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.

23 June 2016

Pe bulevard in 1965 / On the boulevard in 1965

Recent, pagina Facebook "Bucurestiul in imagini" a publicat niste fotografii exceptional de interesante aratand file din istoria capitalei. Aceasta poza arata bulevardul Magheru in vara anului 1965. E minunat de detaliata, si surprinde cateva masini destul de interesante...

Mentionam: taxi Volga; Moskvich 402 si 403, si ce pare a fi sau un break sau o dubita, variante de care nu auzisem in Romania; un Nash antebelic; Volvo Amazon; Mercedes Heckflosse, cu numere nemtesti; o Lancia Flavia din Italia; dubite TV-4 si 41; Pobeda pick-up; si primele Fiaturi 850, proaspat importate ca un semn a dezrusificarii. Iar bulevardul arata frumos, curat, ingrijit, civilizat, nu ca astazi...

Recently, the Facebook page "Bucharest in images" has published some wonderful photos of Bucharest in the old days. This shows the central Magheru boulevard on a summer's day in 1965. It's very detailed, and shows some quite interesting vehicles...

Among which: a Volga taxi; Moskvich 402 and 403, and what seems to be a van or an estate, versions I never thought existed in Romania; a pre-war Nash; Volvo Amazon; a West German-registered Fintail Mercedes; an Italian Lancia Flavia; TV-4 and 41, Romanian-built vans; a Pobeda pick-up; and the first Fiat 850s, recently imported officially in a symbol of de-Russification. And the boulevard itself, too looked neat and well-looked after, in sad contrast to today...

2 June 2016

BMW antebelic, recarosat / A rebodied pre-war BMW

In Romania anilor 50 si 60, multe masini antebelice au primit caroserii noi. Pentru mai multe motive. Orice masina era un lux: masini vechi, ruginite sau accidentate trebuiau mentinute in stare de functiune, originalitatea contand mai putin. O recarosare era, deci, practica. Dar, fara discutie, romanii nu isi pierdusera dragostea fata de automobil. Chiar in cei mai grei ani a republicii populare, erau oameni care suspinau dupa masini "tari", sportive, moderne, si elegante. Si erau multi care incercau sa isi recreeze asa ceva, cu rezursele pe care le aveau la indemana.

Aceasta poza (sursa: colegiimei.ro) arata un exemplar destul de reusit. Proprietarul - de fapt, maestrul - se numea Ioan Butnaru si era profesor in atelierul auto de la colegiul national I L Caragiale sin Bucuresti. Masina e un BMW - pare a fi, dupa parbriz, un 327. Partea din fata e de Pobeda. Sunt sigur ca pe strazile capitalei era o prezenta atragatoare. Din pacate, nu se stie nimic de ea. Foarte putine "corcituri" au supravietuit astazi, fiind total nepretuite de colectionari, desi au fost un fenomen destul de raspandit in intreaga zona comunista. Mie mi se par o atestare interesanta a supravieturii in vremuri neplacute.

In 1950s and 60s Romania, many pre-war cars received new bodies. This was for various reasons. Any car was a luxury, one which had to be kept going, even if it were rusted or wrecked. A rebody was often the best solution. But without a doubt, Romanians never lost their love of the automobile, and even during the dark days of the Popular Republic, many hankered after "cool" cars - sporty, modern and elegant. And many tried to recreate them, with the limited resources they had to hand/

This photo (source: colegiimei.ro) shows a relatively successful attempt. The owner - and builder - was called Ioan Butnaru and was a teacher in the automotive workshop of the I L Caragiale high school in Bucharest. The car is a BMW - judging by the windscreen, a 327. The front section is that of a Pobeda. I am sure that on the streets of Bucharest it was an attractive presence. Unfortunately, I know nothing more of what became of it. Very few such "hybrids" have survived; collectors have practically zero interest in them, although they are part of a phenomenon which was relatively widespread beyond the Iron Curtain. I like them, as evidence of survival in distant and unpleasant days.

1 June 2016

Masinile si sociologia in 1970 / Cars and sociology in 1970

In 1970, sociologii socalisti s-au intrebat: Cine conduce ce fel de masina? Si-au facut un recensamant... Au impartit populatia in patru cadre: muncitori, cadre cu studii medii, cadre cu studii superioare, si "altele" - tarani si pensionari. Si au studiat datele proprietarilor: nu greu de facut cand statul detinea foarte multa informatie. Si au publicat rezultatele...

Nu trebuie sa fim prea surprinsi. Marea majoritatea proprietarior de autoturism sunt cei cu studii superioare: adica cei care isi permiteau asa ceva. Trabantul e printre cele mai "proletare" masini; Renault-ul e pentru intelectuali. Mai interesant e faptul ca 1 din 12 masini erau sau la pensionari, sau la tarani. Muncitorii o duceau destul de bine. De multe ori, leafa unui muncitor fara studii depasea o leafa medie de la oras. In plus, printre "muncitori" se gaseau si sportivi, si actori, si mecanici, si chelneri la restaurantele celebre... adica, functii care castigau bine spre foarte bine. Muncitorii aveau si un parc auto mai divers. Printre masinile lor erau, desigur, modele antebelice care abia, abia se tineau pe roti; dar era si Cadillac-ul model 1967 cumparat de un miner lugojean in 1969, cu 120,000 mii de lei, de la ambasada americana... Ca fapt divers, in 1970 erau deja peste 60,000 autoturisme inscrise in Bucuresti. Desi in judetul Tulcea, nici macar o mie...

In 1970, Socialist sociologists decide to find out who owned what sort of car in Romania. So they carried out a survey. They divided the population into four categories: workers, people educated up to high school, people educated up to degree level, and unsalaried "others" (pensioners and peasants: in Romanian, as in French, the word is not derogatory). They studied the credentials of vehicle owners: not a difficult task when the State has a lot of information. And they published the results...

They are not too surprising. The large majority of car owners were degree-educated: their jobs allowed them to afford such luxuries. The Trabant is one of the more "proletarian" cars; Renaults, by contrast, were for the intellectuals. More interestingly, one in 12 cars was owned by people without salaries. The workers did well: indeed, the wage of a manual worker was often higher than an average wage in a town. Moreover, the "worker" category included sportspeople, actors, mechanics, waiters at smart restaurants: all well-paying occupations. They also had a more diverse selection of vehicles. Some would have been ancient pre-war models on their last legs; but the category also included the '67 Cadillac bought by a minor in Lugoj in 1969, from the US Embassy, for 120,000 lei - five times a teacher's yearly starting salary. In 1970, there were already over 60,000 cars in Bucharest, although more remote counties, such as Tulcea, barely had a thousand.

18 May 2016

Doua Rolls-Royce-uri regale / Two royal Rolls Royces

Doua masini din parcul auto lui Carol II...

Prima e un Phantom 3 Sedanca de Ville din 1936, carosat de Gurney Nutting in Anglia, purtand numarul de sasiu 3AX50, cumparat de nou.

A doua e ceva si mai special: un Phantom 3 Touring Limousine carosat de Park Ward pentru Jack Barclay, celebrul sofer de curse si cel mai renumit dealer Rolls-Royce, pentru uz personal. Sasiu: 3CP34. Culori: argintiu peste albastru. Printre dotari: aparat foto Leica, o cantina completa cu loc pentru sticle si pahare, mese de scris, umbrele, ochelari de vanatoare, si compartimente pentru pusti si cluburi de golf... Ulterior, masina a fost vanduta Casei Regale.

Povestea, din pacate, se termina aici. Tot ce stim este ca in 1948 s-au gasit 4 masini Rolls-Royce in fostele proprietati regale, din care 3, la Snagov, defecte. (In 1937, ducele de Kent ii daduse un Rolls, cadou, printului Mihai.) Se repartizeaza. In acelasi an, erau cel putin 5 Rolls-uri in garajele statului: cele 4 masini regale, si inca un exemplar, purtand numarul 4063-B. In 1952 vedem un Rolls-Royce in inventarul armatei. In 1956, aflam despre un Rolls-Royce (acelasi?) la o scoala de soferi militara. Restul ... e tacere. Aproape sigur s-au casat, precum multe alte minunatii existente in tara dupa razboi. In cel mai bun caz, s-au exportat la rusi. Trist!

Two cars from the collection of Carol II...

The first is a Phantom 3 Sedanca de Ville from 1936, bodied by Gurney Nutting, with chassis number 3AX50, delivered new to Romania.

The second is even more special - it's a Phantom 3 Touring Limousine bodied by Park Ward for Jack Barlcay, the famous racing driver and Rolls-Royce dealer par excellence, for his personal use. The chassis number was 3CP34 and the colour was silver over dark blue. Amongst the bespoke fittings: a Leica camera, a complete canteen replete with glasses and a space for bottles, writing tables, umbrellas, field glasses, and compartments for shotguns and gold clubs. King Carol was the second owner.

And the story ends there. All that is known is that in 1948, four Rolls-Royces were found on the properties of the deposed royal family; 3 were non-functional. (One of them may well have been the car given to Prince Michael in 1937 by the Duke of Kent.) They were handed over to the State. In that year, the State garages boasted at least five Rolls-Royces; the four royal cars, plus another example registered 4063-B. In 1952 a Rolls-Royce appears on the Army inventory. In 1956, documents refer to a Rolls-Royce (the same?) in use at a military driving school. Then ... silence. Almost certainly, they were scrapped, like many other wonderful cars left behind after the war. In the best case they might have been sent over to the Soviets. A shame!

12 May 2016

Prin Ardeal in anii 70 / Through Transylvania in the 1970s

Dintr-o arhiva elvetiana, opt poze din Ardeal surprise la inceputul anilor 70 - probabil in jurul anului 1973. Curatenie, civilizatie, prosperitate.

Masinile sunt in mare proportie occidentale - multe ale turistilor, altele trimise de rude de peste hotare. Ford Taunus si VW broscuta ies in evidenta, pe langa Opel Rekord si VW Variant. Observam si o Simca 1300 (masina destul de des intalnita in anii 70), ce pare a fi o Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300, un DKW F102, si un Vauxhall Viva. Poza nr 7 e remarcabila: in afara de camionul SR, nimic nu provine din cortina de fier. Pana si autoremorca e un Fiat, de un tip folosit in acea epoca si in Cluj (poza 9).

From a Swiss archive, eight photos form Transylvania at the beginning of the 1970s - probably around 1973. Cleanliness, civilisation, prosperity.

Many of the cars are Western; some would have belonged to tourists while others would have been sent by relatives from overseas. The Ford Taunus and VW Beetle are common sights, alongside the Opel Rekord and VW Variant. There's also a Simca 1300 (quite frequent in 70s Romania), what looks like an Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300, a DKW F102, and a Vauxhall Viva. Photo number 7 is remarkable: except for the SR truck, everything else is Western. Even the recovery truck is a Fiat, of a type also used in Cluj at the time (photo 9).






Tg Mures

La tara

22 April 2016

Raliul Feleac in 1972 / The Feleac Rally in 1972

Din Arhiva Minerva din Cluh, un set de poze absolut exceptionale aratand raliul Feleac in 1972.

Remarcam faptul ca masinile erau cat se poate de diverse: Renault 8 Gordini, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint si Giulietta Sprint, Steyr-Fiat 650, BMW 3.0, NSU TT, Dacia 1100S, Renault 12 Gordini ... Practic, cele mai celebrate masini din anii 70, venind atat din Romania cat din Germania federala si Austria (pilotul Martin Kopplinger, spre exemplu, fiind inca in viata in Austria si astazi participand pe BMW-uri Dixi antebelice). In trafic, remarcam si un Fiat 130. Trist de facut comparatia cu 10 ani mai tarziu...

From the Minerva archive in Cluj, a set of absolutely exceptional photos showing the Feleac rally in 1972.

The cars used were truly diverse. Renault 8 Gordini, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint si Giulietta Sprint, Steyr-Fiat 650, BMW 3.0, NSU TT, Dacia 1100S, Renault 12 Gordini ... basically the most celebrated vehicles of the era, coming from Romania but also from West Germany and Austria (Martin Kopplinger, for example, still being alive in Austria and racing pre-war BMW Dixis). There's also a Fiat 130 in traffic. It's sad to compare this scene with its equivalent just ten years later...