1989 Lada 1600 1.6 petrol




Electrics were all messed up and not much worked. Nothing a day of work couldn't fix, all good now.

Seats are a bit dodgy, will put new ones in though.

General Comments:

When I got it, the timing was 90 degrees advanced, half of the rotor button was missing, and the valve clearances were out by a mile. The car really should not have run. I drove it home a few hours back down the road and it just kept going.

May not be the most comfortable or the quickest, but it will take you where the others can't get, and they just keep on going.

Awesome little car that is severely underrated.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th July, 2007

1989 Lada 1600 Niva 1.6 petrol


A Real 4 Wheel Drive


The usual Lada problems - The electronic ignition had to be replaced with a Bosch. Rust under the hinges (rear door) which had had no protection at all. Cracking in the floor pan round the transmission. fifth gear, the selector and clutch, each a Russian joke.

General Comments:

So they are not perfect, but given that we bought it with 30,000kl for about one third of the new price and that we have had great use of it for the last 13 years we are VERY happy with our old car.

It is a true 4 wheel drive and compares very well with the ancient Land Rovers I used to own, and better than them in the following fields: comfort, economy, reliability, and except for the size in off road performance.

The rust has finally begun to make inroads - not a surprise as we do drive it on the beach. It is still a great little car - still starts first touch of the key - still uses only 10 liters per 100kl (30mpg AUS) (27mpg US) and runs happily at 110kl (65mph) on the freeway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st July, 2005

1996 Lada 1600 Turist 1.6L


On road it's a dud. Off road, it is excellent


Starter Motor Failed

Alternator Failed

Rear Shock Snapped

Front Springs Sagged.

General Comments:

This is my second car, used primarily for off-road use.

Very poor performer On road. Poor safety, Terrible handbrake (NOT self adjusting), Slow + Lethargic. Uncomfortable. Noisy.

Off Road, it is fantastic. Excellent fording ability once engine electrics are waterproofed, Starter motor + Alternator have filled up with Mud + failed, they should both be at top of engine bay, out of harms way. Gearing is a bit high. Once front springs reset to factory tolerances, ground clearance is excellent. This is a VERY capable vehicle off-road, and provided you are mechanically minded, and can do the basics, like tension timing chain every 5000kms, check + change all fluids regularly, the car will function reliably. The full-time 4wd configuration is excellent, as you can maneuver on road in low ratio safely. Paint quality poor, but body is very strong.

I have owned 3 so far, and am VERY happy with the Niva's.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th June, 2004

26th Sep 2008, 00:25

Offroad it's a bobbydazzler, on road rather ordinary (though to call it a dud on road is it a bit harsh in my opinion), but still you don't buy a budget model offroader and expect Ferrari level performance on the bitumen; that's totally unrealistic.

If you can live with its rather ordinary on road performance, then for what it is, there's no better vehicle for the price. A wonderfully rugged basic and simple vehicle that lends itself well to home servicing. As I say when asked to define its virtues in one sentence "Cheap as dirt, tough as guts, simple as ABC"

22nd Jun 2010, 19:22

The Russian Range Rover was not built for speed, rather for climbing snow, rocks and mud, hence the low gearing, 74 horsies, 134 newts, 235mm ground clearance, unsurpassed centre of gravity, 510mm deep fording abilities and barely any vehicle in front of, or behind, its wheels. I have crept past a short wheelbase Nissan patrol while he was winching, and I had light commercial 8 ply road tyres inflated to 45 PSI. This vehicle is the ultimate four wheel drive (mine is '84) it is rarely stuck and I have yet to be defeated by any track. For 1200 bucks I laugh. I pity those who spend tens of thousands, seriously modifying vehicles that still don't come close to the level of ability this one comes with standard :-} As for its top speed of 140 (redlining down hill) and cruising speed of 90 (at 4000 RPM) I personally have had enough tickets to last me a lifetime, which is partly why I bought a Niva. I still catch up to people (and pass them) which I find disturbing. It's kinda like driving a truck where long smooth lines are required. Also we need to recognise it sports a full independent front suspension and coils all round, another useful point off road (no leaf springs snagging on obstacles). The only fault I noted is the rust, but I have stripped mine, and patched and painted. Also I filled it with fisholene. Love your Niva.