Electrics need not be a problem with the Niva if certain items are regularly maintained. When tail light bulbs fail, its usually not the bulbs at all- but the contact points that are at fault. All that needs to be done is to use fine sandpaper and "dress" the points which are usually covered by a fine layer of oxidation. Once you polish these points (so that they shine), you won`t have problems for years. The same principle applies to the contact points on the buttons that control the interior light (they are located on the inside front of the doors). If you are getting a bit of static noise through your radio, undo the small screws at the base of the aerial (on the side of the windscreen), and thoroughly dress and polish them. Don`t forget the small Phillips screw on the inside that holds the aerial to the mounting bracket. These screws develop a bit of oxidation and rust over time, but they are very important for transmitting a clear signal, so they must be cleaned every few years. Another tip is to replace the bulbs in the two interior lights with bulbs of a higher strength- this will give excellent interior light (which is normally a bit dim). Don`t use bulbs that are too strong however, as too much heat may affect the plastic covers. Don`t leave interior lights on for too long. If working inside the car (with doors open), balance the interior light switches in the middle position- this will ensure that the interior light is off. Hope some of these tips are useful. (From a 1997 NIVA enthusiast)
Thanks for your comment. NO, I don't drive my foot resting on the clutch I avoid it obsessively :) I guess you're right with the inferior quality clutch.
Sounds like most of your problems come from letting all your friends drive your Niva! In someone else's vehicle, especially off-road, I'll bet they ride it like a rented mule!
The best comment I think I've heard about the Niva's is to treat it like a big, enclosed, heated ATV, the windows radio lights etc are all nice extras, but secondary to the 4x4, and it's not made for highways. Sounds like you're having a lot of fun with it.