Junkyard Find: Lada Niva

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find lada niva

When I went to Iceland to abuse some Subarus, I managed to visit a couple of Reykjavik junkyards and poke around a bit. In addition to the weird-to-American-eyes French cars and puzzling quantities of 1990s Chrysler products, I found this VAZ-2121 aka Lada Niva 3-door wedged nose-to-tail with a green Megane.

The car’s doors were locked and the yard’s proprietor didn’t speak much English, so I couldn’t determine this Russian’s year of manufacture. The marker lights and some comments by Lada-admiring Icelanders later suggest that this car is from the early 1980s.

There’s no way this car could have competed in the United States market, what with all the cheap Subarus, reliable Toyota Tercel 4WDs, and the perception that Ladas were just Fiats built by enslaved Stakhonovites in dirt-floored tents in the Gulag. Elsewhere, however, the Niva built up a reputation for T-34-grade toughness.

These days, the Niva’s appeal in Iceland has waned, and so this car will likely end up getting crushed soon.

Not many products benefit from association with the Soviet Union. The AK-47 and the Niva, that’s about it.

That’s how you treat a Lada.

In Iceland, they’re a little rougher on their Ladas.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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2 of 34 comments
  • Garak Garak on Nov 27, 2013

    I remember driving one of these new in 2007, it looked exactly like this one. The taillights and interior make this a post-1995 model at least, and I think the streering wheel is 1999 or later. Most likely this vehicle is from the 2000s. They are truly awful machines, with subpar reliability in every way. We're talking about major diff and exhaust manifold repairs every 10000 km.

  • Tonto Tonto on Dec 01, 2013

    Second place in Paris Dakar 1981 .....http://youtu.be/_kPOzD_jEoI

  • SCE to AUX Another outsourced battery goes awry.
  • Jkross22 Nah, If I needed a truck, I'd get a Nissan titan or for nearly the same money a 20 yr old SR5.
  • Kwik_Shift No. It is hideous and jarring to look at. Why would I need this anyway?
  • Jeff From the side profile this gives off Taurus wagon vibes. Nice looking wagon love the exterior color and the interior. The burled walnut interior trim is beautiful.
  • Jeff I think initially there will be a lot of orders for this truck and then sales will crater. Those that want this truck mainly the Tesla fans will buy them and then anyone that wanted one will have already bought one. The Cybertruck kind of reminds me of the Delorean which was widely anticipated and once it was out and those who wanted a Delorean bought one that was the end. Both the Delorean and Cybertruck are stainless steel and both are weird looking. Maybe they could release a new Back to the Future sequence and have Doc drive a Cybertruck.