My Niva  1 - The Story Begins  - May 6th, 2004


My Niva 2 - The story continues - modifications & repairs


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Having a passing interest in Nivas since the 1980s, when I owned a short wheelbase Landcruiser, I finally decided to buy one for myself for a number of reasons. Being rather limited in the finance department yet wanting to get back into a 4x4, I was looking at buying an oldie, like a HiLux or Pajero around the mid '80s, or getting into a later model Niva.


After looking at quite a few different makes and attending several auto auctions, I decided to look for a good Niva with a 1700cc engine and air-conditioning. The alternative vehicles in my price range were pretty beat up and done lots of k's, with small engine capacity and poor performance. In the end, the decision was not a difficult one.

After about a three month search, I finally found a little white Niva in excellent original condition in a auction/sales yard in Midland, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. It had already been in a few auction sales but not sold, and the owner was asking $8,000.

 I thought that was a ridicules price and told the salesman so, and that $4,000 would be a top price for this type of vehicle based on what I had observed in the local papers, which didn't impress him much. He said he would not even submit that to the owner, and that was that.


Two weeks later I noticed it was still in the yard, so called in and took it for a test drive (different salesman). The brake pedal went almost to the floor in normal braking, there were no turn signals, only one headlight and one tail light worked, the steering was very heavy (front tyre pressures were low), and my boot got caught on the broken plastic covering the gearbox hump every time I put my foot on the clutch.

But it was a '98 model, only done 38,000 kms, 1700i engine, air-con, rust-proofed and looked like it had never been off-road. It also had a nice bull-bar and spotties. The next day I emailed an offer of $3,500 and instructed them to take it to the owner. Two hours later I was the proud owner of my very own bouncing baby 4x4.

....and so the work begins. Having extensively researched Nivas on the internet, I had a good idea as to what to expect, so the electrical problems and quirky setup did not bother me. I fully new I was buying a "project" vehicle and looked forward to adding my own touch and personality. I am happy with the "uniqueness" of a Russian 4WD in the Australian market, as well as its good reputation off road and excellent fuel economy, simplicity of design, adaptability and cheap running costs.

As the up-grade project progresses, I will post more photos and commentary, as well as photos of trips we have taken. One of the reasons I wanted a 4x4 was to get to more places to take photos of the 'great outdoors'. I will be making a roof-rake for the Niva, with a solid floor and some sort of ladder system, to be used as a platform for photography.

 The first thing I did (after taking the photos of the original vehicle) was to remove the spare tyre from the engine bay. I will be purchasing a set mags and wide tyres soon, so this spare had to go. I will also be adding a second battery and other gear in the engine bay which will mean shifting things around a bit.  

 I will be removing the rear seat and building a storage system over a long-range fuel tank and water tank. This vehicle will be strictly a two seater - for me and the love-of-my-life. The front seats, though in good condition, will be replaced with something a bit more comfortable that also give better cradle support for off-road driving. An Engel fridge will also be purchased, along with a new tent, sleeping bags, etc.. 

 My wife and I travelled quite a bit in our earlier days and are looking forward to taking it up again now that we are in our fifties (yes, we are 'baby-boomers' - love Rock 'N' Roll and life and Jesus!). Cheers!




My Niva 2 - The story continues - modifications & repairs

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