CC Capsule: Lada Niva–With A Drop Top And A Body Kit

We’ve already covered the regular Lada Niva as well as the rare pickup variant. Now let’s finish off the trifecta with the cabriolet.

In Canada, Lada Cabrios were sold only in 1992 and 1993. Only a handful were made–any one of which is an obviously rare find–but this example equipped with the SE body kit is especially scarce. The body kit was available briefly in the 1990s on both the regular Niva and the soft-top. Various other body kits, also designed to mask the Niva’s outdated styling, were offered in other countries as well.

The up-level alternative body panels were installed by the importer and not Lada itself. In Canada, the plastic bits were fitted during final assembly at Lada’s Halifax facility. (The Spanish-market example pictured above is courtesy of  Hugo 90.) They also received a totally useless hood blister and rear-pillar cladding. The plastics were generally not of high quality and prone to damage, especially off-road, so it is remarkable to see an intact survivor.

The Cabriolet was offered in several markets. Since conversions were handled by either local importers or outside specialists, both their quality and appearance vary by market. Canadian versions were well- equipped, at least by Lada standards. The brush bar, BSA alloy wheels and cloth seating from the Cossack all came standard. Quite a few also got an optional sunroof in addition to the rear soft top.


The tires on this example have thin white walls, and look especially undersized below the exaggerated plastic fender flares. That tow-hitch ball sticking out of the bumper puzzles me, though. The standard Niva bumper is a very lightweight aluminum piece not suitable for towing much of anything. This one has some Everest side panel graphics that presumably were dealer-added. Oddly enough, five years after this truck was built, Lada drove a handful of Nivas up to a Mt. Everest base camp (at a 5,200-meter elevation) as a publicity stunt. I doubt that any of them were equipped with this body kit.