Tell your mates you're in the market for a second-hand Lada and chances are, they'll tell you to save up and buy something else. But if the budget is tight and you want a small off-roader, the Niva's what you'll want. It may not be the world's most advanced vehicle, but its simple mechanicals and basic equipment levels mean there are not too many things to go wrong.
The Niva was sold in the UK from 1979 until 1997, when the importers regretfully closed the new car order books. Electronic engine management and fuel injection was needed for both the Niva and its family-car brother, the Samara, to meet EC exhaust emission standards. Strapped for cash, the factory simply could not afford to develop the new technology or buy it from the one American supplier that had the ideal system.
Niva buyers have tended to be a mixture of dedicated four-wheel drive enthusiasts, farmers and those who fancy something like a big off-roader but whose bank manager disagrees. Enthusiasts now eagerly seeking out the last cars.