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Low-ratio gearbox swap.




Niva 5-speeds had a first gear ratio of 1:3.667, and the 4-speeds had either the same 3.667 or a higher ratio 3.242 first gear (see discussion ).

But some older 4-speed Lada classic saloons and estates (eg the 1200, see table below) had 3.75:1 1st gear. So for any Niva, especially the 3.242s, there's an advantage to using this early saloon gearbox for a lower 1st gear crawl speed. See magazine article below for DIY guide.

All RWD classic Lada and Niva gearboxes are interchangeable if you keep the same number of gears (4 or 5). You can also replace a 5-speed box with 4-speed one or vice versa, but you'll need the 4-speed gearbox's rear mount and cross-member as well as they're slightly different to the 5-speed's. As a bonus I understand the 4-speed is stronger than the 5-speed.

Lada  4-speed vs 5-speed
4-speed vs 5-speed gearbox

Lada 4-speed mount vs 5-speed mount
4-speed mount vs 5-speed mount


I believe the Fiat 124 4-speed should also be a straight swap for the Lada 4-speed, however the Fiat 124 5-speeds are different to Lada's 5-speed (slightly longer, and a completely different rear mount iirc) so need a bit of work to fit.

I'm guessing it would be possible to hybrid the lower 1st gear set from a Lada saloon 4-speed into a Lada 5-speed 'box, but I've no record of this being done.


Gearbox ratios:

  1200: 2101,
21011, 2102,
1600: 2106,
Niva (4-speed)*
Riva: 2107,
2104, 2105,
Niva (4-speed)**
Riva: 2107,
2104, 2105,
Niva (5-speed)
 Seat 124  Fiat 124
 1  1:3.75  1:3.242  1:3.667  1:3.667  1:3.242  1:3.667
 2  1:2.30  1:1.989  1:2.100  1:2.100  1:1.989  1:2.100
 3  1:1.49  1:1.289  1:1.361  1:1.361  1:1.289  1:1.361
 4  1:1.00  1:1.000  1:1.000  1:1.000  1:1.000  1:1.000
 5  -  -  -  1:0.82  1:0.789  1:0.881
 R  1:3.87  1:3.340  1:3.53  1:3.53  1:3.340  1:3.526

* Maybe some 2107s & Nivas

** Maybe not; see discussion

If you're unsure what box is in your Niva, or what the 'box is you've just bought of Ebay? See below on how to work out which is which without taking it apart


International Off-Roader Article: Niva Swaps its Box

Niva low ratio gearbox swap

Niva low ratio gearbox swap

Niva low ratio gearbox swap



How to determine gearbox model?

(Author: Melegh Gábor (gm), last revised: 2007-01-12)

Can the gearbox type/model be recognized by its casing?
Can I measure the ratio somehow on a gearbox not removed from the car?
Unfortunately the gearboxes are not labeled, all the covering parts of it have the same part number. The speedometer cable pinion is the easiest to remove, but forget that - its teeth number reflects to the differential ratio, not to the gearbox ratio(s). On a used Lada there can be any differential (1:3.9, 1:4.1, 1:4.3, 1:4.44), you cannot determine the gearbox of it.
The most informative method is to put the gearbox into 2nd gear, and turn the crank carefully, about 2 turns. (720 degrees). Before doing that, mark the drive-shaft with a chalk. Now, you have about 2.00 turns on the crankshaft (gearbox input). Examine the drive-shaft and slightly adjust the crankshaft while the drive-shaft (gearbox output) shows exactly one turn. To do that, you have to creep under the car and back out a few times.
1 turn on the drive-shaft needs almost 2 turns on the crankshaft, if it was a 2106 gearbox.
2.1 means 2105,
2.3 means 2101.
I don't recommend removing the bottom cover of the gearbox. Theoretically you can count the teeth of the input drive-wheel (28 teeth or 29 teeth). You can also examine the 1st gear gearwheel: 14 or 15 teeth. Practically this won't work since you cannot mark the starting tooth of your count. The greasy-oily-dirty mixture within the gearbox and covering the cogwheels will clear any marks you make.


Also see:

Low-ratio Diff swaps

Low-ratio Transfer-case modifications

Fault finding & Rebuilding the Gearbox




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