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Craigslist: 1998 Lada Niva in Los Angeles

Kamil Kaluski July 7, 2015 Hooniverse Truck Thursday 22 Comments

lada nive in los anglees front

The Lada Niva. Some call it the best Soviet vehicle ever made. It’s so good, that they still make it. It’s so good that my father, who lives in Poland, is on his second one. I spent a full day driving it and I wasn’t so smitten by it; manual steering, not enough power, and overall just not up to par to western vehicles produced in the 1990s. It was tiresome, but for communist Soviet times, it was great, and it sure would make a great novelty car in the U.S.

I once toyed with the idea of bringing an Eastern Bloc car from Poland to the United States. Back then they were still dirt cheap, but lately a wave of patriotism and cult following has developed for these cars, bringing sales prices up with it. Add $2000-$3000 for import fees and I’d be lucky to break even on an eventual sale, not calculating the time and stress needed to legally register such vehicle.

lada nive in los anglees rear

From the ad:

1998 Lada Niva 4×4 For Sale! – $9500 (Glendale)

The moment many people have been waiting for. For those that don’t know what car this is, definitely do not waste your time reading this. One of only 3 Lada Niva 4×4 in the United States (to the best of my knowledge) is for SALE! So here is the deal. Don’t waste our time or your time. No “test drives”, I know how eager many people are to drive this car, but ours is definitely not a “test drive” vehicle.

The car was imported. I have all the paperwork needed. The car is not registered, but indeed we can introduce you to a person that can help with the process.

The car doesn’t NEED a paint job, but it would definitely look better with one. The battery probably has to be replaced, but nothing major needed. After all it is a Niva.

People look at this car in such a way they look at Lamborghinis and Ferraris. It is absolutely hilarious and you will enjoy every second of it.

To buy the car AS IS, the price is $9,500 firm. Good price to not waste our time with the negotiation process. You think you can get a better price somewhere else? Please go ahead and find one. For the car to be painted, fixed up fully, we are asking $14,000 OBO (Obviously don’t offer $9,500). This will require a deposit as well.

Contact me before we change our mind. Car like this is a once in a lifetime thing to find. Feel free to text or call with any questions, but serious inquiries only (Armenian, English and Russian). Thank you.

lada nive in los anglees rear rear

I contacted my man from zlomnik.pl, Poland’s most respected automotive journalist (at least in my opinion) and I asked him how much a Niva like this costs in Poland. His answer was approximately $1000. He said that this one looks a bit tired (note that the ad does not state the odometer reading) and that the newer vertical taillight models do not have the youngtimer classic appeal. He also said that there are two in his Warsaw neighborhood rotting away.

That said, this is North America. Despite what the ad says, there are certainly more than three in the United States because they were sold in Canada, and I know that one of our readers from Michigan owns one. It’s still a rare vehicle, no doubt about it, but it’s neither a classic nor is this one in concours winning condition like this VAZ 21033 or the Zil that I recently drove. Furthermore, due to its year of production, registering it in the U.S. maybe very difficult. I am very curious to know what it actually sells for.

Source: Los Angeles Craigslist

  • “Furthermore, due to its year of production, registering it in the U.S. maybe very difficult.”

    Standard black-market rant from a grey-market enthusiast: Registering it in the U.S. is easy. Registering it in the U.S. without violating Federal law, however, is impossible, no matter what that “person that can help with the process” may say or imply.

    • Tomsk

      And even if it was old enough to appease the Feds, forget about registering it here in CA.

    • HycoSpeed

      I feel like with cars especially there is FEDERAL LAW, and then there is “federal law”. Does any sort of investigatory/regulatory/enforcement body really care if someone drives around in a 1998 Lada? It seems like the state of California would have more emotional involvement in the whole thing for this particular automobile, where a slightly more laissez faire state might be perfectly happy just to get registration monies from you every year.

      I am not exactly advocating anyone to thumb their nose at the law, but it seems like no one cares, and if no one cares, maybe it is a dumb law and should stop?

      I only bring this up because reasons. http://cars.oodle.co.uk/detail/land-rover-defender-90-2008-08-manual-diesel-69-000-miles/3959225102-staplehurst-ken-en/?cm_mmc=OODLE_PREVIEW-_-www-_-NA-_-NA

      • The Feds seem to care mostly about the higher-profile or higher-volume illegal imports, but (1) one never knows and (2) it’s all fun and games until there’s an injurious or fatal collision, at which point the owner will need to explain to some skeptical insurance investigators and possibly to some law-enforcement types just why this noncompliant and clearly illegal car was on the road here. To each his own but I don’t want to be in that position.

      • TheLight

        Yes, the feds do care. They seize illegally imported cars all the time and the owners usually have no recourse to get them returned and since the seller is usually overseas, good luck getting your money back from them. It’s not their fault you didn’t know the rules for importing cars into whatever country you live in. I see it happen a lot with Land Rovers illegally imported from England and a lot of late model Japanese high performance cars like Skyline GT-R’s that are less than 25 years old. People pay through the nose for these vehicles only to have the feds turn up at their door with a tow truck a few weeks later. Whoever buys this car, even if they stick in their garage out of sight until it turns 25, is still going to have a problem because they now have a car of the right age, but without proper documentation showing that it was imported legally and it could still be seized.

  • Lokki

    I lived in Panama for several years in the 90’s. Panama is a country that, through a variety of circumstances, a pretty much an “anything that runs, goes” country. Lots and lots of unusal cars arrive there because of the canal and a few of every make stay there. So, my first Ssyong ( http://www.ssangyong.az ) was sighted on the streets there for example.

    There were plenty of Lada’s being used as Taxi’s -probably only outnumbered by Toyota’s- as they were cheap, strong, and easy to repair, especially since parts were as near as the closest unattended Lada.

    Having said that, Niva’s were rare. I was in love with them at first, figuring that a cheap, tough 4×4 would be just the ticket in a jungled, undeveloped, forever rainy-season Central-American country. I wanted one, just run around in the countryside for a few years and then dump when I left. Up into the mountains, or off to the beach- Hell yeah! However my “Zonie” (American Citizens born in the canal zone who had never visited the States) friends talked me out of it. The story was that they were terribly built, not particularly reliable, and not really very good in the jungle. Even for less than $10 K new, not a good deal they said. They didn’t drive a lot of Jeeps either though. A Toyota, ideally a Land Cruiser if you were rich enough, was the answer.

    • Sjalabais

      Much the same in Europe – Nivas are driven by hunters and forest administrators. It’s either that or a G. Jeeps are known as unreliable crap, they are assembled at Steyr in Austria though. Japanese cars are for those who care most about driving, less about style.

  • Sjalabais

    You drove a ZIL?

    Anyway, what a repelling ad. Trying to sell something it helps to

    A) Conjur up a positive mood
    B) Leisurely answer all your customers questions before they think of it themselves

    It’s lacking in both respects, and I haven’t even started about the price. Keep in mind that a new Niva, as in 2015-model, is 10500$ in Germany with all the EU-papers in place.

    • mve

      It’s a cool car because it’s a Niva, but I agree. Overpriced and the seller sounds like a total d*ck.

  • Jofes2

    Wait, what ZIL? What have I missed? Is there an article?

  • mzszsm

    If you take every AWD or 4×4 car for sale in Poland three years ago and compare that to what it sells for used today, Lada Niva is NUMBER ONE! * https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-abHI_chi2fU/VZPUtMOKmAI/AAAAAAAAjos/ZXZkvZOIUB8/s2048/SCAN0894.JPG

    * in falling price – by almost 50%

    • Sjalabais

      Even more of a reason to buy one NOW. Just not in LA.

  • dukeisduke

    It’s only 17 years old – good luck keeping the Feds off of your back.

  • nanoop
  • Van_Sarockin

    I always thought the Niva was rather like the Samurai: the cheapest rugged object that could do the job. This is very good. The price, less so.

  • 1977ChevyTruck

    There are around 5 on Kijiji in Canada.


    I really want one, mostly because I like being different.

    My dad is old enough to have vague remembrances of Soviet cars being sold new. This is how my conversation went with him:

    -“Hey Dad, look at this cool Lada…”
    -“You want a WHAT?”

    Of course, he also was surprised I wanted a Taurus…

  • Heinz957

    That thing is an old rusty shitpiece. If you want one, import a new one from europe. $9500 is a complete scam. This thing will probably fall apart after 5 miles, thats why there is no test driving. Trust me I am from europe and I already had 2 Nivas.

    • TheLight

      The problem is that you can’t import a new one. Not to the US, at least. They have to be 25 years old or older unless Lada opens a dealer network and submits one to crash testing, fuel economy testing, and emissions testing which is a lot more expensive than a trip to your local inspection station. If that ever happened, then you still have to be able to sell enough of them to justify doing it and since this thing is basically the 4×4 equivalent of a Yugo, it will probably fail within a few years just like the Yugo did.

  • Giray Yalçın Armağan

    you’re better off ordering a wife from russianwife.com for $9.5k
    hey that includes flight, too!

    • TheLight

      *Insert Russian mail order bride joke here*

  • TheLight

    Anyone who buys this had better be prepared to have it seized by the feds if they ever get wind of it. A foreign car not approved for sale in the US must be 25 years old and there is a process that you have to go through to make it legal to own in the US. Without proper documentation, you are putting your money at risk.