkei Decem10s with suitably-stretched tires – are the standout. “I found these Enkeis by accident,” says Maks. “They were 15×8-inch but I wanted wider wheels, so they were cut and precisely welded to 15×10-inch. To fit them [the wheels are obviously 6-stud and the 2108 has 4-stud hubs] we are using aluminum adaptors. The custom center covers I designed are also aluminum.”
Running such wide wheels on a narrow car obviously required some body modifications, and for this aspect of the build Maks added 70mm bolt-on overfenders at all four corners for millimeter-perfect fitment when the suspension’s at its lowest (more on this in a moment).
Otherwise, a subtle custom front lip, rear ducktail spoiler, and some custom twin exhaust tailpipes were all that was needed to pull the whole aesthetic together.
Despite the 2108’s original four-cylinder engine still living under the hood, Maks hasn’t shied away from applying a race theme to the Lada’s interior. In here you’ll find a custom half-cage (necessitating a rear seat delete), and old school Cobra seats with LRF harnesses. JDM touches come by the way of a Nardi Classic steering wheel and Razo shift knob.
The three aftermarket gauges present aren’t performance related though; they’re for the custom air-ride system that Maks has pieced together for his Lada. “I bought each part separately and installed it with friends,” he says. “I made the shock absorbers according to my own drawings, and redid everything several times to achieve a low and hard ride. The air suspension is controlled by buttons and guided by Viair and Air Lift Performance pressure gauges.”
Of course, there’s only so far air ride can take you when you want to go really low as Maks has, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that a lot more work has gone on to achieve the Lada’s slammed stance. “To really ride a Lada 2108 low, it’s necessary to alter parts of the body and raise the engine and gearbox,” Maks explained. “We also had to move the suspension arm mounts up, move the front suspension ball joints, and move the rear suspension beam, along with other work.”
It’s easy to look at a car like Maks’ Lada as a simple showpiece, but that’s not the case in this instance. Since completion it’s been driven all over the place, Maks’ longest trip to a car event stretching a whopping 7,000km (4,350mi). That was in 2017 and the Enkeis were swapped out so as not to damage them on some bad roads, but a year later Maks took the 2108 on a 4,100km (2,550mi) road trip around central Russia as you see it here (but obviously not aired out).
If you’re like me, you might be wondering how the car is road legal, but to that Maks simply says it’s not. “You are forbidden to drive a car like this in Russia, but I still do. The police are interested in my car, and they often take a photo as a souvenir. I tell them about my long journeys, and thanks to this I have yet to be punished. Unfortunately, the laws are constantly being updated, so it’s not known what will happen in the future.”
But even when he wasn’t yet driving the car in its stance state, it provided a source of great enjoyment, with Maks’ friends all lending a hand when required. “Most of the work takes place in the winter when there are no festivals happening. My friends help me prepare the car for the new season in a cold garage, so I am very grateful for their help. Without them, I would not have succeeded.”
Maks’ 2108 has picked up many awards in Russia, and to that he says that knowing people enjoy what he’s created motivates him to continue. So are there more plans? “I really don’t like talking about plans; I like doing it first and then talking about it,” he says. “But my imagination has no limit, and there are things I’d like to do and places I’d like to travel to with the car. I hope everything will work out, because I really love what I do.”
Photography by Zheker Savin
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