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This 40-year-old Lada - once referred to as a 'skip on wheels' - is estimated to sell for £75k at one of Britain's most prestigious auctions next month

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 25/08/2018 Rob Hull For Thisismoney.co.uk
The £75k Lada: This Niva 4x4 - despite its rickety state - is set to be sold at one of the UK's most prestigious auctions of the year © Daily Mail The £75k Lada: This Niva 4x4 - despite its rickety state - is set to be sold at one of the UK's most prestigious auctions of the year

What's the difference between a Lada and a golf ball? You can drive a golf ball 200 metres.

That's just one of a number of jokes made about the Russian car brand over the years thanks to a range of models that became the butt of much ridicule from motorists who regularly referred to them as 'skips on wheels'.

But they might not be laughing when they see that a 40-year-old Lada Niva is set to sell for a staggering £75,000 at one of the most acclaimed auctions of the year.

a red white and black truck parked in front of a building: The 1979 Lada Niva was used to compete in the 1981 Paris-Dakar Rally, though it failed to finish the event © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The 1979 Lada Niva was used to compete in the 1981 Paris-Dakar Rally, though it failed to finish the event

Collectors are set to battle it out for this rickety looking off-roader next month at the RM Sotheby's London sale in Battersea.

It will be sold alongside a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT that featured in The Wrong Arm of the Law starring Peter Sellars and Rod Stewart's former 1971 Lamborghini Miura - both of which are estimated to reach seven-figure sums - at one of the UK's biggest auctions of the year.

So why is a Lada being sold there? Especially one that's in such poor condition. 

a close up of a sign: While it didn't make it to the end, one Lada Niva famously crossed the line in third place © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited While it didn't make it to the end, one Lada Niva famously crossed the line in third place

It's because this 1979 Niva is one of a few that competed in arguably the most testing race on the planet - the Paris-Dakar Rally - and is believed to be one of the most collectible in existence.

The plucky little Lada was bought by racer François Jeanson and his son. It was then specially prepared for the 1981 installment of the endurance race.

Inside, only the front seats remain and much of the interior has been stripped away to save weight © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Inside, only the front seats remain and much of the interior has been stripped away to save weight

In preparation for the arduous journey across some of the toughest terrains in the world, he fitted it with a plastic bonnet, doors and boot, larger capacity fuel tank, additional protection for the front and rear bumpers, extra lights and a beefier suspension.

Issued with number 167 - which is still visibly carries today - it was one of a dozen Nivas entered in toe race that year, which started at the Place du Tracadéro in Paris.

Of the 170 cars, 15 trucks and 106 motorcycles that entered, just 59 made it to the finish - and it was a Lada Niva that famously crossed the line in third.

a red white and black truck sitting on top of a building: The car was prepared for the 1981 endurance rally with a larger capacity fuel tank, additional protection for the front and rear bumpers, extra lights and a beefier suspension © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The car was prepared for the 1981 endurance rally with a larger capacity fuel tank, additional protection for the front and rear bumpers, extra lights and a beefier suspension

Unfortunately, it wasn't this one, as Jeansons' Lada dropped out part-way into the race.

Incredibly, the Jeanson family retained the Niva until 2009 when it was bought by its current owner, who has now decided to sell the 4x4 in its unrestored, original condition.

a close up of an engine: Mechanical failure prevented the car from finishing the race. Some 291 vehicles entered the 1981 event, though just 59 finished © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mechanical failure prevented the car from finishing the race. Some 291 vehicles entered the 1981 event, though just 59 finished

RM Sotheby's, which is famous for selling multi-million pound Ferraris and other super-desirable classics, expects it to sell for between £50,000 and £75,000 when it goes under the hammer on 5 September.

Covered in cobwebs, leaves and dirt and still bearing the stickers - and bruises - from the 1981 rally, the Niva is about as far from what you'd usually find being sold by the prestigious auction house.

a red truck parked on the side of a building: Covered in cobwebs, leaves and dirt and still bearing the stickers - and bruises - from the race, it has been preserved in original condition in an Austrian barn for the last decade © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Covered in cobwebs, leaves and dirt and still bearing the stickers - and bruises - from the race, it has been preserved in original condition in an Austrian barn for the last decade

In fact, it's the first Lada RM Sotheby's has ever auctioned. 

If a buyer is looking to renovate it back to its original glory, they're going to have to put in plenty of effort - and resources - to make that happen. 

The wheel are rusty, the tyres flat and it has been gathering dust in an Austrian garage for the best part of a decade.

a close up of an engine: RM Sotheby's usually sells hugely collectible - and expensive - Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis. This is the first time the auction house has offered a Lada to the highest bidder © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited RM Sotheby's usually sells hugely collectible - and expensive - Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis. This is the first time the auction house has offered a Lada to the highest bidder

Despite its tired condition and lack of performance, it is still expected to sell for around £75,000.

Felix Archer, car specialist at RM Sotheby's, said: 'The life led by this plucky Lada is undeniably fascinating, thinking back to the car's journey on the famous Paris-Dakar rally in 1981.

a close up of a car: It's hard to believe that this car could cost around the same as a brand new Range Rover © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited It's hard to believe that this car could cost around the same as a brand new Range Rover

'The transnational race is renowned as gruelling and tough, which speaks volumes for the character and resilience of this small 4x4 that took on one of the hardest racing events in the world, all the more challenging under older race rules.

'In the car's current state, it's almost untouched since its participation in the Paris-Dakar race.'

a close up of a red car: Before the race, the Lada had a plastic bonnet and boot lid fitted to reduce weight so it could cross the sands to Dakar © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Before the race, the Lada had a plastic bonnet and boot lid fitted to reduce weight so it could cross the sands to Dakar

RM Sotheby's auction listing added: 'If the Paris-Dakar rally was a Goliath of an event, this Lada was its David, facing seemingly impossible odds in one of motorsport's most gruelling events, where one of its brethren finished third.'

a car parked in front of a truck: The Lada Niva was the fruit of Russian car manufacturing during the Cold War and first went into production in 1977 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Lada Niva was the fruit of Russian car manufacturing during the Cold War and first went into production in 1977 a car parked in a field: Various versions followed, of which many were sold in the UK, like this Crossback variant © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Various versions followed, of which many were sold in the UK, like this Crossback variant


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