Ah, Dacia, the brand I grew up with. In fact, an entire country relied almost solely on it to move around. I don’t know if you can imagine a state where everybody drove one single model, a badly made rebadged version of the Renault 12. For decades, the vast majority of Romania’s passenger car landscape was comprised of various body types and facelifts for the Dacia 1300. Here in America, we have the import vs domestic war, but back then in Romania, there was no battle: any foreign car, as we used to call them, was better than the Dacia.
Not only was its 1960s design as outdated as my granddad's pajamas, but even a part the factory tools that put together the car were broken from time to time. Of course, this didn’t stop the new cars from rolling off the assembly line.
A simple sneeze would cause the body to rust, but the engine soon came to rescue the car - it would spit so much oil that you could very well use this to “treat” the affected body panels.
But I don’t want to be mean, there were also a few fine examples from this point of view and achieving one was simple. Each car was painted by two people, who would meet in the middle. All you needed to do is make sure the boys had a serious drink during the shift, so that their areas would never match.
The car wouldn’t pass the quality check and they’d paint it all over again. They’d usually do this without stripping it to the bare metal, as this would’ve tipped their bosses about the problem. Thus, you could end up with a double-painted Dacia. It was a rare case but it’s a true story, I swear.
At the time, if you wanted to be a man, you had to know how to fix yours straight in the parking lot. As you can imagine, the repairs soon transformed into fixes and duct tape was the main ingredient.
As the years went by, the vehicle gained plastic aprons and climate control systems that at least made the air inside the car smell like heat. The last facelift received by the car was nicknamed after the amusing, ever-present smile of the country’s president at the time. Really, they called it “Iliescu’s smile”.
Don’t imagine that the vehicle ever received any relevant features. Yes, it got monopoint fuel injection in its latest years, but now word of ABS. Hell, you were lucky if the brakes never failed while you were driving.
However, all Dacias excelled at one thing - the paint. BMW may be my favorite company, but it’s only recently launched the factory matte paint option, whereas our cars featured a matte look after just a few years of use.
The aforementioned facelift was also a model that entered the tuning market, being gifted with Chinese and Turkish aftermarket parts that seemed to be designed by the ladies of the night - they were ultra-flashy, cheap and didn’t fit properly.
I could share stories about Dacia with you all day long, but I have a final one that says it all and also includes the Logan. They say that the name of the brand is actually an abbreviation: D.A.C.I.A. In Romanian, this could stand for “Daca Ai Cap Ia-ti Alta”, which can be translated into “If you’ve got brains buy something else.”
And if you have any doubts about the accuracy of the facts I've descibed above, you can check out this video
of a man painting a Dacia wheel arch with his mouth.