1994 Lada Niva 1600

The Lada Niva is to Russia as the Jeep Wrangler is to the US: that standard, rugged, dependable two-door off-road vehicle. It is made by Russian auto manufacturer AvtoVAZ, formerly just VAZ. The Niva has been in production since the late 70s, remarkably surviving the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR.

The Niva was the first AvtoVAZ product not to be directly based on a Fiat. It shared some Fiat 124 mechanicals, but the body, four-wheel drive system and independent front suspension were all unique to AvtoVAZ.

Styling is pretty neat. It's typical 70s Eastern European mod, compact, hard angles and pure function but not without some character and soul. The red paint helps brighten things as well.

The seller says this is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder gas version mated to a manual transmission. It won't win any drag races (unless your racing a Yugo) but it will get the job done and not guzzle fuel. Another bonus is the 4WD system, so fear no winter, either.

Mechanically, the seller says it runs like mint, with new battery, fuel pump, oil and filter and brakes. They say it has racked up just 85,000 kilometers which equals only about 52k miles. Cosmetically, they don't mention the exterior but say inside is immaculate with no rips, scratches or tears.

I would definitely check for rust. Otherwise, this is a sweet alternative to the ubiquitous Wrangler or too expensive and fussy Defender 90.

Available on ebay here with bidding at $2,300.

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