My Second Niva

It's been almost 2 years since I bought my project Niva (see "My Niva" page). But there was a big problem - a complete lack of time to restore it. So far, I had stripped out all of the interior, and cut out and replaced most of the floor...but that was just scratching the surface. If I didn't have two jobs and too many other things to tend to, I would no doubt finished it by now.... But what can you do.

So, one of these days I was browsing Ebay (yea, I know...), when I came across this 1978 Niva - it looked pretty good on the photos, so I though, what the heck, let's talk to the guy who's selling it. Well, the guy and the Niva were in Belgium (no biggie, since I bought my Sedan from Germany), but he doesn't speak any English...and I don't speak any French. Thank god for computer translation! Believe it or not, but we were able to understand each other perfectly fine! (Full credit to Google Language Tools).

Anyhow... after talking to the guy, I said to myself - I could have a Niva and drive it too! So low and behold, three months later my new Niva rolled off the transport truck and onto my driveway under it's own power! It's in WAY better condition than my old one, and it won't take much to make it a nice driver.

It has a few interesting modifications, the biggest being a LPG fuel conversion - yes, it's a dual-fuel Niva. There's a large LPG tank under the trunk's floor. I haven't tried to run it on LPG yet (tank is empty), but will definitely try it. It also has a side exhaust, since the space where stock exhaust used to be is occupied by the LPG tank now. Interior also had a few things changed - instead of stock seats, it now sports deep fiberglass buckets (kinda tricky to get in and out though). In addition, stock steering wheel was replaced by a Moto-Lita wheel (retails for $200), plus there's a map light built into the dash now. And there's also a nice sun-roof. The wheels I believe are from a Suzuki Samurai.

Here are some pictures I took the day after the Niva arrived. You can see all the mods I was talking about (click to view full-size image):

1978 Lada Niva1978 Lada Niva1978 Lada Niva1978 Lada Niva
1978 Lada Niva1978 Lada Niva1978 Lada Niva Interior1978 Lada Niva Dashboard
1978 Lada Niva Sunroof1978 Lada Niva Exhaust1978 Lada Niva Propane Tank1978 Lada Niva Engine
1978 Lada Niva Seats1978 Lada Niva Engine

After test-driving the Niva, it became apparent that it either needs a carburetor rebuild or a new one altogether - mixture was way too rich (clouds of black smoke :-) No big deal - I just happen to have a brand new Weber 32/36 DGEV sitting in the garage. I ordered a couple of jets and an air filter, and will be putting it on shortly. This carburetor is the single best performance upgrade you can do for a Lada - it bolts right up, and gives you a very nice boost. Here's the jetting table courtesy of Robin Booth(sent to NivaOwners group on Yahoo before it closed):

Weber 32/36 DGEV Jetting Table for Niva 1.6

MAIN JET 1.40 1.40
IDLE JET .55 .45

Update (July 2004) - I have successfully installed the Weber 32/36DGEV with the above specs, and it's running great. I have also fitted a new custom exhaust made for me by Sean Huffman (owner of former Turboniva website). This system sounded really nice and mean, but a bit too loud for my taste, so I added a second muffler to it (a 2.5" glasspack) to act as a resonator. I have also removed the LPG system and the towbar to give me more ground clearance in the rear, and fitted Rancho RS5000 shocks all around - a very nice upgrade compared to the old stock shocks. And as the last touch, I installed the stock front grille on it instead of that homemade one you can see in the pictures.

With all these mods, the Niva has been running great, and I have taken it off-road a couple times. To read about my most recent off-road trip, follow the "Off-Road" link on the left.