This autumn car show marks the end of them for 2014. Since there won’t be any more until spring, I thought I’d pay a visit. First thing that caught my eye was a Fiat Topolino. And rightly so, given the bright orange-and-blue it sported. Although not the best possible combination in my opinion, it did perhaps underline the feeling that the car transmits: all of what you need in a car, with no cutbacks made when it comes to fun.
Right alongside the Fiat, I found this (unfortunately) not very well preserved Giulietta Sprint that also supported the Italians that day, as did a Fiat 124 Coupe, an 850 Spider, a 1200 Spider, the above mentioned Toppolino, and a 1300.
Speaking of the 124 Coupe–it was parked right next to a Soviet Fiat 124, better known as the Lada 1200. Comparing the two, one could assume that they came from the same manufacturer, but that wasn’t really obvious at first glance. The Lada was a pretty reliable car in its day, and you can still see quite a few of them around.
Although it’s roughly the same story from the back, I would say that this angle unites them more closely than the front view. Pretty straightforward design, but also the right amount of attention to detail.
The boxy design language of the 124 saloon could also be seen on this Peugeot 404. There are some of them left here and there, and the Pininfarina design makes sure that they’re always an interesting sight.
A break in boxy design couldn’t have been more obvious than in the case of the Citroen DS. Both the second and the first generation, which I favor more, didn’t necessarily innovate by means of the idea of centering around a swoopy design, but I think that it was more about the particular approach taken: the car wasn’t fast by fighting and defeating the air anymore, but by working together with the currents. It wasn’t reluctant to get off the ground as more massive designs of the age suggested. Rather it would indicate that it was fine just hovering not far away from it.
Next up, two of the better restored Beetles from the show. Although the plates indicate that they are both from ’71, there are some little differences.
I’m no specialist when it comes to Beetles, so I’ll just let the commentariat establish what year they are.
Still, anyone can tell what these two are. They were also equipped with police sirens, which was a nice touch. For fast pursuits (considering that there were any cars back in the day that could pose any real problems in this respect), the police had some BMW 2800s. I’m not sure what they used after 1979, when a decree led to the replacement of all cars used by the state that had a consumption figure of more than 11 l/100 km (around 21 mpg).
Last up, “la malle coquille”. I have seen the Citroen AC4, which features it several times, but only now did I think of taking a closer look. On this curious little object it said “malle coquille”, and below “brev France (SGDG) & Etranger. Malle Coquille means “shell trunk”, which refers to a particular way in the trunk could be opened After a bit of research, I found out that SGDG means “sans garantie du gouvernement”, which means that the government doesn’t offer any guarantees for the functioning of the device. They couldn’t just write the legal notice on a piece of paper stuck on the trunk. They just had to make it beautiful.
The two ‘police’ cars are either Renault 12s (built from 1969) or the Dacia or (more likely) Oyak-Renault versions of the same.
They’re Dacia 1300’s. The one on the right is more easily distinguishable by the rubber ends of the front bumper.
I don’t know the little details as well on post ’67 Beetles, but I did get a chuckle at the license number on that olive Bug that ends with “KDF” (Kraft durch Freude = ‘Strength through Joy’ – the early Type I was called the KDF wagon).
As much of a vintage VW nut that I am, I’d take that Topolino in a heartbeat.
Presuming I’d even fit in it…
If it’s large enough for Gregory Peck, you should be fine…
You’d fit Ed I spotted one at a swap meet recently the guy who clambered out of it was huge
I really, really don’t need another car (or car project), but this car prompted me to do some CL/eBay shopping! Thankfully, they are scarce on the ground here in the US and a bit too expensive to become an impulse buy.
Surely most of them are mounted on drag racing chassis by this time?
Thanks for sharing these pictures. I grew up in Romania (until about 4 years old) and have not been back. I would love to see some normal street shots. Curious what people drive there.
Last time I was in Belgium, I saw some Dacia cars that looked kind of near. Like a small wagon, for example.
Dacia is doing very well, as far as I know they’re available across the entire continent. One can best describe them as Renault’s no-nonsense budget brand. The first model that was sold here was a square and simple sedan, the Logan, some sort of spiritual successor of the good old Lada….Based on older Renault technology, like the 1.6 liter gasoline engines.
Their current models look much better and more modern. And there’s a wider model range too. They also use today’s Renault technology, both gasolines and diesels.
A colleague of mine recently bought a new Dacia Sandero Stepway. A compact CUV, with a 900 cc 3 cylinder turbo gasoline engine. The same engine is in small Renault models.
Another popular Dacia model is the Duster, a compact SUV.
Here’s the Sandero Stepway:
Sort of like Renault’s answer to Skoda, then?
Renault and Dacia go back a long way. But I’d say that Skoda is not really Volkswagen’s budget-brand (anymore). This one is very popular right now, the Skoda Octavia Combi (wagon). Fully based on Volkswagen technology.
Nowadays you can see a lot of german cars, but also many Dacias, Renaults and Fords. As far as old cars go, in recent years the number of restored ones has grown, but very rarely do you get to see them in traffic. You could spot some Mercedes or Fiats in Bucharest, but not much esle. There’s a black DS that gets used quite a lot in the city centre, I’ll try and post some photos of it when I can.
There is a Rabbit convertible on Craigs here in Jacksonville that reminds me of the lead Fiat. That car was originally white but it has had orange and royal blue “touches” added to it. Unfortunate since it probably would have sold instantly if left in the factory color scheme.
If the police cars are Dacias, Dacia is a brand that is slowly becoming a bargain alternative to VWs (former) bargain brand Skoda.
The orange Beetle appears to be a VW1200, the low-end “stripper” model not sold in the US, and which still had the old-style bumper. The other one is a more typical “DeLuxe” or whatever they were called by then, either a 1300 or 1500 in Europe, and a 1600 in the US.
That white 404 looks exactly like mine. 🙁
You could be right I put a 71 1200 motor into a 59 1200 I restored, improved the performance like you wouldnt believe, rare engines only brought back for one year.
You beat me to it. I always wanted one of the 1200 models, if only for the pleasure of confounding American VW “experts”. Plus the old style bumpers and etc. are way more aesthetically pleasing.
I’d be all over that Giulietta Sprint first, closely followed by the Peugeot 404. Thanks for sharing!
So in Romania a “B” license plate indicates Bucharest? I think this scheme is used also in Germany with a first letter often indicating the city of registration.
Fascinating and gratifying to learn that the joy of old cars is also a part of culture in Romania. As little as we Americans know about Romania, it would have been one of the last eastern European countries where I would have guessed a real car culture existed. If I lived in Romania, I do not know that I would have fond memories of cars from the era that these vehicles come from.
Did the communist dictator have a collector car fleet and what has happened to that?
Thanks for the photos from Bucharest; I too would very much enjoy seeing street scenes of everyday cars in Bucharest.
The first letter (only for Bucharest, the other counties have two letters) indicates the county or district (I think that would be the equivalent of the romanian “județ”, the territory administered by a city). The numbers (two or three digits) are random, and so are the last three letters. You can opt for any combination as long it’s the only one in circulation. There are quite a few classic cars that have combinations with a certain meaning.
Some form of car culture began to exist in the interwar period, when more and more people began to afford cars. In the communist period, as pretty much everything spontaneous in society, it only resumed to some rally drivers and a few amateurs. After 1989, slowly, things started to come in their own again. The biggest influence that I can think of wasn’t the access that one could now have to new cars, but access to information. Information about the car culture that existed in the interwar period, which involved quite a diverse automobile market, racing drivers, rallies and circuits, winning the Monte Carlo rally in 1936, a few remarkable engineers and the like. In a word, passion. So people started to look back on the past and try to reconnect with it. Nowadays, the classic car scene is growing, slowly but surely, and people are finding new ways to express their passion for automobiles.
As far as I know, Ceausescu was was never very concerned with cars. State cars included: a 1960 Cadillac, a Mercedes 600, some ARO’s (rebranded GAZ) and some Jeep Wagoneers. They say that the list included a 1974 Buick Electra as well, but I have no information on it. In later years they would use a Renault 20, or Dacia 2000 as it was called. However, I’m not aware of any car collection.
I will post some pictures of everyday cars when I can. There aren’t all that many old cars left around, many have been scrapped in recent years due to cash-for-clunkers programs.
124 BC coupe for me. That rear end needs a ‘squarer’ licence plate, though. The Topollino is cute, my dad had one when he lived in Rome and remembers it fondly.
Beautiful photos, thanks! 404 for me.
Ahh, the Fiat 124 BC Coupe. Truly a dream car of mine.