lada niva paris dakar 1981

A Lada Niva For Almost 80.000 Euros?


You've probably heard the term lately "Planned obsolescence". Although its pronunciation is hell for any student of Spanish, the truth is that this fact is very present in our day to day. Have you never been bothered by a charger just right, right at that specific point where the cable connects with the plug? How many appliances have you had to do without because, although in general they were in good condition, they had been damaged by that small part that is not worth repairing?

All this responds to the fact that, if things were not spoiled ... Consumption would drop drastically and with it the rhythm of the market economy. However, in the Soviet Union this was not the case: most of the things were done with the intention of lasting, to the point that the legend runs about a state watchmaking company that put the lock on the few sales registered due to the extreme durability of your watches. Something like manufacturing with the duration of Rolex ... But selling with the prices of Casio. The accounts cannot go out.

This spirit of toughness not only made watches, but also cars that, although they are not the height of passion when it comes to aesthetic sensations, have a reliability that is proof of those same pumps with which it is used. Soviet Russia lived in a state of permanent paranoia. And of all of them there is a representative that fascinates many of us: the Lada Niva. Unbreakable, capable of climbing on any side, easy to repair… It is like one of those country grandmothers who at 85 years old continue to grow but made of rubber and metal.

Well, now think about one of these SUVs with the spirit of a military tank adapted to one of the toughest rallies in history: the 1981 Paris-Dakar, in which only 59 of the 170 cars that took the start made it to the finish. It exists, and this September 5, Sotheby's will auction it for a price that… It makes us think about how the classics market is doing.


Prepared to compete in the third edition of the Paris-Dakar by Francis Jeanson -Due to a photograph in which he seems to be the one who comes out next to the car, we think that it is indeed the Gallic philosopher himself allied with the FLN during the Algerian War of Independence- this Lada from 1979 is one of the 12 Niva registered in the 1981 Dakar edition.

A quite spectacular car since, to the hardness of the model is added a series of adaptations that make it a dominator of the desert: among them we find the replacement of the original tailgate, doors and hood with others made of plastic in order to lighten weight, the assembly of a gasoline tank with greater capacity, the welding of protections along the entire bodywork, a suspension still more resistant than the one mounted as standard and the equipment with extra lights in case the dark night came upon you in the sands.

Some improvements that made more effective this severe Russian endowed with a 4 × 4 drive capable of assuming the thrust of a 4-cylinder engine of FIAT origin that, although it does not even reach 80CV, it is capable of sliding through the sands thanks to its perseverance, reliability working in extreme conditions and ease of repair on the fly.

All this controlled by a transmission that needs three levers to be driven: the main one to change between its four speeds, that of the transfer case to convert the model into an 8-speed model and, finally, that of the differential block that distributes power between the front and rear axles.


For a long time we have been talking in concentrations, fairs and magazines that in the world of classics the same thing that happened with the real estate market is happening to us: we are in the middle of the price bubble. It is true that there are signs that the situation is deflating, but see how This September 5, the auction house Sotheby's plans to sell this Lada Niva 4 × 4 Dakar 1981 for between 55.000 and 80.000 euros ... It gives food for thought.

Because okay, we are talking about a car that participated in one of the toughest Dakar in history, but at the end of the day not stop being a Niva which, by the way, does not have a privileged track record to justify the value of the vehicle since it even came to the end of the rally.

This entire economic situation becomes even more bizarre when we dive into the history of the car and verify that, until 2009, it was owned by its first owner -the aforementioned Francis Jeanson-, who He sold it through the Bonhams auction house for 4.600 euros. Between 12 and 16 times less than the price that is expected for it just 9 years later! In addition, although mechanically it seems to be perfect ... Nor is it that they are delivering it in the best possible condition.

Who knows, even if it is to go against the times and take the example of an economic experiment that did not end well precisely ... Perhaps it would not be altogether bad to recover some of the financial modesty of those Russian factories where, for a realistic price, they offered such unbreakable objects as the clocks Poljot or Lada Niva themselves.

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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