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Old 13 Apr 2007
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Lada Niva info

The Lada Niva seems like a slightly uncomfortable but tough little 4x4.
Though I cannot say as I havent driven one. All I know for sure is that they are dead cheap. So...

Any experiences with the Lada Niva?
How reliable are they for overlanding?
Pros and cons?
Ways to improve it?
Links to relevant websites?

All inputs will be appreciated. Thanks!
RTW 2005-2007
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Old 13 Apr 2007
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They are:
though, simple to fix and maintain, capable but not as good in load carrying as others, thearsty.

Spares are an issue except for europe/ eastern europe and ex soviet countries.

Beware of abused cars. Being cheap they are often trashed about and not maintained very well.

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Old 13 Apr 2007
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I heard somewhere that it is the worst car in "crash-test".
While I don't remember the source of this info, I wouldn't be surprise if it were true.
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Old 14 Apr 2007
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A mate of mine used to have one, quite numble really, no mega-axle travel to speak of (compared to a 90) but not bad.

lots of bushes though, IIRC the independant front setup was a bit complicated.

i recall that the engine is a straight swap with a Fiat twin cam?

the standard Lada engine used to suffer from the carb freezing up on cold days. i remember being on the M4 with a flask of hot water thawing it out!

heater was mega though! designed for cold Russian winters!!

My friends one used to have 6.50x16 firestone SAT's, they fitted the arches easily. with a slight lift i reckon you'd fit 7.00's ot maybe 7.50's
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Old 20 Apr 2007
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Niva on Africa Overland

Hi Erik,

Any experiences with the Lada Niva?
Well my Lada trip is not the latest one (Africa Overland attempt 1991 ended being evacuated by the Belgian army out of former Zaire)

How reliable are they for overlanding?
It is not the most reliable car on earth, but shouldn’t be worse than an old Landy and its mainly simple technique used. Disadvantage is the low payload. You have to travel like a biker or the overloading causes massive problems with the suspension and trailing links. Spare parts are hardly available.

Pros and cons?
It is cheap but you have to find one with low mileage and minimum corrosion (Corrosion is a big problem!). Low payload, restricted space and at least at the petrol engines high fuel consumption (alternatively the rare Peugeot diesel engines tend to crack the gearbox). Except the former USSR allied countries the Niva is at least in Africa not very common and it is even hard to get spares in Europe. Very good off road ability.

Ways to improve it?
There are OME springs available, this should improve the worst disadvantage. Reinforcing the rear trailing links might be worth a thought.

Hopefully we get some pics of our Nivass up on the website the next week.

Best regards
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Old 6 Jul 2009
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Lada Niva 1600 - 1900Td


I´ve owned a Lada Niva 1600 for some years and went several times to Morocco with it. I upgraded the suspension : OME springs front and rear +5cm (higher ground clearance and able to charge the car more without getting into troubles), Monroe reinforced shock dempers. The only thing that I had to change is a silentblock of the Monroe shock demper (so it wasn´t even a piece of Niva). For the rest try to keep eveything standard !!! simple and "unbreakable" (due to overdimensioning).
Problems : very small motor, lack of power to do dune riding or very sandy sections and it is a spartan interior without airco, server direction, etc etc... but the sense of adventure is the greater !!!
Nowadays I own a Toyota LC KZJ90 VX (I´ve got a family now but I do miss the old rough days with my Lada. PS in Egypt I drove around in a Mitshubishi Pajero and have seen I don´t know how many Lada´s over there, a real paradise for the Lada lover.

YouTube - Niva du sable II

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Old 6 Jul 2009
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Hi Eriks

the niva is basically very comfortable, tough and reliable, i've had 3 and abused 2 of them very badly, but they were very good. corrosion is an issue but the steel is also very thick compared with cars of a similar vintage.

the electrics are simple and not overly prone to bad earths unlike suzukis
the dash panel is poor as are the switches and most plastics.

the 1600 engine is very reliable from a fiat design, but has a very poor carb, change it to a webber twin choke for instant power increase and better mpg.
replace the points for electronic and away you go.
beware rattly engines they use timing chains that if not adjusted correctly wear out the tensioner pad and can wear through the head and cause oil leak.
the engine should run quiet, timing chain adjustment is easy to do with 2 spanners and takes 5 min.

the 1700 injection is better but not by much, the deisel if you can get one is very good.

another problem when bigger tyres are fitted is the alloy steering box snaps at the mounts due to the steering mountings flexing the inner wheel arch panel, this can be stopped by reinforcing the panel.

all bushes can now be replced by urathane & is easy to do, as been said load carrying is not great but the rear seats can be removed.

they are still made in china and australia with lots of options available one is a 5 core rad for the diesel ideal for hot climates they also do a pickup version.

regards all

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Old 19 Jan 2011
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If anybody needs Lada Niva parts, contact me, I could try to help.

I sold my Niva few years ago, but parts is not a problem here in Latvia.
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Old 20 Jan 2011
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They have just started selling them again here in the UK.

a friend of mine used to have one... great little car. especially on Firestone SAT's!
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Old 20 Jan 2011
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I had a 1996 niva 1.7i so no probs with the carb Off road it was great with it very short wheel base.
Fuel economy was't that bad and it could keep up with traffic on the motorway with no worrys.
Due to the pay load it could be a problem but i think if your on your own or with one other person i think it would be o.k
I don't no what it would be like to get parts for the 1.7i i think it is a vauxhall engine? so may be easyier to get the parts.
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Old 21 Jan 2011
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Hello mate .
I had a lada niva 2004.It had 10.000 km.
I bought it because i tought it wase a good little car.
But everthing on it broke, like radiator,suspension,stabilisador,
driveshaft ....and a lot more.And i was not even driving off road ,or trassing the car like a mad man.
No i just drove dirt roads.
Before i had the car i really liked the idea of having a small cheap car that
can do anny thing ...but now i know better.

Freedom is all i need!
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Old 21 Jan 2011
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They're selling Nivas in the UK again?

How have they satisfied the NCAP and emissions regs (which were the reasons Ladas got pulled from sale in the EU in the first place)?
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Old 25 Jan 2011
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Its true they are back..
Euro 5 engine too.

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Old 25 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by pietro.spera View Post
I heard somewhere that it is the worst car in "crash-test".
While I don't remember the source of this info, I wouldn't be surprise if it were true.
well I had a Lada Niva in 1989 and survived a roll over on the German Autoban... didn't see a standstill at the end of a traffic jam and had to brake hard avoiding a crash and begun to circle around regarding the short axle stand, rolled over and landed upside down on the roof in to the ditch...

now this little solid Lada Niva only suffered a dent in the roof and lost the windscreen... after the recovery vehicle turned here back on to it's wheels about two hours later, I was able to drive all the way home for about 200km without any trouble on it's own steam... the Niva was OK, I was OK...
Compare to another roll over in a Range Rover a year later which was a totally write off, I would buy a Lada Niva 4x4 any time again.... tough and under estimated little bastard.
The trouble is that he was talking in philosophy, but they were listening in gibberish.
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Old 26 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by spooky View Post
I would buy a Lada Niva 4x4 any time again.... tough and under estimated little bastard.
Here here!
I'm gutted i don't own mine any more, but i will get another sometime
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