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Noll's '82 Lada Niva

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Just found this part of the forum, and I've been working on this car for a while and documenting it elsewhere, so I figure I might was well post it up here too.


Some backstory. Back in early 2015, a prior neighbor of my family (from before we moved) let me know that an elderly gentleman who he had been taking care of for a number of years had just passed away, and a Lada Niva was found in his garage. He, knowing that I was into cars, offered to sell it to me for very cheap. At the time, I didn't really know what a Niva was, but there was a possibility for me to get an essentially free car, so I jumped at the chance.

It turned out that "garage" in this context was a very liberal use of the term, so a bit of time was spent extricating the Niva from the half collapsed remains of a shed; one main beam stopped 1-2cm from hitting the front end:












Got it home, and promptly got the tow truck stuck:




Dog approved:




Fast-forward to December of last year, and it is largely unchanged. I did manage to get it running (just needed a new starter solenoid, started right up with the 15 year old gas in the tank), and cleaned out the inside & stripped a lot of the surface rust off, but it has three major roadblocks to getting it on the road:

- clutch plates rusted together

-brakes are siezed and need a rebuild

-rust; while the car only has 22000km on it, 15 years with half a roof was not kind to it. Behind the front arches needs work, as does in front of the rears, as well as the rear wheel arches themselves.


On the plus side:

- the 1st owner (I'm the 2nd) never drove it in bad weather or the winter; the rust is just from sitting.

- everything electrical works perfectly and is original.

-interior is pretty much perfect other than a couple dangling wires and one small rip in the driver's seat.

- fuel system is good, too; car happily started right up after the solenoid replacement with the 15 year-old gas (until it ran out of gas lol).

-doors, hatch, and hood are fine other than a few minor bits of rust on the bottom door seams.




I decided to tackle the rust first, and bought 500$ of stuff from the Ukraine. Not bad value for money at all to be honest.




Starting on the driver's side front quarter rust.








Cleaned up a bit:




Layers of badness:






Chopped out neatly:






and from behind:




I didn't think the floor was this bad, but oh well, not a huge deal:




Floor removed:




body trimmed up and new fender piece mocked up:





Luckily new subframe bits are available pre-made, saves me a lot of work. the one on the other side is even worse than this:




Front panel rust turned out to just be surface, so that's nice:




In addition to all this, I replaced a few gaskets in the carb and exhaust system, but this is already pic-heavy enough as-is and I'm sure you've all seen similar stuff before.


I'm going to have a chance to work on the Niva for a week as of this Saturday, so I'm going to be updating this as I weld in the floor (I hope) and related bits. Planning on getting this on the road before I continue on my basketcase 260z so my family at least has some of their garage back haha.

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That's badass!


Thanks! It's an oddball old car for sure (2-door hatchbacks with locking diffs and hi/lo are surprisingly uncommon for SOME reason haha), but super cool IMO. Can't wait to finally get it on the road before too long.

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Is it 4 wheel drive? That is awesome!


Yep, full-time 4WD, and also has locking centre diff (I'm going to get air lockers for the front and rear at some point), and a hi/lo range box too.


Enough ground clearance that I can work on it underneath without jacking it up, which is nice.

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Nice, we have special shop in here that sells new parts for these things. The are dirt cheap and as all russian stuff they are made in the same old soviet "quality" as everthing else ( read, you need to adjust, grind, bend, veld, drill to make them fit). You can run these things forever with some wire and basic tools.

PS. The still make them. http://www.lada.ru/en/cars/4x4/3dv/about.html

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Thanks, guys!


@Aibast, Yep, I've been getting most of my replacement bits from Ladapower.com in the Ukraine; as you say, cheap but need some work to fit nicely. I believe it's one of the longest produced 4x4's of all time, correct?


EDIT: The great parts availability is doubly nice, as my next planned project after my 260z is likely going to be SR20 swapping a Lada 1300 or 1600.




So, I attempted to start welding the drivers-side wheel well today, but I currently only have .030 flux core wire, and either couldn't get good penetration or kept blowing holes in the metal.


I don't currently have the budget to get a tank of shielding gas, as I got the mother of all speeding tickets a couple weeks ago (long story, I am an idiot), so it looks like I'll be limited to continuing to cut bad metal out of the drivers-side of the car this week.


A pic of my failure:



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What polarity is your stinger? It looks like you might have to reverse that. MIG uses ground strap as negative. Flux core uses the stinger as negative. Check that and see if it improves your results.

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What polarity is your stinger? It looks like you might have to reverse that. MIG uses ground strap as negative. Flux core uses the stinger as negative. Check that and see if it improves your results.


I'm pretty sure I set it as it should be for flux core, but I'll have a look in a few minutes and check.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I was visiting family this weekend, and decided to get the hood back on. Not really much of an update, but It's good to have it back on after two years of it just lying on the roof of the car.


Depending on whether or not I'm able to pick up a pretty rust free 240Z that I've been looking at over the next couple weeks, I may be buying a fair amount of parts for the Niva to hopefully have it on the road for next spring (as it's wayyyy closer to done than my 260z).






After taking this pic I realized that you can actually see 4 of my cars in it; in addition to the 260 and Niva, my red Outback is slightly visible in the hood reflection, as is one of my two Subaru Justys.



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  • 1 month later...

I visited family a couple weeks back (college reading week), and wanted to get some progress done on this during the week I was there.


I've decided to work on this car in sections so I have a decent amount of visual progress to keep myself motivated. I started with the brakes; I'll still need to buy some more brake parts, but I got a good chunk of stuff done.


The first batch of parts I ordered:




New hardlines and hoses in. The drivers side was pretty simple, but the passengers side was a bit of a pain due to how far back the engine sits. They're not plumbed to the calipers yet for reasons that will become apparent. At some point I will strip all 4 wheelwells, POR15 (or RustBullet), and then bedliner/undercoat them properly.




With that done, I cleaned up the calipers and tried to remove the bleeder screws. Unfortunately one bleeder screw on each caliper completely stripped out, and neither heat nor vicegrips would remove them.




I ended up drilling out the stuck screws, and at some point will run a tap through to uncover the threads.





Moving onto the rear drums, I took everything apart (drums came off super easily, which is nice), cleaned it, and swapped new pads on while I had everything apart (the new pads came with the car and were old enough they had a disclaimer to say that they were now made without asbestos).




The backing plates were a bit rusty, so I removed all the loose rust and applied some rust-coat paint (that coincidentally also came with the car and was from the late 80's. Still good though!). There's some paint runs/drips, but it is just to prevent rust from reforming and will never be seen, so who cares.





I then removed the main front skidplate, wire-wheeled it to remove rust, loose paint, and undercoating, and gave it a few coats of bedliner (no pics of the finished product unfortunately). I don't know how good the bedliner will do, but I'm hopeful, and worst-case it's easy to touch up.





I'm going to need to do the same to the suspension (front and rear) at some point too, as all the paint has flaked off, and combined with flakes of rust it generally needs a good cleanup. I'm thinking of doing the front control arms and rear axle in grey (as opposed to black like the rest of the underside) so i can better see any damage that  may occur when offroading.





A few other misc pics. It was good to have some proper time to work on my cars again.









Still to do/get with the brakes:

- center hardlines

- front caliper pistons (one is stuck, may as well get the kit to have spares)

- see if rear brake pressure regulator needs replacing

- rear wheel cylinders

- front brake splash guards to replace rusted ones

- get replacement rear brake t-fitting

- weld bolt on rear axle to replace one the broke off in the old T-fitting when removing old hardlines

- possibly get new front rotors

- misc brake hardware


There is a rear disc conversion kit available, so I'm debating purchasing that at some point too:



I'll order the rest of the brake parts that I need so they arrive during the xmas brake from college (if I want to go out in the cold to work on the car haha).

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I think that's just the pic; they aren't attached to anything at the bottom (and there's nothing for them to get caught on), and the suspension was at normal ride height.


EDIT: also, the brackets that the hoses are supposed to attach to under the upper balljoint are completely rusted out, so until I get/or make new brackets (probably will purchase as they're super cheap) they're just dangling there.

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  • 3 months later...

It's been a bit since I've done anything on the Niva because of the winter, so i decided to bring some small stuff inside and work on it in the warm.


First order of business was a pair of panels that bolt inside the front wheelarches and are supposed to keep mud out of a rust-prone area. Unfortunately mud was allowed to sit in there for quite some time, rusting the removable panels as well as the body of the car (as seen in a previous post).


New panels are available, but are a bit hard to find, and I had the materials to make some of my own sitting around, so that's what I decided to do. No pictures of the process, but it was pretty standard; trace, cut, bend, drill. The new ones are much lighter, and not going to rust due to being aluminum, which is great.


I will be picking some rivets up tomorrow to attach the rubber liners.







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that looks like stock stuff you made. Soviet cars most had regular galvanized sheet + rubber on the edges fitted in the wheel wells to keep the from rusting out (didn't help a whole lot). The best cars that are still driving today in here are the ones that leaked oil all the time. Result was bottoms with constant oiling  :rofl:

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