When all-wheel drive means more than just four driving wheels.
6x6 vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the last few years. We’ve seen everything from factory creations like the Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6, to crazy tuning projects like the Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6, and smart custom builds like the Suzuki Jimny-based 6x6 mini pickup. But we haven’t seen even a single 6x6 project from Russia which is quite surprising given the number of crazy cars that come from the Russian Federation. Thankfully, the folks over from Garage 54 are finally filling this gap with a Lada Niva 6x6.
Gallery: Lada Niva 6x6
Inspired by similar creations by other Russian folks, the team took a standard long wheelbase 4x4 Niva with four doors as a donor car. The mechanics built an interesting and simple four-wheel rear axle that comprises of leaf springs, a central axle laying on two massive bearings, and additional lower links. To make sure the whole construction doesn’t suffer from a lateral twist, some additional links from Lada are mounted to the frame rails. And… that’s it basically, as far as the suspension is concerned.
The main challenge, as you might have already figured out, is torque transfer. As it turns out, Lada never made an axle design with two rear differentials so there’s no factory solution available. The mechanics will have to work on a unique layout with a connecting shaft between the two rear differentials. How’s that going to work? We’ll find out in the next episode of the series.
Meanwhile, the first road (and off-road) tests show the suspension at the back is coping well with off-road terrain and there’s enough space for high suspension travel. That smart rear axle looks to be brilliant.