Dacia 1300: The car that started it all
Mihai, Architect at Renault Technologies

Familiar with the Dacia 1300? Mihai, architect at Renault Technologies in Titu, is one of the many Romanians who are fan about the iconic model. And for good reason: throughout the 1970s and 1980s, this was the very car that saw countless Romanians take to the road. Discover the history of the "other people's car" with a passionate owner who presents us his carefully restored 1989 Dacia 1310.

In Romania, neither Volkswagen nor the Beetle have become household names. The Romanian ‘people’s car’ is the Dacia 1300! It was that very car that put the nation on the road during the 1970s and 1980s. Mihai, who works as a Renault Technologies architect at the Titu Technical Centre, has many childhood memories tied to the model. Proud of having restored his father’s Dacia 1310, he has since become a devoted fan. He takes us on a trip around his darling car, and the history behind it.

Every Romanian has personal history with the Dacia 1300. It still turns heads when I take it for a drive.

Mihai, Architect at Renault Technologies

An emotional heritage

An iconic model in Romania for over three decades, the Dacia 1300 left its mark on the nation’s memory. A car for all families, taxis on every street corner throughout the country’s cities, and more: these are the fond memories that many Romanians still cherish of the iconic model. As Mihai puts it, “The Dacia 1300 is a robust, simple, and comfortable car; qualities that are true to the Dacia DNA.”

A 1975 Dacia 1300 estate car

Romanian customers and the local economy were quick to adopt the model. People hurrying to buy what was not only the most modern car in Eastern Europe in the 1970’s, but also the cheapest, selling for what would cost €3,200 today.

A family heritage

Mihai owns a 1.3 L Dacia 1310 TLX petrol that his father bought in 1992. Known as the Dacia 1300 for the initial run made between 1969 and 1979 – an identical copy of the French Renault 12 – it was then called the Dacia 1310 up until 2004. Our trusted fan points out that “the two main differences between the 1300 and the 1310 are the new design on the front end with four lamps and black centre grille, as well as the rear optics.”

A 1983 Dacia 1310

In the mid-1980s, Dacia cars were made using 98 % locally sourced parts, which made it easy to repair and restore older models with original parts. That is precisely how Mihai was able to restore his Dacia 1310 TLX back to its original condition with the support of the local network of fellow Dacia afficionados: “As time passes, there are more and more Dacia fans in Romania. And there are more Romanians discovering the model every year.”

Mihai, driving the Dacia 1310 inherited from his father

Mihai is often behind the wheel of his Dacia 1310. It was the very same car that his family would take on holiday, and it is also the one in which he learnt to drive. Countless memories that create a deep sentimental bond. But there is more to it than that. Mihai is proud to drive a Dacia car he considers to be a family heirloom to be passed down from one generation to the next.  “When I’m driving my Dacia 1310, I just feel good”, he confides.

A national heritage

Like Mihai, more and more Romanians are proud of Romania’s automotive heritage and seek to promote it. It must be said that the Dacia 1300 greatly improved mobility, and the inherent freedom therein, for all of Romania. As such, it holds a special place in the childhood memories of a whole generation of Romanians, all like Mihai.

The Dacia 1300, a national monument

The Dacia 1300 (and its later models) is also part of Romania's history due to its commercial success (2 million units sold) and its long-lasting production run (35 years, from 1969 to 2004). It underwent no fewer than six evolutions during that time and before sales came to an end in 2006, two years after production started on the Logan. "The Dacia 1300 is Romania’s iconic car. Its affordable price made it the true people’s car," Mihai explains.

The first Dacia, commercial success and then collector's cars

The extent of the Dacia 1300’s influence was not contained within Romanian borders, however, as it was widely exported to other countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Mihai is amazed at how reliable his Dacia 1310 has proven to be: while Mihai’s Dacia 1310 shows only 3,400 km on the metre, it is because it ticks over to zero every 99,999 kilometres... and it has already completed three full cycles!