The Lada Niva, kindly put, is a functional mode of daily transportation. That’s it. Nothing more. I bought one as a daily driver for puttering around Marbach am Neckar, outside of Stuttgart, Germany, and chose to overlook a cornucopia of the car’s shortcomings. The purchase was an action commanded by pathos. The screaming gearbox, utter discomfort, the ability to observe it rusting in real time—all grounds for a reasonable person to run far, far away and into the loving embrace of a lightly used subcompact crossover with Apple CarPlay. The idea of an unstoppable Soviet 4×4, however, simply overwrote these data points on my gearhead mind’s hard drive.
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Owned a Niva in the 80's new in Canada when they first came out. Was unstoppable offroad, especially in deep snow, but was a high revving screamer on the highway. Didn't have it long enough to see it rust due to increasing mechanical problems but it was a fun offroader and cheap to buy. Body by Fiat and mechanical by Russia, think it would have been better other way around.
The early ones had a four speed which no doubt would have been buzzy on the highway! Even the newer ones you are not supposed to use fifth gear under 90kph due to fifth gear being weak. I think many turn into for speeds anyway!
Awesome! I used to live in Neckarweihingen on Hohenrainstr.! I remember going on a vacation in Turkey. We went on one of those "Jeep tours", and our group has Suzuki Samurai and the others had the Nivas. I remember wishing our group has the Russian vehicle, but our guide promptly informed that the Russian wasn't as reliable as the Japanese! If this thread is still up, I'll post the one picture I have from that day!