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Lada Niva. He just did it

Lada Niva
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Be bought. Stay whole. His men are in the field. He did it all and without a fuss. And especially without luxury.

Luxury? Njet
Because that was not necessary for anything. Luxury was a pernicious pleasure for thoroughly spoiled Westerners who were no longer at the center of their strength due to a speed bump or large curb. Or something. But on the taigas you don't need a perfectly balanced chassis. It just had to stay whole and sand over a rocky point. That was fine with the Niva.

The most wonderful device was born in 1977 as AutoVaz's first model that was designed and developed in-house. Previously, the Russians maintained close ties with Italy and adapted Fiat's successful 124 to their own harsh conditions and, in one effort, to dislike the soft pamper that was called luxury and comfort. Those tires, by the way, continued to exist, but their Vaz-2121 devised and built them according to their own no-nonsense principle.

That resulted in a small 4 × 4 with distinctive proportions. It was not a clumsy executioner of 3 tons of clean on the hook, but a modest mid-sized car on a sturdy chassis with large wheels. Like a toddler in his father's mountain boots, always smiling. Only this was not to be ridiculed. The Lada Niva did well in the field and remained in control of many a macho machine. Its small dimensions and limited weight were a major advantage off the beaten track. And there was a lot of it in his huge homeland.

A small success
The Vaz-2121 became an instant success there. But on the rest of the planet, the bony Slavic soon became popular. As Lada Niva, Bushman, 4 × 4, Cossack, Job or Fora, he was in the price lists worldwide. With the Icelanders even affectionately as Lada Sport, used as they were adapted to their own hand, and therefore quite out of control four-wheel drivers. This little Russian stood out sharply, with its three-door body and modest dimensions. The design was extremely simple, it is likely that there were even more urgent appointments in the agenda of designer Valery Pavlovitch that day. On the way out, he quickly added the forgotten city lights and direction indicators to the front.

At least it seemed that way, but everyone was satisfied with it and called it an own face or thought it was progressive. The latter applied much less to technology: under the hood was the well-known 1.6 liter gasoline engine that was bolted in the then top model from Togliattigrad, the, yes, Lada 1600. The jolly marketers also apparently sometimes had a daddy day. 78 horsepower found their way to all four wheels, up to 1985 through a four-speed gearbox. From that year on, five oppositions were available. The rest of the technology remained unchanged from independent wheel suspension with coil springs, front brake discs and rear drums with permanent all-wheel drive. If you dared, you could get a dizzying 130 km / h with it. Or just launched for that, a bit dependent on the pit depths. In 1993 there was a farewell to the carburization era and the Lada Niva got an 1.7 liter injection engine in the front, again a gasoline variant. That provided 6 hp more. A 1996 liter PSA diesel version has also been available for a short time from 1.9, reducing the power to 64 hp. You shouldn't have been in a hurry with your Lada Niva. Thick skin and a good deal of perspective, preferably again.

Cult status

Your choice for this brand and model was regularly and unsolicited commented. Whether you were there or not. And sometimes something broke, the build quality was sad. There was not much to it and it usually didn't last long. But with some simple tools and cheap parts, repairs were simple and the Lada Niva lasted a long time. Long enough to grow into an outright cult car. Up to the present day.

Even a brand new drive is possible, they are still being built. We knew the Lada Niva as a short three-door variant, but it was available in many different versions in his home country. Among other things, a long three or five door version, but also a pickup with single or double cab was possible. Countless accidental drink organs were transported in a Niva ambulance and many a rally driver were laughed at at the start and then applauded with surprise after the finish in his Lada Niva rally cannon. The characterful thing could do anything. He just did it.

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2 Comments

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  1. Worked at Suzuki in the late 80.
    We exchanged a Lada and had several in maintenance.
    The Niva could never trade in, those riders were loyal to their brand.
    We had the LJ80, SJ410 / 413, no idea which one was better in terrain, but think they were similar.
    Advantage of the Suzuki's could be switchable 4WD.
    Qualitatively, the Suzuki's were fine, except for some rusty, but they often came from the islands.
    Was there also high / low gearing on the Niva?
    Unfortunately, this is not mentioned in the beautiful and good piece about the Niva

  2. Great 4 × 4! As an off-road vehicle (tje) surprising, at least for those who did not know him, if you were familiar with it you were not surprised anymore because he just did what you wanted and it remained intact. Comfort was hard to find, but I visited many countries with it and usually on B-roads and unpaved, been a member of the Lada Niva Club for years and had a lot of fun with these 2 newly purchased copies, one was sold to Doctors without Borders , the other sold by the dealer immediately after trade-in. After that I had a few more expensive to very expensive off-road vehicles, but I think back to the Ladas with the greatest pleasure.

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