Lada vehicles are built to be tough, even though they might not look like it. Both the venerable Niva off-roader and the Fiat 124-based Lada 2101 (and later variants) were conceived in the 1970s and went on to be built well after the 2010s with little to no upgrades or modifications throughout the years.

In fact, the Niva is still being built today and currently holds the record for the longest-running off-roader still being manufactured in its original form.

What I’m trying to say is that Ladas can survive a lot of mistreatment and can be repaired with a hammer and some string in most cases. It might not be a plush ride, but it will get you to your destination, especially if you need to travel in the windy tundra or through the freezing roads of Siberia.

And this brings me to the latest experiment of the internet-famous Garage 54 YouTube channel, which made a name for itself by modifying and torturing old Ladas in every way imaginable.

Previous episodes tried to find out if a rear differential filled with water could work after sitting in freezing temperatures overnight, and what goes on inside a transparent distributor cap.

This time around, the goal was to modify the ancient petrol-burning engine and make it air-cooled, in a project inspired by the famous waterless engines made by Volkswagen and Porsche. But while the Germans presumably used a lot of thinking power before even laying a single tool on the workbench, the guys from Garage 54 used a somewhat rudimentary method.

First, all of the hoses were taken out, together with the water pump and radiator. Then, a hole was cut into the side of the engine block, where the Russians installed what can only be described as an asthmatic, underpowered fan to cool the guts of the engine.

The next step was to drill some holes in the header next to the spark plugs so that heat could escape and help cool everything down, and there was an oil temperature sensor installed, while the stock water temperature sensor was left in place.

It all sounds good in theory, but as you’ll find out, it didn’t take long before the stock temperature needle was trying to escape from the dashboard so that it can go and live in a cooler place.