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Lada Niva really handy stuff

Niva technical resources & modifications.




Welcome international Nivaesti family.

When I first bought my Niva I started collecting helpful do-it-yourself maintenance and modification resources off the ’net. Sadly within a year or so, many useful Niva sites & resources, especially English language ones, started disappearing — hence the creation of this website to save such knowledge and keep it easily available to the world.

The site is focused on Niva 1600s, but much of it also applies to later Nivas.

If you have a resource that would be helpful to other Lada Niva owners and would like it added here, please contact me.

Please note, I can not vouch for the trustworthiness of all of this info and see the disclaimer below.

Files are an eclectic mixture of web-pages, Word docs, images, and PDFs sorry. Most are in English language.

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General Niva Info
  • Advice for Newbies - Welcome to the world of Lada Niva ownership, now here's a couple of things I wish I had known... Essential resource
  • Also see Buyers Guide (UK) - magazine article (4x4Mart, May 2006)
  • Also see Buyers Guide (Aussie) - magazine article (Australian 4x4 Monthly)
  • Also see Niva as a Daily Driver? (Baxter)
  • Also see Niva Rejuvenation article (French) (4x4 Mondial, N.105, 2010)
  • Lada Niva 1600 Owner's Manual - handy resource (1.1M)
  • Full Niva Workshop Manuals (AvtoVaz, c/o Gadgetboy ) - 1600, 1700, injected, & Diesel Highly recommended
  • Parts Catalogue (AvtoVaz, c/o Gadgetboy ) - part numbers for every single part of your Niva 2121/3/4/5/7, and specs for every bolt etc.
  • Parts Drawings and Numbers (AvtoVaz/Cloggy)
  • Hi-res Disassembly Photos - text in Russian, but quality photos of of almost every job, including: gearbox strip-down, CVs, brakes & suspension disassembly, etc...
  • James May Reviews Niva - Nivas are on sale again (TopGear Magazine, Jan 2011)
  • Niva Development History (Ivan Shevelenko) - a comprehensive history of the development of the Niva with lots of prototype and pre-production images (1.3M)
  • World's Longest Production 4x4 (Baxter) - Land Rover? G-Wagen? Nope, it's the Lada Niva. New
  • Lada Oddities (Baxter) - a hand-full of odd things you probably didn't know about Lada & the Niva.
  • Marx For Beginners (Rius) - the USSR may have become a "revolution betrayed", but what was the Soviet Union originally trying to achive? Further Reading .

    General Niva Improvements
  • Random Handy Modifications - make your Niva more versatile, comfortable, & easier to live: door pockets, raised seat brace, tighter turning circle, water-proofing, etc...
  • Larger door-mirrors - like to be able to see when reversing or changing lane? (Mk 1).
  • Shift the lightswitch - make sure you never switch the lights off instead of the heater (Mk 1 only).
  • Seat Swap (Baxter) - mount the seats from a Honda etc in the Niva.
  • Fold the Seats into a Bed (various) - My conversion, some badly translated Russian ones (images look simple to follow), and pics of a couple of others.
  • Oil Gauge Calibration (Szentirmai) - yep, I panicked too the first time I looked at my oil gauge at idle (200K).
  • Soundproofing (Andrei/Baxter) - yes, it can be done relatively easily (500K).
  • Tail-light & Indicator Protectors (Patrick Sandre) - stylish looking homemade tail-light and side-light guards for Mk1 Niva. New
  • Power Steering (Cloggy) - Toyota Cressida steering-box into a Niva.
  • Heater-fan Upgrade (Jack, 400K), Heater Upgrade2 (crb247, 1.5M) - replace your tired old fan with a modern one.

    Niva Engine Upgrades & Service
  • Timing-chain Adjustment - dead easy and Essential.
  • Oils for the Niva (Baxter et al) - grades and volumes for the engine, gearbox, TC, and diffs etc.
  • Alejandro's guide to more power (Alejandro Gabatel) - tips to ringing a few more hp out of the Lada lump.
  • Weber Carburetor Swap guide (Baxter et al) - cheapest and easy mod to up your power and drivability; if you can find a good Weber these days. Popular
  • Carburetor to Injection Swap (Mats Ahlberg) - convert a carburetor Niva to single throttle-body injection.
  • Junkyard Injection Swap (Torok Imre) - convert a Carburetor Niva to multipoint-injection using junkyard parts (600K).
  • Electronic Ignition Swap - swap in an electronic distributor from a later model Niva (500K).
  • High Compression Cylinder Heads - Riva 1200 head swap and head planning.
  • 1600 Engine Rebuild Part 1 (2M) and Part 2 (1M) (Alejandro Gabatel)
  • Fiat DOHC Engine Swap - Need more power or torque? Cloggy's full write-up of a DOHC swap, power-steering, and more.
  • Also see Giving a Niva More Grunt - Fiat DOHC swap article (International Off-Roader, March 1993), and photos of various DOHC swaps

    Niva Gearbox & Transfer-case
  • Gearbox Over-fill - easy & Essential protection for your gearbox.
  • Gearbox Removal (Huffman) - how to remove the gearbox (2.6M)
  • Gearbox Removal (Ahlberg) - with handy pictures
  • Diagnosing & Rebuilding the Gearbox (Volodjushka & others) - fixing the Niva's only real weakness .
  • Gearbox Bearing Alternatives (Ahma)
  • Fiat Gearbox Swap info - it's 90mm longer, but handily it's bell-housing bolts to Niva engine (30K).
  • Transfer-case Alignment - mysterious tranny vibrations (ew, er)? Try these fixes. Popular
  • Some Doughnut tricks (Various)
  • Low-ratio Gearbox Swap (Baxter et al) - includes magazine article (International Off-Roader, Feb 1993).
  • Low-ratio Transfer-case Modifications - lower your TC's low ratio gear; includes the "French Crawler Mod".
  • Doughnut joint Double CV Substitute (Stief) - replace the doughnut and universal with 2 CV joints (100K).
  • See also Double CV Joint - more of the same (200K).
  • Transfer-case Braces & Mount Upgrades (Baxter) - Beefed-up TC mounts or braces to minimise damage and vibrations.
  • Gearbox, Transfer box, Tyre and Wheel Ratio Calculator external link (Neil Chowney)

    Niva Tricks, Tips & Replacements etc
  • Alternative Parts that fit Nivas (Baxter et al) - please feel free to e-mail me (address above) substitutes you've tested that work - and ones that don't work.
  • Other Fiat 124 Based Cars (Baxter et al) - what else can I crib other bits off?
  • Removing the Starter-motor - it's fiddly on a rhd, best to do it from underneath with a ratchet, long extension, and uni-joint.
  • Steering Tracking, Camber & Castor Adjustment (Hoodoo)
  • Fix that Crappy Steering - feel like '50s truck steering? Sort that weaving, wooliness or bucking bronto...
  • Rust (Baxter) - common Niva rust traps & prevention.
  • Windscreen-washer Pump Overhaul (unknown author) (2M)
  • DIY Crank-start Handle (Huffman et al)

    Niva Electrics
  • Good 1600 (2121) Wiring Diagrams - good copy with colours of the wires visible, and a guide.
  • Good 1700 (21213/4) Wiring Diagrams
  • Wiring diagram cyrillic colour guide external link (Gadgetboy )
  • Electrical Improvements (Giovanni) - an automotive electrician's electrical upgrades
  • Ignition-barrel Wiring & Removal (Ahma)
  • High-output Alternator Swap (Huffman) (100K)
  • Wiring an Internally-regulated Alternator into a 1600 - (SimonAllen)
  • Electric Radiator Fan - with kill switch for water-crossings, see below in Off-Road Mods
  • Raised Alternator Brackets - keep your alternator out of the river, see below in Off-Road Mods

    Niva Wheels & Tyres
  • Tyres (Baxter) - how big can I go?
  • Other vehicles with Niva PCD / wheel stud pattern (Baxter) - what can I borrow rims off?
  • Guard Trimming (Baxter) - dolly or cut back your wheel-arches to fit larger tyres.

    Niva Brakes, Diffs, & CVs
  • Rear Brake Adjustment (Baxter) - do it once (well, once every 6 months or so) and do it right.
  • Front Brakes (GM404) - freeing sticky pistons and replacement seals.
  • Brake Regulator-valve Adjustment
  • Front CV Joint Disassembly & Rebuild (Alejandro Gabatel) (3.5M)
  • CV Boot replacement (Jonno)
  • Rear Disk Conversion (Niva Nuts) (400K)
  • See Also Canadian Rear Disc Conversion - lots of photos (1M)
  • Self-adjusting rear brake upgrade - Content needed; Anyone got pics and write-up of this swap?
  • Ford Diff into a Riva Housing
  • Low-ratio Diff swap
  • LSD & Diff-lock options (Baxter)
  • Protrack Diff-lock (Hoodoo) - fitting notes and report.
  • Fiddle/Cutting Brake aka Poor Man's LSD - a twin handbrake set-up that can simulate aspects of an LSD (1.3M).

    Niva Off-road Upgrades & Modifications
  • Raising Niva (Baxter et al) - Niva lift options for better ground clearance or to fit bigger tyres; includes world famous DIY Hoodoo 2 inch wedge lift. Very Popular
  • Also see Hoodoo Lift Fitting Instructions (Jonno)
  • Also see Tube Lift (Dalibor Lon) - a variation on the Hoodoo, using tubes instead of wedges (1M).
  • Also see Hoodoo Mk2 (ring) Prototype Install (Baxter) - all around rubber ring lift (avoids raising coil platform).
  • Also see Niva Gets a Lift - coil lift magazine article (International Off Roader, October 1992)
  • Also see Body Lift - Simon Allen's guide to a Niva x-member lift (600K).
  • Also see Body Lift - a Spanish guide to cross-member lifts (Spanish) (900K).
  • Increased Articulation (Cloggy) - remove 40mm from all of the front bump-stops and remove the front anti-roll bar...
  • Tow-hook Mounts - Cloggy's 50x50mm box-section solution to the Niva's lack of a "chassis" to mount hooks.
  • DIY Snorkels - aftermarket snorkels used to be difficult to source; PVC drainpipe can make a fine DIY alternative.
  • DIY Power-train Breathers (Alejandro) - keep water out of your diffs, gearbox and transfer-case.
  • DIY Raised Alternator Brackets (Hoodoo/Vipenzas) - keep your alternator out of the river (6M).
  • High output alternator swap - see above in Electrics; a bigger alternator will be needed if you're running a winch or high wattage additional lights, etc.
  • DIY Rock-sliders & Sill Upgrade - protect your sills from off-road damage.
  • Sump & Diff-guards, and other Armour
  • Body Reinforcement - see Paris-Dakar rally preparation below.
  • Bigger Tyres & Wheel-arch Trimming - see above under Wheels & Tyres.
  • Low-ratio Transfer-case & Low-ratio Gearbox - see above in Gearbox & TC.
  • Low-ratio Diff Swap - see above under Brake & Diffs.
  • LSD, Diff-lockers & Fiddle-brakes - see above in Brakes & Diffs.
  • DIY Cheap Sand-ladders - heavy, but look cheap, effective, and easy to make (100K).
  • Electric Radiator Fan - with kill switch for water-crossings
  • Reinforced Front Shock Mounts - stronger mounts for the front shocks (necessary if stiffer dampers are used).

    Well Sorted Nivas
  • The Full Hoodoo - A well thought out and prepared Niva for green-laning etc. Before going bananas with modifications this is a must read (1M).
  • Niva Nuts - a highly developed Niva built for exploring Australia's Outback, including LSD, disc rear, power steer, etc (1.3M).
  • Niva Hawk - magazine article about Nissan V6 powered racing Niva (Overlander, Nov 1989).
  • Ex-Works Hill Rally Niva - was once a great sounding bit of kit (1.4M).
  • V6 Niva - article on Simon Allen's Ford V6 conversion (4x4i magazine, Nov 2009) (1.5M).
  • Build your Niva to survive the Paris-Dakar Rally —Part 1 (1M) and —Part 2 (1M) - Poch's preparation manual (thanks greatly to Hoverfrog for the translation, French original here, 2M).
  • Also see Paris-Dakar Niva - (Spanish) (AutoMecánica, 1982). New
  • Chepic's trials Niva - images of a European trials Niva.

    Can't find what you need above?

    Also try searching:
    Facebook Niva groups
    There are many, this A-to-Z might help, or may not given the rapidly changing nature of Facebool (FB groups can evolve so quickly I can't say which is best or biggest at any given time)
    LadaUSA , LOSCA , Australian Niva Forum , & Lada UK Forum are the main English speaking Niva forums (like many forums they are dying since Facebook, however they are still a searchable gold-mine of previous information, and Lada UK has been made password access only and many of the useful contributors banned but the archives are useful if you're lucky enough to get access)
    Russian Niva FAQ (English/Spanish language section)

    Russian Niva FAQ (Russian language — lots more content than above)
    Mods & Accessories
    section of Baxter's Niva Gallery

    After-market Goodies section of Baxter's Links page


    Become a fan on Facebook

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    Got content other Niva owners could benefit from being hosted on this site?

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    Disclaimers, Credits, & Copyright

    Full Credit: These resources were originally saved just for personal use, so unfortunately I haven’t always collected authors’ names. If you can give me the credit details for a piece here please contact me.

    Copyright: Much of the resources here are not mine. Unless otherwise stated, please consider them under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or similar licence (ie basically you can't use them to make money without the owner's permission). They are reproduced here in the spirit of keeping hard-to-find Niva information online and available, and as far as I'm aware is not a problem with the authors or owners. If a resource here is yours and you don't want it on my site please let me know and I'll remove it.

    General Disclaimer: I can not vouch for the trustworthiness of all of this infomation. While the infomation posted is from mostly reasonably reliable or reliable looking sources, I am not a mechanic and I have not tested much of it myself. If you see something here that is misleading — or just plain wrong — PLEASE contact me.
    I take no responsibility if you do something suggested on this site and ruin your car, hurt yourself, or break laws of your country (however, if this does happen then please do tell me so I can update things). The information in this website does not hold its authors, owners or hosts liable for any damage or injuries sustained.
    No liability is expressed or implied for any use of this information. Beware that mechanical work, off-road driving, and life in general can be dangerous.

    Contact BaxterContact me


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