By on January 25, 2010

Russian President Vladimir Putin first showed off his badass camo Lada Niva early last year, in an attempt to boost the fortunes of the floundering state-supported Russian automaker AvtoVAZ. What Putin didn’t reveal until just now is that his Niva isn’t exactly stock.”I won’t hide it [anymore?] , the car I bought has an Opel engine,” he tells the WaPo. “It turns out that it’s more powerful.” Now wonder Russian parliamentarians are starting to advocate dumping AvtoVAZ on Renault, which in turn is drawing a familiar homerism from local pols in Russia’s Detroit, Tolyatti. In other car-salesman-in-chief developments today, Barack Obama revealed that he believes GM is a world-class automaker because his Cadillac is so badass.

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13 Comments on “Putin Loves His (Customized) Lada...”

  • avatar

    Fascinating. The strongman of Russia drives a car that’s little divorced from Niva I bought sixteen years ago, back when it was the second-cheapest car that could be had new.

    I sold the car back six weeks later because it was utter crap. Somehow I doubt that Putin suffers the same experience.

    • 0 avatar

      There is one surviving (operational) Niva in my ‘hood. Every time I walk past it I am thankful for its considerable contribution to local automotive diversity.

      It’s one less gold-sedan-with-a-lame-wing-on-the-trunk-lid.

    • 0 avatar

      Lada Niva is a classic , even Top Gear gave it kudos on a soviet car bashing episode as a sensible 4×4 that was a revolution for the 4×4 with a better suspension then most.
      There are several Nivas in my town but few people wish to sell them ,they are sturdy ,fun little 4×4’s , and they were never cheapest items on the market , even in 1990’s with few American cars were cheap the Niva was 33% more expensive then entry level cars.

  • avatar

    psarhjinian, he has a T82 as a back up vehicle, so he should be okay.

  • avatar

    A Niva is a man’s man car – makes a Jeep look like a nice commuter car – I want one. Came across the ultra rare pickup version a while back.

    • 0 avatar

      By now you’d probably be safe buying one as the ones that have survived are the good ones.

      They were legally available in Canada for several years, and you could probably get one imported via that route. They don’t come up for sale very often, though. They do show up, though, from time to time.

      If you could find a running Samara, though, I’d be impressed.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in Canada so there is a the occasional one for sale here. Been a few years since I’ve seen a driven Samara. They still will pop up once and a while at the u-pull junkyards. Probably just someone clearing out their backyard.

    • 0 avatar

      Man’s man driving, Russian style:

      Love this video. UAZs have got to be even rarer over here than Nivas. Great footage and awesome music.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen last year in Toronto Lada that predated Samara and it was driven and had new plates.

      Niva also comes as a 5-door (VAZ-2131):

      a bullet proof version (VAZ-212182)

      a pick-up version (VAZ-2329):

      a marsh version (VAZ-1922):

    • 0 avatar

      How about 1981 Vaz-2106

  • avatar

    Herr Niedermeyer, the city where Ladas are built is called Togliatti. Named after an Italian Communist leader, when the Russians transscibed the name into the Cyrillic alphabet, they used the phonetic spelling. Therefore while the Russians spell it as Tolyatti in the Cyrillic alphabet, the Latin spelling still is Togliatti.
    As for the Niva, it is quite capable off road, unibody notwithstanding.

  • avatar

    Niva was brought back to the showrooms here in Finland. Bargain-basement price, no safety features whatsoever, bad fuel economy (20-28mpg), poor performance, questionable reliability – and incredible off-road performance. The most surprising bit is the engine: the ancient 1960s lump is capable of Euro-4 emissions.

    I wish they’d put an Opel engine under the hood here also, preferably a Diesel. And air bags. And ABS brakes. And… I guess I’ll have to buy a Suzuki Jimny instead.

    • 0 avatar

      I love it how they list “glovebox” as a feature worth mentioning. 0-100kph in 19 seconds is pretty pathetic, as is the top speed of 137kph, but it can take 58% inclines and it’s small enough to go around pretty much anything it cant go over..

      If i had a crapload of money a Niva would definately be on my list of fun vehicles to own.

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