Ladas are Russian Fiats. The Niva was ahead of it's time(in the '80s) with independent coil spring suspension when American trucks had leafs and solid axles. They really are good offroaders in east coast forest trails.
A buddy of mine had one. He was a heavy cigarette smoker. I could always smell gas in his Niva. It turns out the top of the fuel tank is the floor of the bed... really scary. I don't care how cheap, offroad worthy and easy to repair a Niva is. I don't want to go out in a ball of flame.