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1.- Change the stock carb to a Weber 32ADFA, 32/36 DGAV, etc. Almost anything is better than the original DAAZ carbs*.
2.- Change the exhaust pipe to a 2" or 2 1/2", and get rid of the first muffler.
3.- Mill the head down 1 or 1.5 mm, and have the machine shop do some porting or 5-angle job on the valve pockets. Also, a good polish on the intake manifold will help heaps.
4.- Install a custom-made 4-2-1 (to retain some low-end torque for off-road applications) exhaust header manifold, or a 4-to-1 (for racing & high-RPM applications) exhaust header.
5.- Get rid of the points and install an electronic ignition distributor, plus some good Bosch 4-electrode spark plugs, 8.8 silicone wires, hi-voltage coil (Accel, Crane, MSD) and MSD multi-spark ignition module.
6.- Install a K&N low-restriction air filter.
7.- Get rid of the mechanical fan blades and install a high quality electric fan. Good electric fans can draw some pretty high amps, so an alternator swap should be considered.
8.- The stock chain tensioner shoe can be pretty restrictive, but you can fabricate a sprocket-type tensioner or have one ordered from a little machine shop at the Ural mountain foothills in Russia.
9.- This same machine shop makes an adjustable camshaft sprocket which can work wonders.
10.- If you´re in Europe and can find a wrecker that carries old 2.0 Fiats or Lancias with a "Sport" badge on them, you can treat yourselt to a Volumex supercharger. Of course you´ll need to modify the crankshaft pulley in order to fit a toothed belt for the supercharger (and sort the fueling).
11.- Although the saying "There´s no replacement for displacement" makes a lot of sense, I wouldn´t tamper with the stock cylinder capacity. The water jackets on the stock Lada 1.6 or 1.7 blocks leave very little room for improvements of this kind.
These are only a few of the things you can do. There´s many more, but fancier improvements call for much deeper pockets...
Long ago, I embraced the idea of
installing a Fiat 2.0 DOHC which is a great engine (115-120
HP without modifications), but I guess I´m not very fond of toothed belt
1991 Lada Niva 1.6
*Though unless the Weber is in good condition and you have the jetting right it may not be an upgrade, and simply drink more fuel; check our my Weber Swap page.
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