This time of year – unless of course you live in SoCal, Australia or the south of Spain – you’re likely to be dreaming about a classic car which you don’t have to pamper. One which you can drive anywhere, at any time and in any weather too.
While we at ViaRETRO are always banging the drum about getting out there on the roads and enjoying your classic as it was meant to be, I must confess that even I do understand why you wouldn’t want to take your concours flat-floor E-type out onto heavily salt-infested winter roads. Or for that matter the family-owned Marina, which you’ve painstakingly spent the last three years restoring to perfection. So how are we then meant to satisfy our addiction through those cold and grim winter months?
Well, I’ve touched on the subject before: Off the Beaten Track
You need an off-roader! After all, they wear their battle-scars with pride, so you don’t need to live in fear of using it. In fact, an off-roader will only look better and more authentic with a solid amount of patina to it.
In the article “Off the Beaten Track”, among some true icons from the world of Four-by-Fours, I included the Lada Niva. Also known on its homemarket as the VAZ 2121, it was launched in 1977 as a tough and durable vehicle for the rural market of the Soviet Union, including harsh and remote areas like the Ural Mountains and Siberia. The development team at VAZ set out to design a compact hatchback body inspired by the original Renault 5 but placed on a Land Rover chassis. Ironic then that the development process went through so many different prototypes up through the seventies, that the final product actually ended up being the first mass-produced off-roader with a monocoque chassis, instead of a separate ladder frame chassis. There was of course also four-wheel-drive, a transfer case and even a lockable central differential. The utilitarian but endearing Niva proved its worth and became a huge sales success for VAZ – both within the Soviet and now Russia, as well as on export markets all around the globe. Its low weight and high ground clearance gives the Lada excellent off-road capabilities, and through continues development with new engines and various other updates the Lada Niva has stayed in production right up to this day.
Despite its success and not least a diehard following of enthusiasts, a second-hand Niva is still very much a budget entry-level classic. There’s a RHD UK-version coming up for auction on the 27th January in Norfolk in the UK. This Niva is from 1990, has five previous owners and a very low claimed 28.000 miles on the clock. It’s the Cossack version with bull bars front and rear, spot lights on the front and an externally mounted spare wheel on the rear, all of which lend it a distinct off-roader look. Granted, the Cossack seat covers are perhaps less cool with their typically cheap late eighties vibe, but at least it’s a fittingly functional interior. The Lada presents quite tidy in the pictures, as you would of course hope for with such a low mileage. There doesn’t appear to be any obvious rust, and even the engine bay looks good. The Niva also comes with the factory owners manual, service history, some old MOT certificates, a current MOT valid until September 2018 and a spare key. Here are some pictures borrowed from the auction catalogue:
The Lada Niva has an estimate of £ 3.500 – 4.500. If the little off-roader indeed checks out as well-kept as it’s presented on the auction website, then that seems like a whole lot of classic off-roader per pound! Have a look here for yourself:
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org