Hi, I have owned three Nivas in the past, though now due to illness they're not suitable for me. I always enjoyed driving them for some strange reason, they always brought a smile to my face! The only problem I ever had was the front brake calipers, they kept seizing and replacements cost about £250 each at the time (1992) more than the car was worth at the time. In saying that I would not hesitate to recommend them; often showing up Land Rover Discoveries etc. They are cheap and cheerfull and this must be remembered when you go to try/buy one. My only regret is that I am unable to get muddy and enjoy myself with the niva.
You can sort out the tractor engine problem by putting a Fiat twin cam straight in - much more like it!!
I currently own a Volvo 360 (great car) but it hates the dirt, and that is where I'd like to start going.
I've looked at mid 80s' Range Rovers and Toyota 4WD's, but they are too expensive and often have expensive repair bills.
How would you compare a 2.4L Toyota 4Runner to a 1.6L Lada Niva?
Lada's look fun to play with and are very cheap in Australia, but are also rare, there are no Lada dealers or service mechanics.
I'm very confused what to buy?
I need to compare price and reliability.
I have never driven a cossack. I like the simple design of them. I need a 4x4 to do the Plymouth to Dakar rally in and I am looking at getting a Lada. I have to spare Fiat Twin cam engines. There is a Lada in a scrap yard near me which I am thinking about getting. It has no engine to I will put a Twin Cam in.
After looking over the Cossack I thought how great it looked. I cannot wait to see how it goes with a 2000cc twin cam under the bonnet.
I have a 1995 Niva Cossack and am planning to drive it across Canada (approx 5000 km). Would it be a good idea to bring some spare parts along for the trip (i.e. belts, fuses, etc)? Any suggestions to help make this trip go as smooth as possible? Thanks!
I do 300+km each week in my 97 Cossack, and that's just to and from work. In response to the previous comment, for the space they take up, put in 2 fan belts, set of fuses, crank handle (and learn to use it) as well as the usual engine/mechanical checks before leaving home. I have driven my Cossack (effectively a Niva with sunroof and spots) in snow, up active volcanoes and in the bush. Gets a bit thirsty on the winding back roads and in stop-start traffic, but otherwise bulletproof. Great fun, and you can stand on the bonnet to take photos.
We live in South Africa and drive a Niva Sidekick - essentially a Niva with silver plastic bumpers, wheel and body fairing, nudge bar and spots. It has proved extremely reliable and drives better than anything else we've had. Only problem so far: We lost the spider gears going over a rock on a 4x4 track. There are some South African guys who are intending to take their Nivas overland to Togliattigrad to the Auto Vaz plant. Reliable vehicles, or what?
I have owned four Niva's over the past twenty years and had one of the first new ones to be sold in Australia, since then I have purchased used ones due to the price differential. I have owned two four speed and two five speed. The four speed were no good on the open road, but better off road. No problems with anything mechanical or electrical on all four, but fit and finish were a bit crude and a regular tighten up of all suspension and chassis components helped.
I now own a 3 door Suzuki Escudo (Vitara) much better to drive, but not as good off road due to less ground clearance and harder suspension.
The Niva is a very underrated vehicle.
I drive my 1993 Lada Niva 250 kms/day at speeds over 150 km/hr. I keep the motor reving at 5000-5500 rpm for hours on end. The motor seems to love a constant 5000+ rpm and goes faster and faster everyday. I have been doing this for the past 2 years now. That's over 1200 kms/week for 2 years.
To achieve this, I only changed the carb. I simply put in a 1.8 L Fiat carb (with manual choke). I wanted a 2.0L Fiat carb, but could not find one at the time. This carb can be used on both 1600 and 1.7i Niva motors, just on the 1.7i you remove the fuel injection.
If balance and load is spread properly over the very short wheelbase, the Niva will corner like its on rails and put some sports cars to shame.
Niva has the strongest suspension pieces of any civilian vehicle. Its remarkable off-roading comes from the very short wheelbase and unmatched travel of the rear suspension.
Along with the 40 Liters of gas to travel 300 kms @ 150+ km/hr, Nivas also eat Hummers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With the 115,000 kms or so that I put on I have gone through:
- (3) alternators - (2) starters - (3) brake pads
- (1) caliper - (1) set of ball joints - (1) 5th gear.
(on 5 speeds the 5 th gear does not engage completely and the teeth can strip IF very gradual accelerations/decelerations are NOT taken in 5 th gear.)
The best thing I have found is they are so cheap & reliable to run, in Australia & New Zealand.
I found with mine, the harder you drive it, the better it goes.
5th gear can be a problem, but as our parts supplier says, it's an overdrive gear, don't use it under 90 km/h.
Use only premium unleaded, and don't start looking at the price difference; it only costs an extra $ or so to fill the tank, better economy, power etc., and I am surprised at the difference, but as I was told, handbook says not to use under 93 octane (the highest grade standard unleaded is only 91 octane, and drops down as low as 85 octane) and is crap (shouldn't be using standard unleaded in any vehicle - even lawnmowers, motor bikes, chainsaws etc.). I have found the best is either BP Ultimate or Shell Optimax (in that order).
Gas shocks make the car harder to handle off road, affects the traction, and even breaks the mounting brackets off.
DON'T listen to these clowns who tell you to put Suzuki wheels etc. on. The offsets are miles out, and you will go through more wheel bearings, ball joints, tie rod ends, and even break steering boxes.
Adjust the timing chain every 10,000kms. The only time I had problems with mine was after people had played around and used non genuine parts...
These people that tell you Fiat motors go "straight" in. Tell them they're idiots, and obviously don't know what they're talking about - it's a hell of a lot of stuffing around...
Best people I have found to help, with info & prices is firstname.lastname@example.org in New Zealand, or www.ladaparts.com.
Hope this helps, Doug.
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