If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This maxim applies to many iconic automobiles, the sort of cars that outlived their peers for one reason for another. The Land Rover Series/Defender comes to mind, as does the Morgan 4/4, Suzuki Jimny, and the mighty Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Over in Russia, Lada has a celebration on its hands because the current year marks the fortieth anniversary of the 4X4.
“The what?” The Lada 4X4, as in the current trade name for the Niva. “You mean that Niva, the one so tough it is was used in Antarctica by the men and women of the Bellingshausen research station?” Yup, that tough old bird.
Approved for production in ’77, the Niva is way more than meets the eye. Not only is it the first-ever off-road vehicle gifted with unibody construction, but the box-shaped Niva came as standard with independent front suspension. And that was 1977, the year Apple Computer was incorporated.
And naturally, the good old Niva is extremely proficient at going off the beaten track. It’s no wonder that an old ad for the UK-spec model promised, “The best value on the road. Or off it.” And the simple fact it reached its 40th anniversary without too many changes brought to the overall shape and chassis, the Russian four-by-four is an automotive icon in its own right.
This gets us to the 40th Anniversary Edition, which will be built in very limited numbers. More to the point, from serial number 0001 to 1977. Slated to arrive at dealers in Russia from June onward, the most tell-tale sign this is no ordinary Niva comes in the form of the two-tone alloy wheels and a pair of eye-catching 40th Anniversary badges located on the front fenders.
The interior, meanwhile, features bright orange detailing for the instrument cluster and the 40th Anniversary logo on the floor mats and eco-leather seats. Other than that, this is just your average Niva. On a slight tangent, word has it AvtoVAZ plans to introduce an all-new Lada Niva in 2018.