5 March 2010

Welcome

Romania has a rich automotive history full of interesting tales. Over the years, many fascinating cars found their way to Romanian shores. The first ever Jaguar to carry the leaping cat mascot. Beautiful specials from the inter-war period. The pair of famous racing Mercedes imported as war trophies in 1945. The Western cars favoured by the Communist elite. Last but not least, the supercars of today.

Yet the story of cars in Romania also gives stories of astonishing resilience; of families' pride and joy buried or locked away during the War; of determined eccentrics keeping rare interbellum models going well into the 'seventies and 'eighties, sowing the seeds of Romania's fledgeling classic car movement; of Maseratis carrying potatoes, roadsters used as chicken coops, and cats sleeping in the remains of royal Alfa Romeos; of the ever-inventive ways Romanians had of importing a prized Western model under Communism, and the love with which some of these cars were (and, sometimes, still are) kept going, against all odds.

There are sad stories too, of indifference and destruction, and of the ravages of war and political extremism. Many of the best cars Romania has had have been scrapped, exported, neglected, or modified. Cars from the 60s and early 70s - many of them loved and kept in good order by their owners - are still being sent to the crusher. Some home-grown models, notably older commercial vehicles, are extinct. Still we do not have a national museum of automobiles, and those kept in museums are often in terrible condition.

But things can and do change. And I hope that, when looking through the photos I will put up, or when reading the stories I will do my best to recount, you might be just that bit more tempted to save the rusting but still no less interesting piece of engineering, languishing in the parking lot of the block of flats opposite.

I will write in English and Romanian. (Apologies in advance for the quality of the latter. It is bad.)

Happy reading and I await your comments!

APT



Bine ati venit!

Istoria automobilismului in Romania e lunga si plina de povesti interesante. In trecut au existat multe masini interesante prin tara, precum primul Jaguar care a purtat celebra insignie Jaguar, modele interbelice de lux carosate special, o pereche de Mercedesuri de curse aduse in tara in '45 ca daune de razboi, luxoasele masini occdentale ale elitei comuniste, si, de ce nu, supercars care circula astazi prin cartierele noastre selecte.

In acelasi timp, exista multe povesti despre supravietuire: despre familii care si-au ascuns sau si-au ingropat mandria lor de la nemti sau de la rusi (masini care si astazi ies la iveala) ; despre "excentricii" anilor 70 si 80 care, cu chiu cu vai, tineau modele antebelice in stare de functionare, de multe ori facand primii pasi pentru miscarea vehiculelor de epoca in Romania ; despre Maserati pus la carat zarzavate, decapotabile pe post de cotet de gaini, sau pisici adapostindu-se in Alfa Romeo familiei regale ; despre fel de fel de metode prin care se putea importa o masina sub comunism ; si despre mandria aproape obsesiva pe care o avea fiecare proprietar de "masina mica" intr-o anumita perioada, si care se vede chiar astazi cand se mai gaseste cate-un Fiat sau o Dacie frantuzeasca tinuta intr-un garaj, bibilita si pastrata in stare originala.

Deasigur, exista si povesti mai triste. Indiferenta fata de istorie si evenimentele razboiului si schimbarilor politice au avut efectul lor. Multe din cele mai interesante masini care au existat in tara au fost casate, exportate, mutilate sau pur si simplu abandonate. Multe modele din anii 60 si 70, unele nesperabil de bine pastrate, inca isi gasesc drumul pana la portile REMATului. Avem modele autohtone, majoritatea destinate transportul marfii, care sunt pur si simple extincte - nu mai ramas vreun exemplar nici in tara, nici peste hotare. Inca, Romania nu are un muzeu specific vehiculelor, iar masinile care sunt in muzee prin tara, cu mici exceptii, sunt in stare deplorabila.

Totusi, lucrurile se pot schimba. Si sper ca, atunci cand cititi amanunte din istoria automobilismului din Romania, sau cand va uitati prin pozele care evoca un trecut frumos, va ganditi si la "rabla din fata blocului de vizavi", nu ca o uratenie care strica imaginea cartierului, ci ca o bucatica de istorie care, poate poate, merita salvata.

O sa incerca sa scriu si in limba engleza si in limba romana. Din pacate, cum cred ca ati vazut deja, calitatea romanii mele este mult inferioara... Totusi, va doresc vizionare placuta si astept comentarii!

APT

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