Bulky and rugged, the IMS 57 was the first step taken in a long series of 4X4 vehicle developments by Romanian manufacturer Aro. Two years after the proudly-useful automobile was released, its offspring would come out. The newly-launched M59 was essentially a slightly improved IMS 57. And it took another few years of research and planning before the Campulung Muscel ARO staff started working on a new vehicle, that eventually took three years to complete (being finally released in 1964), namely the M 461.
This particular model was a big wheeled ARO and marked a great accomplishment for the Romanian automotive industry, being the first automobile shipped abroad. In fact, 502 units were exported in 1965, with China being the first foreign country to see the arrival of a Romanian built ARO vehicle. Like any other fairy-tale sounding success, ARO celebrated by taking a 7-year break from manufacturing, a period of time during which no newer models were developed.
1972 put an end to ARO's time off from the drawing board and processing plants, as a range comprised of five models was released. The ARO 24, as it was called, kept its freshness until the 80's when the spanking-new ARO 10 series was introduced.
It would take another 4 years for the ARO engineers to develop their first Diesel engine, the L 27. Having registered a mildly flattering success, the engine was quickly followed by an improved gasoline one in 1989, months before the Romanian communist era came to an end.
Needless to say, the country experienced some confused times in the early 90s, something that the international media paid a lot of attention to at the time. Meanwhile, ARO, who was struggling between ownership conflicts and quick-dwindling funds issues, released a new ARO 10 model, also known as the Spartana, in 1997.
During the course of the same year, engineers began seeking for inspiration in Oriental culture and after a few plates of sushi and countless bowls of sake, came up with the military Dragon range.
The dawn of the new millennium brought a different market approach for ARO, as all vehicles were designed with one thought in mind: utility. Despite the good intentions and good strategic planning, ARO started experiencing severe handling of funds and lack of major investments. And that only led to an inevitable ending, as ARO became bankrupt in the following years.
Although it's not a well known brand, some 380 000 Aro vehicles were produced over a 45-year life span, two thirds of them having been shipped to 110 countries, including Spain and Portugal. The one thing that most of you might not be so familiar with is that ARO - and not Dacia - was the manufacturer that built the fastest Romanian car of its time, sporting a Ford Cosworth V6 180 hp engine, that could propel the rather large vehicle close to 120 mph.