From Dacia 1300 to Dacia Logan/Duster. The History of a Controversial Brand
The history of the Dacia brand couldn’t have begun in any way other than with a statement from world-famous communist dictator and spiritual father Nicolae Ceausescu who, in one summer day in 1960, decided that his people of “idiots” needed a car. Most likely in order to get to their jobs quicker, to stop purchasing “capitalist” cars, to prove that it was possible or maybe just because he was bored out of his mind.
No sooner said than done. Like in the fairy tales, once one of his trustworthy underlings was tasked with initiating the project, everything was set in motion and progressed quickly. If there was one good thing in communism, it was the way in which any idea the supreme commander came up with was promptly turned to reality with total disregard to problems or hardship. Failure was for weak people, not for the brave defenders of indigenous communism.
“Ceausescu designated me to mediate the acquirement of a cheap license for the manufacture of a small size car from an important auto maker from the West, after which we were supposed to steal the rest and start building the first Romanian car”, says Mihai Pacepa, who was, among other things, the head of Romania’s industrial espionage programs.
It was obvious that communists could never team up with a private company from a Western country, so the solution was found in the nearby “friendly people of France”. An old Renault 8 model, which was about to be discontinued, became the foundation for the new Romanian brand.
“It’s good enough for idiots, said Ceausescu to justify his choice and proceeded to name the car “Dacia”, to celebrate the 2,000 year history of Romania”, recounted Mihai Pacepa decades later in an interview for the Wall Street Journal.
Once the first model was completed, approval from Ceausescu was required for going to full production. “Too luxurious for idiots”, he vociferated upon seeing the prototype. The side mirror, radio, heated seats and probably many other remnants of the obscene capitalism the French were living in were promptly axed. The Renault 8 was not a luxurious car anyway, but the Dacia, the new Dacia, was going to be a truly minimalist vehicle.
The slashing of “luxury” features piece of work was perfected by party activists and other important names from inside the project.
Construction on the new automobile factory at Colibasi (now Mioveni) started in 1966 and was completed, as previously mentioned, in record-setting time: a year and a half!
On August 20th 1968 the first Dacia car was already in production. It was called the Dacia 1100 and was based on the Renault 8 model. A minute, spartan car with rear wheel drive and rear mounted engine.
All parts were made in France and only the assembly was being done in Romania. The first car was, of course, given as a gift to the chief "idiot" (president), Nicolae Ceausescu.
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comments written so far
Reading between lines (all political cheap shots and author's clever writing removed), I understand that a smart management, local talent and a cheap car can really upset the auto market balance of Western Europe as well as of the ememerging auto markets. Renault dealerhsips are actively competing against Dacia, that is against their own company. Oh, the wonderful world of multi nationals sometimes works to the advantage of the guy who wnats to reach point B from point A with minimum cost and maximum performance. I think there is still hope for us, normal people.
Have a good day!