Lada's Niva still looks surprisingly modern, doesn't it? It may look similar to today's car-based crossovers, but this 40-year-old icon built by Russia's AvtoVAZ is a body-on-frame beast with legendary off-road ability.

Today, the model is simply known as the Lada 4x4.

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Photo by: Lada

While lots of bits like its lights, bumpers and grille have been changed, the Niva's rugged and plainspoken aesthetic remains gloriously intact.

Fortieth-anniversary models will be available in beige, gray-blue, red, terracotta and white paint, along with one special color: camouflage.

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Photo by: Lada

Black-painted, machine-faced alloy wheels do a lot to modernize today's Lada 4x4's appearance, but most examples throughout history left AvtoVAZ's various factory gates wearing simple pressed-steel wheels.

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Photo by: Lada

For its 40th anniversary, this Soviet-era superstar will be available in Edition and 40th Anniversary trims. Just 1977 examples of these special models will be built, a nice nod to the year the vehicle entered production.

Interior changes include "eco-leather" seats and steering wheel (presumably cows were not harmed in the making of this upholstery), as well as revamped instruments and 40th anniversary logos.

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Photo by: Lada

You may have never seen one Stateside, but around 2.5 million examples of the Niva/Lada 4x4 have been built, and they've been sold in over 100 countries worldwide.

In total, over 530,000 examples have been exported, including to countries like Japan and Canada, the latter of which received the model back in the 1980s.

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Photo by: Lada

Where would any self-respecting special-edition model be without a unique badge?

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Photo by: Lada

Today's Lada 4x4 assembly line doesn't look entirely dissimilar to the way the model was built 40 years ago.

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Photo by: Lada

See what I mean?

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Photo by: Lada

Click or swipe through the gallery for more excellent vintage photos of the Lada Niva/Lada 4x4.

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Photo by: Lada
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Photo by: Lada
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Photo by: Lada
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Photo by: Lada
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Photo by: Lada
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Photo by: Lada
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