1978 Dacia 1301 Lux Super 1.3 petrol from Romania
A very good car for its day
Over a period of twenty-six years I have had to do most things to the car: rust was a big problem, as was the gearbox.
The instrumentation is faltering a little, especially the petrol gauge, which gives a somewhat hit and miss approach to looking for petrol.
The interior is otherwise in seriously good condition, with everything original and hard-wearing.
The Dacia 1301 Lux Super was designed to be a more luxurious version of the standard 1300, for those who were Communist bigwigs or those who could afford the price of one and the bribe to be allowed one. As such, it differs slightly from the cooking 1300: it was listed with extra wing mirrors, a more comprehensive instrumentation, a radio and a heated rear window - the heady heights of Romanian 1970s luxury! There is also some sort of plug into which a fridge or a TV can be inserted if you're in that frame of mind. The problem with that is that it seriously saps the battery, so it's not exactly an option.
I have had mine since it was new and have not covered a vast amount of mileage in it; a second car has been doing the donkey-work in my family since the 80s.
It's still in reasonably good condition; the interior is all present and correct (and incidentally looks rather nice in black leather), while the exterior, while it has been extensively welded, retains all the original features of the Dacia which are getting fairly rare in Romania now. The car is a lovely dark maroon, which looks lovely, although the dirt shows up, and there is a lot of optional chrome running along the sides, which goes very well with it.
The performance isn't bad at all for such an old car; on a trip to Austria quite a few years ago it hit 138 kmh (about 90 mph), and now on the roads of Romania it touches 115/120 kmh quite regularly. It can hold its own with modern traffic, therefore, and is quite useful if you want to break the limit once in a while... handling is also not bad, considering that deep down it is only a 1960s Renault.
Spares are also not a problem, as everyone in Romania has a Dacia, although in Romanian terms new parts are not ridiculously cheap, a new engine costing about 150$ when the minimum monthly wage is about 120$ a month. When the exterior was redone a few years ago, the parts that were pretty far gone to repair were all bought new and it makes a big difference to the car, as these models rust pretty easily.
I am looking forward to the car being considered a classic rarity in Romania (as indeed it is; the amount of 1301s around is tiny): it's old, it's in nice condition and I intend to keep it up and running for many more years - it's a good enough car!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th March, 2004