There's no question that camper vans and RV vacations are hot items right now, especially as the northern hemisphere moves through the summer months. Some of these machines can be rather expensive, but we have discovered in Russia one of the cheapest new campers we've seen. It is called Lada Niva Autodom and has been developed by the Moscow company Lux Form.
This company, specializing in special projects on Russian cars, has turned Russia's mythical off-road vehicle into a motorhome with enough creature comforts to spend several days away from civilization.
Gallery: Lada 4x4 motorhome
The vehicle measures 4.76 meters ( 15.4 feet) long, with a width of 1.74 meters (5.6 feet) and a total height of 2.77 (9.1 feet) in height. It rides on a 110-inch wheelbase, making it a very compact, all-inclusive motorhome that truly does offer everything. The interior is configured with a seating area for two, a folding table, a full kitchen that includes both a stove and refrigerator, and yes, there's also a full bathroom with a toilet and shower. When it's time for rest, the upper berth sleeps two while the seating area converts for additional sleeping space.
The Niva RV holds 70 liters (15.4 gallons) of fresh water and 40 liters (8.8 gallons) of gray water. The stove is gas-operated; it carries a 5-kilogram (11-pound) tank, and it also has an available heating system for four-season use. When external power isn't available, a 12V 70Ah gel battery is on board.
Under the skin, everything is standard-issue Lada Niva. That means a 1.7-liter gasoline engine developing 84 horsepower (63 kilowatts) connected to a five-speed manual transmission. It's not what you'd call fast, or even briskly slow for that matter. But its four-wheel-drive system with reduction gear means it can crawl to places off the beaten path that a two-wheel-drive RV couldn't reach.
As for price, the plucky little RV starts at 1.6 million Russian rubles, which currently translates to approximately €18,250 for European campers or around $21,400 in the United States. Of course, Ladas aren't sold in the US, and strict emissions regulations in Europe mean you can't get it there either. That means this little Russian gem will remain forbidden fruit for many RV enthusiasts around the globe, though we suspect some do-it-yourself camping enthusiasts might take a few notes on this clever compact design.