29 August 2017

Un Standard la Bucuresti in 1948

Ceva foarte, foarte rar dintr-o perioada aproape uitata. In 1948 inca era ceva viata in Bucuresti, capitala se reconstruia, se importau masini din occident, veneau straini, opera, teatrul si restaurantele erau, poate nu stralucite dar cel putin pline. UIn mai putin de un an, totul urma sa se schimbe,...

Anglocar a fost un dealer de masini englezesti care, printre altele, a adus Jaguarele casei regale in tara. Ernest Dawyl, proprietarul firmei, a avut o viata fascinanta. In 1949 a fost acuzat de spionaj, arestat, proprietatile confiscate; iar dupa o perioada lunga de puscarie, a fost eliberat in 1958, cand a plecat catre Londra. Deci nu numai o imagine rara, ci una trista...

De remarcat placutele diplomatice specifice perioadei. 
Something very rare from an almost forgotten period. In 1948, Bucharest was rebuilding itself and trying to restore something of the fun of pre-war life; cars were being imported; foreigners were visiting; the theatre, opera and restaurants were full if not sparkling. All of which would change in less than a year...

Anglocar was a dealer of English cars which, among others, bought the royal family's Jaguars to Romania. Ernest Dawyl, the owner, had a fascinating life. In 1949 he was arrested on counts of espionage, his property confiscated, and imprisoned. Released in 1958, he returned to the UK. So not only a rare photo, but rather a sad one...

Note the diplomatic plates specific to the period.

24 March 2017

Plinata Comturist, 1983 / Comturist dollar shop brochure, 1983

Ceva inedit: o plianta Comturist din 1983, aratand ce se putea cumpara pe valuta. Clintela ar fi fost extrem de limitata insa era mai mult vorba de straini locuind in Romania (unii chiar cumparau Dacii in anii 80). Contine imagini rarisime cu prototipul Dacia Sport, prototipul Dacia 1420, si prima generatie de ARO 24.

Referitor la preturi,  aflam ca "la 19 mai 1989, Nicolae Ceauşescu a aprobat o ajustare a preţurilor de vânzare a autoturismelor româneşti în străinătate. Liderul P.C.R. a primit, în acest sens, de la Ministerul Industriei Constructoare de Maşini, un raport cu următoarele propuneri de preţ: „Dacia 1310” şi „Dacia 1410” – 2.600 de dolari; „Dacia 1320” – 3.150 de dolari; „Dacia” break – 2.800 de dolari; „Dacia” camionetă – 2.875 de dolari; „Oltcit” – 2.700 de dolari; „Aro 10” – 3.825 de dolari; „Aro 24” Diesel – 5.000 de dolari; „Aro 24” cu motor tip Otto – 4.300 de dolari; colecţie CKD „Dacia” – 2.450 de dolari; colecţie CKD „Aro” – 2.900 de dolari". Desi Oltcitul la 4,000 dolari in 1983 pare foarte ridicat, valoarea dolarului se schimbase foarte mult intre timp.

Something not seen before: a Comtourist dollar shop brochure from 1983, showing what Western currency could buy you. The clientele would have been very limited, but was largely foreign nationals living in Romania (some of whom did indeed buy Dacias in the 1980s). It contains very rare images of the prototype Dacia Sport, the prototype Dacia 1420, and the first series of ARO 24.

3 January 2017

TIB 1981

O imagine fantastica: TIB 1981.

Vedem: Oltcituri din prima serie, plus o intreaga gama de Dacii, inclusiv cateva modele inedite: Dacia 1610 Break cu 80 CP, Dacia 1410 in doua variante, una pentru taximetrie, cealalta cu cinci trepte, si - pentru prima oara - Dacia 1304 pick-up. Ultima dezvaluie misterul unei Dacii 1304 din 1981 descoperita recent in judetul Timis: da, e autentica, deci inseamna ca chiar se constriau in acel an, cu un an mai devreme decat spuneau cartile... Si asa, mai dezvaluim o bucatica de istorie...

Foto via Andrei Birsan
A fantastic image: Bucharest's International Trade Fair, 1981.

On show are some of the very first Oltcits, plus a whole line up of Dacias, including some very special ones: the Dacia 1610 estate, with 80 bhp; the Dacia 1410 in two variants, one designed for taxi use, the other with a 5-speed gearbox; and - for the first time - the brand new 1304 pick-up. That clears up the mystery of a genuine 1981 1304 discovered recently in the west of Romania: yes, they were making them in 1981, at least a year earlier than the history books say. So, through pictures, we uncover a bit more history...

Photograph via Andrei Birsan

25 September 2016

Dacia ... 1420

Felicitare emisa de uzinele Dacia in 1983. Masina din poza e un prototip pentru o usoara modernizare a Daciei 1310. Au fost facute cateva si expuse la TIB '83, drept Dacia 1320 si 1420 TLE. Interesanta tentativa de a folosi culoarea caroseriei in tampoane. In rest, nu pot spune ca e cea mai reusita improspetire. Inutil de spus ca nu am vazut vreodata asa ceva in carne si oase...

New Year's card issued by the Dacia factory in 1983. The car shown is a proposed light refresh of the 1310. A handful were made and exhibited at the Bucharest International Trade Fair in 1983, as the 1320 and 1420 models. An interesting attempt at body-coloured bumpers; otherwise, it's not the most elegant of facelifts. Needless to say, I've never seen one in real life...


8 September 2016

Un Mercedes 300SEL in 1990

Odata cu caderea cortinei de fier in 1989/1990, multi straini au venit foarte repede in tara, armati cu marci sau dolari, la vanatoarea de masini vechi. Multe masini interesante si-au luat drumul catre occident in ace iani - nu numai din Romania, dar din toate tarile ex-comuniste. Unele erau adevarate raritati - mentionam, spre exemplu, Stutz AA si BMW 328, ambele masini cunoscute in Bucuresti. Aici, o masina mai moderna, un Mercedes 300 SEL. Apartinuse unui ministru de interne, ca masina personala. Poarta placute emise in 1990, probabil cele vechi fiind in forma 1-B-xxx si prea ostentative. In 1990, a fost exportat in Germania de catre un pasionat, unde a beneficiat de o restaurare usoara; probabil, inca circula. Intr-un fel, trist; 300SEL a fost construita numai in 1546 exemplare; era una din cele mai tari masini din Romania comunista, si e pacat ca a disparut din peisajul bucurestean. Totusi, nu cred ca ar fi avut un viitor prea glorios in Romania postdecembrista. Aproape sigur o vad remotorizata, poate cu motor de Aro sau de Volga, carand cartofi la tara, putrezind in fata unui bloc, sau, si mai grav, tunata in stilul anilor 90... Mai bine restaurata in Germania decat mutilata in Romania!

Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, many foreigners came East in search of interesting cars, armed with marks or dollars. Many great cars made their way West in those years - not just from Romania but from other Eastern Bloc countries. Many such cars were real rarities - Stutz AA or BMW 328, for instance, both of which left Bucharest in the early 1990s. Here, something more modern, a Mercedes 300SEL. It used to belong to a minister of the interior as personal transport. The licence plates were issued in 1990, probably to cover up older, more flash, "short" number plates. 1990 was also the year were it made its way to Germany, where it was lightly restored; probably, it's still going strong. In a way, it's a shame - the 300SEL is a rarity, with only 1546 made; it was one of the most impressive cars in Communist Romania and it would have been nice to keep it in the country. But I doubt its future would have been happy. I can already see an engine transplant, maybe from a Volga or an ARO; potato-carrying duty in the countryside; rotting in front of a tower block; or, worst, tuned in the inimitable style of the 90s... Perhaps better restored in Germany than mutilated in Romania!

18 August 2016

Inca o antebelica care circula / Another pre-war car still going

In Romania anului 2016, chiar ca nu ma asteptam sa vad o antebelica inca in circulatie, adica nu in circuitul masinilor istorice. Acest Opel Olympia din 1939 inca isi face treaba intr-o comuna in judetul Mures (Chiheru de Jos). Nu ar castiga niciun premiu la concursuri de eleganta. A suferit modificari de-a lungul timpului, unele chiar majore (desi nici pe departe atat de majore cat Jeepul din Buzau). Totusi, circula, are verificare tehnica. Imi place sa ma gandesc la proprietar, cu siguranta in varsta, circuland o data pe luna cu ea, poate pana la piata, poate chiar la iarba verde...

Foto: olx.ro

In 2016 Romania, I really wasn't expecting to see a pre-war car still in traffic - i.e. not in the historic vehicle circuit. This 1939 Opel Olympia is still making itself useful in Chiheru de Jos, a village in Mures County. It certainly won't be winning any concours prizes. There have been plenty of modifications made to keep it going over the years - some of them quite major, though none as major as those of the Jeep in Buzau. But, still, it's going strong; it has a certificate of roadworthiness. I like to think of the owner, doubtless elderly, taking it out once a month, maybe to the market, maybe even for a picnic...

Photos: olx.ro

17 August 2016

Imperial in Bucuresti / Imperial in Bucharest

Bucuresti, circa 1966, intr-o brosura ONT. Masinile sunt totalmente vestice - trei Mercedesuri, ce pare a fi un Ford Taunus, si, cel mai spectaculos, un Imperial Crown Sedan din 1957-59. Imperial era marca de lux a companiei Chrysler, un concurent direct cu Cadillac, Lincoln, Rolls-Royce si Mercedes "Adenauer". E vorba de o perioada care era apogeul dezrusificarii si deschiderii catre orient. Bucuresti era o capitala "chic", precum noile statuni de pe litoral. Viata era placuta pentru multi. Totusi, chiar in aceste conditii, presenta unui Imperial pe strazile capitalei ar fi fost remarcabila.
Bucharest, circa 1966, in a National Tourism Office brochure. The vehicles are entirely Western - three Mercedes, what looks like a Ford Taunus, and, most impressively, an Imperial Crown Sedan from 1957-59. Imperial was the top make of the Chrysler Corporation, a direct competitor to Cadillac, Lincoln, Rolls Royce, and Mercedes "Adenauer". This was an era which was perhaps the height of Communist Romania's "pivot to the West". Bucharest was a chic destination, as were the new Black Sea resorts. Life for many was rather good. Even so, the presence of an Imperial on the streets of Bucharest would have been remarkable.