The Dacia is a Romanian factory that started the activity in the 1968 (same year of the Lada and of the Polish FSO). Like Lada with Fiat, this factory, located in the city of Pitesti Arges, was born by a collaboration with a Western automotive factory, the Renault (that has a stake of over 92% in the Dacia factory). These Romanian cars are diffused in Romania and other Eastern countries (except Russia), as Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria. Many exemplars were exported also in Africa and South America.
The first model produced (three pics above) was the Dacia "1100", that is a simple copy of the Renault 8. The first produced car (and tested with care, i suppose...) was given, as gift, to the Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu; but i think that the dictator had much more luxurious cars...The Dacia 1100/Renault 8 was similar to other cars of the same period (Fiat "850", NSU "Prinz", ZAZ "966", Skoda "MB-1000", etc.): rear engine, liquid-cooled four cylinder, 46 hp, 133 km/h.
But, after few time, the Dacia 1100 was abandoned to produce a car of higher level: in the 1969, the series of Dacia "1210/1310/1410" was launched (first and second pics above; the number identifies the displacement, 1185 cc. with 48 hp, 1289 cc. with 54 hp, 1397 cc. with 63 hp). The car is the simple copy of the Renault "12", produced also in Turkey (where it was called "Toros") and in Argentina; but, during the time, it was modified with new rear and front lights (third, fourth, fifth and sixth pics above). The "Break" (station-wagon) had also the engine of the old VW "Golf", 1.6 turbodiesel, 70 hp.
The variety of the Romanian versions of this Renault project is very remarkable, with variants never produced in France! In the first pic above, the Dacia "Brasovia" coupè, prototype never produced in series (this car is similar to the Renault "17", called in Italy "177" because in my country the number 17 is a symbol of bad luck!); in the second, third and fourth pics, the Dacia "Sport", another coupè, strictly derived from the sedan version (the production was stopped in the 1989); and, in the fifth pic, the "Jumbo", similar, about the concept, to the Renault "Kangoo" or Citroen "Berlingo"...except for the height, very excessive!
Other versions: in the first, second and third pics above, an hatchback version, called "Liberta" (after the revolution of 1989), produced in a quite limited number of exemplars; in the fourth pic, a pick-up double-cab 4x4, available also with the only rear wheel drive transmission; in the fifth pic, the "Star", a prototype of restyled sedan (with new rear part and windows), never entered in production. Therefore, the Romanians have "squeezed" at the maximum level the original French project, obtaining a lot of versions! And that's not all...
...because the Romanians realized also competition versions! Above, the incredible Dacia "1410 Sport Turbo" (first and second pics), the Dacia "Liberta" rally (third pic), the "Sport" group C (fourth pic), the "1310" at the Acropolis Rally 1985 (fifth pic)! Obviously, the money was not the same of the Western cars...and the effort in the competitions, anyway, was admirable, although the inferiority and the outdated project of the cars.
The Dacia also realized a car of high category: the Dacia "2000" (first pic above), that was simply a Renault "20" assembled under license. This car was reserved to the men of the Romanian "nomenklatura"...but, i repeat, Nicolae Ceausescu had Mercedes and other more luxurious cars! In the 1980, the Romanian governement decides the realization of a cheap "micro-car" at low cost. The result is the car in the second, third and fourth pics above (the child has a raincoat of the same color of the car...): the Dacia "500 Lastun", produced by another plant, placed in the city of Timisoara . This car was produced until 1989 with a poor success, because the quality was low, and the car not good for the needs of a medium family. The engine was a two-cylinder, air-cooled, with 23 hp; the consumption was of 3 liters/100 km, the coachwork is made of fiberglass, the max speed 106 km/h. Not a beautiful car...but it's not different from the modern Aixam and Ligier that i see sometime in my city. On the same engine, also a bigger coachwork was realized (fifth pic), in order to realize a "real" compact car, more useful for a family: but it never was produced.
The last restyling of the Dacia/Renault 12 is recent: above, some images of the current sedan, station wagon and pick-up versions, totally similar to the previous versions, except for the new new front part and the availability of a "new" 1557 cc. unit (72 hp), derived from the smaller engines. Maybe even some Renault manager doesn't remember this car, that instead is still produced and realized in Romania!
In the 1997, the Dacia "Nova" (first pic, above) was launched. Although the name, the "Nova" it's not a real new car...because it was obtained from the floorpan of the Peugeot "309", with the old Renault engines: a real patchwork! The "Nova" is produced with the 1.4 and 1.6 units of the old model derived from the Renault 12. Since 1998, there is also the Bosch electronic injection. In the second and third pics, the "SuperNova", that is the best equipped version, with the engine of the Renault "Clio" 1.4, imported from the France. The look is not different from cars of 15 years ago....anyway, the Romanians realized also a "kit-car" rally version (fourth pic)!
In the two pics above, two images of a minivan prototype derived from the "Nova". Fortunately, this freezer on four wheels, with the lights at the first floor, and the windows at the last floor, wasn't put in production! See also the terrible "DACIA" logo on the rear door...there is not need to put a so big logo to specify that it's a Dacia...I don't wanna be cruel, but this car (although made with very few resources; also windows and lights are the sames of the "Nova", not good to be used on a minivan) is very terrible, one of the worst car that i have seen during my life...and i'm kind!
In the four pics above, instead, a less ugly car: the Dacia "Solenza", launched in February 2003, essentially a restyled version of the "SuperNova", with new front and rear part, and with redesigned interiors. The engine is the same of the "SuperNova", therefore a 1.4 with 75 hp. The car was improved in the construction (thank to the Renault's help), and it has an improved equipment, with air conditioner, power windows, central lock, power steering, and also ABS. Surely is not modern like a Western car, but it is surely less outdated than the previous models!
Above, three drawings (the first and second are only preliminary sketches, the third is closer to the definitive version) of a more interesting car. This is the "X-90", a small car that will be produced by Dacia on Renault project. The date of the start of production is the 2004, and the price will be very cheap, near 5000 EU. It will be equipped with several modern engines: a 900-1000 cc three cylinders, a 1200 four-cylinders and a 1500 diesel. Also other versions will be realized: pick-up, sedan and station-wagon.
Above, another image of the "SuperNova" currently produced. I hope that the new "X-90" will have also a good assembling level; if not, the better thing to make is to give a better salary to the Romanian workers, who have ridicolous wages. The technical progress is not enough, to improve the things.
Some pic taken from Romanian Cars Site