Thursday, June 19, 2014

1k: Расти Смерть: 1997 Lada Niva Cossack

 Some folks get positively obsessed about being different.  It starts with little things, like a black T-shirt, maybe a studded belt.  Later the obsession is manifested by a custom skull tattoo on your ankle, maybe a hoop earring or two...and the next thing you know you are driving into downtown Québec City to score some E on your way to a rave in a Lada Niva Cossack.  Want to be different, kids?  Beware of the consequences.  Find this 1997 Lada Niva Cossack offered for $1,850 CAD ($1702 USD) in Montréal, Québec, Canada.  Tip from Zach.

First a few questions: 1. What the heck is a Lada Niva Cossack?  2. How is a car from 1997 so rusty?  Okay, the second question is easy -- just see question number 1.  The Lada Niva is a compact sport utility vehicle built by Russian OE AvtoVAZ starting as far back as 1997.  The Cossack was an edition exported to the United Kingdom and this one somehow made its way across the pond to live and rust in Canada. 

Under the hood of the Niva Cossack is a 1.7 liter engine supplied by General Motors, which is probably the highlight of the Lada driving experience.  Everything else is going to be a thoroughly Russian affair, which means expect to spend a lot of time cursing, drinking Vodka, and shooting inanimate objects.

See a better red car?


  1. In MN, that would be described as "no rust"
    Also, that grill. Wow. What is that a 62 Chevy? Evocative of a Studebaker or International Harvester perhaps? It's quite nostalgic and tough looking. Is it stock?

  2. Aahh! The Lada Niva! A cult of personality exists around this humble and stalwart vehicle in Russia, Eastern Europe and the West. Among the Russian Community in Chicago there is a small but fervent group of follower for these tough little trucks. I've only seen them with Fiat engines but having a GM Mill certainly makes this one more attractive. I'm guessing an Ex-Pat Russian Revivalist snaps this one up and will proudly be driving it to May events next year.

  3. How is a car from 1997 so rusty you ask? In Quebec, it's not actually snow that lines the streets in winter, but rather mountains of salt. Unfortunately, the streets of Montreal eat cars in the winter.

  4. My first thought was hoping that Russian tanks are still made from the same steel. Then I realized that most Dodge Rams from 1997 are hampered by the same affliction.

  5. I do believe we got the nova cossack up here in Canada. I had an 87iirc and it was in much better shape as far as rust went. The problem was parts availability. My uncle grenades a starter and a flywheel while off roaring and stalling it in a rock pit. He bumped it out of the rocks on the starter and chewed 70% of the teeth off the flywheel. I sold the thing while still waiting for parts some six months later.

  6. This thing looks like it was designed in a way that would allow it to be assembled with a pair of hog ring pliers.

  7. So much misinformation up in here!
    My first issue with your article is likely just a typo, as the Niva has been in production since 1977, not 1997. It's still in production today, largely unchanged.
    My second issue is that the Cossack was mostly just an export model. I own one that was originally sold in Canada. Lada had dealers here up until the late '90's. I've never seen that particular body kit on a Canadian market Niva, but stranger things have happened. It doesn't fit very well, but frankly, neither do the factory plastic interior pieces. The biggest clue that it's not a British market car is that the steering wheel is on the correct side... the left side.
    My third issue is that only the engine management (i.e. fuel injection) was supplied by GM. The motor itself is still the same old Lada motor from the 70's with just some minor tweaks here and there.

    As to everything else being a Russian affair? Well, it depends on what you're looking for in a vehicle. My Niva is my daily driver, and so far has not given me anything I would consider reliability issues. The only major thing that has happened is the starter solenoid breaking in half, which didn't render the Niva useless, it merely meant that topography became more relevant to parking, but if a previous owner hadn't misplaced the crank-start handle, it wouldn't have been much of a concern at all. Thanks to the internet, it only took two weeks for some very reasonably priced parts to show up from Europe, and I was still driving the Niva to and from work every day. There's a saying among Lada owners: "Always half broken, but never broken down."


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