On 23 August, 1969 a parade was held in Bucharest, marking the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Romania. It was here under the auspices of Nicolae Ceauşescu, the Communist leader of Romania that the first batch of Dacia 1300 automobiles was presented to the public.
Within COMECON countries, Romania was one of those countries where the automobile industry had little tradition (GM had an assembly plant in Bucharest in the 1930s), but there was a desire for a people’s car.
Nicolae Ceauşescu instructed the Romanian Communist Party to come up with a Romanian people’s car in 1965. In 1966 talks got under way with Peugeot, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Renault. During an official visit by Charles De Gaulle, the French President this topic has also been discussed. So it is no wonder that Renault, which was then owned by the French government became the chosen partner.d-1960s, Romanians agreed with French Renault.
While the Renault 12 been chosen as the ideal model, it was still under development. So the new factory, which was erected near Mioveni launched production of the Renault 8 in August, 1968. According to local lore, there were also plans to assemble the Renault 16, but Ceauşescu said that Romanians “were too dumb” to properly maintain this car. Between 1968 and 1971 there were around 30, 000 units assembled of the Dacia 1100 (Renault 8)
While production of the Renault 8 aka Dacia 1100 got underway, French engineers also helped their Romanian collegaues to prepare for the production of the new Dacia 1300, the local version of the Renault 12.
In fact, the Dacia 1300 was shown just a little bit before the official unveiling of the Renault 12. For the 23 August, 1969 the first batch was completed from French parts – including Renault engines and gearboxes, Sofabex fuel pump, Solex carburetor, Jaeger instruments etc.
The first 293 units of pre-production models were assembled between August and December, 1969. These cars have been scooped up by leaders of the Communist Party. The Romanian Retromobil Club was kind enough to provide an overview for us, where they listed 20 distinctive features.
In January, 1970 sales officially commenced. The cars were still featuring mostly French parts. In 1971 the first localised components appeared. In 1972 mass production was launched with an increasing number of Romanian parts. With that quality started to drop dramatically – a Renault engine could last 300,000 km, while a Dacia-produced engine had a maximum lifespan of just 100,000 km.
By 1977 the Dacia 1300 was produced exclusively from Romanian parts, save for the ignition lock which was only localised five years later.
The Dacia 1300 family was slowly extended: in 1973 the Dacia 1300 Break estate was shown. A decade later a pickup, called the Dacia 1304 joined the lineup.
In France the Renault 12 remained in production in 1980. However the Dacia 1300, which was updated and renamed to 1310 in 1982, remained in production until 2004.
In the 1990s Dacia suffered. In 1995 a new model, called the Dacia Nova was shown, but it fared quite badly. Renault took over the factory in 1999.
Under the baton of the new owner production of the Dacia 1300 family was finished after 2,5 million units in 2006.
With the unveiling of the Dacia Logan in 2004 a new era began.