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The Names & Logo
actually the name of a car maker at all, but a name chosen by the Togliatti
AvtoVaz factory used to sell its cars in the West (according
to James May "Lada" means a type of boat used on the Volga, as per
the logo). "Lada" was chosen because it is pronounced
a similar way in all languages, has no sexual connotations, and can be written
in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.
The Niva is called a VAZ-2121, BA3-2121 or HNBA in Russia (HNBA means 'Field' in Russian). The "Niva" name was created for the Western market, and is presumably named after the Niva river in same region as the AvtoVaz plant (lucky the Volga name was already taken :) ).
The AvtoVaz and Lada logo is a Viking ship (much like the Rover logo).
Biggest One-roof Auto-maker In the Word
When the Tolyatti/Togliatti plant (named after Palmiro Togliatti, a leader of the Italian Communist Party) was built it was the largest car factory in the world (and possibily still is today; in 2008 the factory was the biggest per-factory volume output in Europe). The whole factory takes up 600 acres with 400 buildings and has over 300km of assembly line. Also it was the only factory where virtually 100% of the car was made in the same factory.
Nivas have also been assembled (from Togliatti sourced kits) in Greece, Ecuador, Uruguay and Egypt, and are currently (as of 2009) assembled in Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.
First to the North Pole
Despite what Jeremy Clarkson claims about his modified Toyota being the first road vehicle to drive to the Pole, it was in fact done many years earlier — by Nivas.
In 1998 a Niva was dropped by parachute and finished the track to the Pole on its own. In 1999 a Niva Marsh was driven to the Pole.
In January 2000 a standard Bronto Niva Marsh (VAZ-1922; a Russian made Niva hybrid on a UAZ 466 chassis) reached the geographic North Pole without any modification. It was driven by two Russians from research base about 114 km from the Pole. They say that the Marsh behaved perfectly, maintaining an average speed of 20-15 Km/h in an average temperature of -30ºC.
Unlike Clarkson's specially modified Hilux, you can buy a Niva Marsh off-the-shelf from VAZ/Bronto.
More info .
Nivas are also one of the few cars that can be found on all five continents; Nivas were used at Russia bases in Antarctic. There's also an unconfirmed claim that a Niva was at the South Pole in 1992 (surely also a Marsh if true).
Click to download a First-to-the-Pole tribute sticker and annoy Jeremy Clarkson.
Highest ascent by a motor vehicle
Nivas held the world
record for altitude climbed by a vehicle. In 1998, a team with Lada Nivas drove
to around 5,200 meters altitude to to base camp on Mount Everest; though this
didn't break the world record of 5420 metres claimed by a Citroen 2CV on Mont
Chacaltaya in Bolivia in the 1950s.
However, on the 16th of September 1999 at 2:30 in the afternoon, the Extreme Expedition team of St. Petersburg extended this to a world record by taking 3 Nivas to an altitude of 5,726 meters, on the Tibetan Plato in Himalayas.
This record stood until 2005 when specially prepared Volkswagen Touaregs reached an altitude of 6,080 meters in Chile.
More info .
Click to download a Highest-Ascent-Record tribute sticker.
Rally-Raid World Champion
The Niva was an outright winner in many off-road racing rallys in the early to mid-1980s, including outright wins on:
Only outright victory on the the Paris-Dakar eluded the Niva - though Nivas achieved over a dozen stage wins and several overall podium finishes. A VFTS turbo powered Niva, Lada Poch 1800, scored 3rd overall in the Dakar in 1981 (BRIAVOINE/DELIAIRE), and 2 litre Poch Nivas finished the Dakar 2nd overall in 1982 (BRIAVOINE/DELIATRE) and 1983 (TROSSAT/BRIAVOINE), and a Niva just missed podium with a 4th in 1986 (LARTIGUE/GIROUX). Jacky Ickx gave up his Porsche seat to drive a Niva ROC with a 290hp Simca based F2 engine in the 1987 Dakar.
Read here about a Niva entry in the very first Dakar in 1979. The Niva was still used on the Dakar until the mid 1990s, and was homologated for international racing in T1 class until at least 2006.
Various hybrid Nivas have succeeded in other forms of off-road racing, including a mid-engined Ferrari powered Niva and a twin Yamaha R1 engined Niva. A Niva won the USSR 1983 off-road autocross championship. Nivas also have a good record in 4x4 trials, and have won many European and South American trials.
More info 1 info 2 info 3 and Australian victories.
Click to download a Niva Rally-Raid Champion tribute sticker.
World’s longest mass-produced 4x4 model
Currently (2017) the Lada Niva is the world’s longest mass-produced civilian 4x4/SUV model — the Niva's deliberate middle-finger-in-the-wind to planned obsolescence has seen it have a longer production run than even its Soviet planners intended it to, indeed it's outlasted the Soviet Union and is still going in a capitalist economy, more info.
Hippopotamus vs Crocodile?
From what I can make out in Russia the original 3-door Niva is nicknamed Hippopotamus and the longer 5-door is known as the Crocodile.
Hippo disguised as a crocodile?
Lada Rotary Engine
In the late '70s and early '80s AvtoVaz produced a 115/140hp Wankel rotary engine that is very similar in format to the Mazda rotary. It was fitted to various VAZ and GAZ cars, but not the Niva (except Marsh) as far as I know. More info .
It looks so much like a Mazda 13B that a replica rotary Riva would surely be very easy to create...
Classic Lada Jokes
Mostly about the Classic saloon rather than the Niva, and many of these are simply reinventions of jokes about other low-priced marques, but funny none the less. Give me a laugh.
Also see: Niva Development History (Ivan Shevelenko) - a comprehensive history of the development of the Niva with lots of prototype and pre-production images (1.3M)
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