Niva - 45.
And the story of the future legend began like this.
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Alexei Kosygin set the task for the teams of VAZ, AZLK and Izhmash to create an off-road passenger car.
Only four years passed from the ministerial assignment to the release of the first pre-production samples.
This is a record time even by today's standards!
The first serial model of the VAZ-2121 left the assembly line of the Volga Automobile Plant on April 5, 1977.
Moreover, Soviet motorists received a revolutionary car by world standards: with a load-bearing body, permanent all-wheel drive and a completely light design.
No manufacturer in the world has ever done anything like this before.
By the way, the proprietary transmission scheme did not come from a good life.
The distribution of torque between the two axles made it possible to reduce the load on the axle gearboxes, which, for the sake of economy, had to be taken from ordinary Zhiguli.
At the Moscow Motor Show in 1998, the second generation of the Niva was presented to the public.
True, the novelty went into the series under the name Chevrolet Niva, and the Russian-American joint venture GM-AvtoVAZ took up the production of an SUV.
The history of this partnership is absolutely transparent.
In Tolyatti, there was not enough money to launch the car, and the bosses of General Motors decided that small investments by the standards of the concern would pay off handsomely.
And they turned out to be right.
However, in 2019, AvtoVAZ bought out the share of the Americans and returned the rights to the Niva trademark.
Prior to this, the first generation of the SUV had to be sold under the Lada 4 × 4 brand.
Now two Nivs are produced: the classic one is called Legend, and the more recent one is Travel.
Moreover, Travel finally received a generous gift from GM - a big restyling, which was prepared shortly before the concern left the joint venture.
More recently, the future of the Niva seemed absolutely transparent.
Both current cars continue to be produced until 2026, after which a fundamentally new generation on the Duster platform takes over.
But now the fate of Niva-3 is hanging in the balance... Recall that the Renault group, as the main shareholder of the auto giant, is now considering what to do with its Russian asset.
And in this situation, it may not be up to the use of European architectures.
The entire strategy of the French to transfer AvtoVAZ to the platforms of the alliance and the technical unification of Lada and Dacia turned out to be questionable.
It's a pity.
After all, VAZ designers have created something curious!
They didn’t just take the Romanian crossover, but supplemented it with a reinforced clutch, downshift and other interesting solutions.