1982 Oltcit Special 0.652L, 2 opposite cylinders from Romania


Pretty reliable (easy to fix), low consumption, cheap car


Well, in 20+ years things will get ugly with any car, and this is not exactly a German car :) My father has owned it for the first 20 years, I've only been using it for the last 3 years.

From the first years of ownership the fuel filter kept getting clogged, that's probably not the car's fault, the gas was horrible in Romania. As a workaround it was replaced with a custom made filter, worked like a charm for the last 20 years or so.

Carburator had a very annoying behavior, when it was clean it was very easy to flood the engine, when dirty and clogged the car had hiccups.

Clutch had to be changed twice in spite of the low kilometer count. And it seems I have to change it again.

The interior is pretty much screwed up after such a long time.

All doors have been replaced, but the rust hasn't forgiven the chassis either.

It eats a lot of oil now, old age is showing.

The original ignition contact broke after 20 years, I replaced it with a new part which broke in 2 years. I guess they don't make things like they used to.

Most of the locks (even the gas cap) have been replaced after breaking them during winter.

General Comments:

The car had mostly French parts as it was in the first batch of Oltcit cars ever produced in Romania. This really helped as most of the original parts are still in their place doing their job.

My father hasn't used it that much, I mean 60 000km in 20 years, that's the kind of car you only take out on picnics if you ask me, and if I think about it, for the first 16 years (during Ceausescu) that's the only thing it's been used for.

As with the other more powerful Oltcits, it is a very nimble car, very useful around town. Never managed to get it stuck in snow or mud.

The carburator is sometimes a problem, it's a good idea to learn how to take it apart and clean it. Usually the gas is the cause of the problems or maybe some old filter.

The 4 speed manual gearbox is a wonder. I mean after twenty years no mechanic has ever touched it, and it still works like new. As a comparison I tried to drive a new Dacia 1310 once and I found the transmission horrible. I mean come on, the third gear was killing me, like you needed to know a secret handshake in order to make it stay there, I couldn't really tell if it was in gear or not and kept getting it in fifth or simply out of gear. I felt I had to make an effort to make the car understand what I wanted, while in the Oltcit everything worked as I intuited it would.

On the low side it is very lazy, it only has 34bhp, and my father managed to reduce that even more. He asked a mechanic to tune the carburetor for minimal consumption. That's overkill for a car with 652cc engine, it was doing 5L/100km anyway, but my father was too cheap to appreciate that.

Another downside is the consumption during low temperatures, my father hasn't really used it during winter and this year I found out why. It eats about 16-20L/100km around town, which I thought it would be impossible with such a small engine. I really thought I had a gas leak or something, but that wasn't the case. As the spring approached I changed the oil and everything returned to normal, now it does 8L/100 in town.

An uncle of mine has the exact same model (2 cylinders, 652cc) and I was surprised at the acceleration his car had. I mean in my car I put my foot down on the accelerator and not much happens, a bit of screeching maybe, but that's about it, you can't really tell that the driver put his foot down. Now in this other car, when I put my foot down the car screams and screeches for a few good seconds, and you can feel it pushes you in the seat. This second car has a carburetor which is a bit different than mine, as I found out later, the downside is it eats more gas when you push it, but at least you can push it.

This car has its problems now, everything in the car screeches and squeaks, it is rather noisy even for the people inside the car. The inside of the car was never made sound proof and you can literally hear the engine run at full sound, which isn't really a bad thing though, friends keep asking me what engine does it have and can't believe when I tell them it's a 0.65L engine. On the other hand this doesn't make the car very useful for long trips, it simply drives you mad with all the noise it makes. Besides, I don't really have the courage to go on a long trip in this car. I mean it's pretty reliable around town, but I wouldn't risk being caught with a problem somewhere "in the wild".

It still takes me from A to B around town in good time and at a reasonable mileage, so I still like it. Besides, I wouldn't get more than 200$ on it if I sold it, so why would I? I'd rather give it away to some poor student.

I guess there's no car like your first car :)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 2nd May, 2005

4th Dec 2005, 05:41

Great review. I also have a Oltcit Special, from 1984. Actually, it was my mother's. It doesn't work now, it hasn't been for the last 10 years, but I'm planning to repair it and give it a new look. The engine is not state of the art, but it's reliable, so I guess this is a good car to drive around in town.

11th Apr 2006, 23:59

Same general ideas here also. same 1982 special kind of car :). just a couple of days ago it reached 95.000 kms. I have two additions though:

1. I have used the car for long journeys (in the 300-500 km range) and I can say the car loves the open road. It doesn't go very fast (80-90 km/h) if you want to survive, but in that speed range the whistling sound (caused by the air cooling) of the engine is the best I've heard in a car.

2. On the downside, good reliable spare parts are available all over Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy), as it's basically a Citroen Visa Special, BUT not in its homeland. Here everything you buy is almost as expensive as in the UK, but it fails in a couple of weeks.

15th Mar 2009, 04:27

We also had in our family a Special for 13 years (~100k km). Was sold after this period with original paint (very good condition), original BOGE dampers and very good condition cognac interior. Very interesting solutions adopted for a car at that time (electronical ignition Thomson/Motorola, toothed wheel distribution, Nikasil, etc). We have nice memories from the "Oltcit Era"... communism, poverty... and a good friend: Oltcit ;)

28th Mar 2009, 07:46

I'm seeking a repair manual for this model. I have an Oltena car (I believe that it is a variant of Oltcit) and its motor needs maintenance, but we haven't skilled technicians in this model..

I will be so happy if I can find a repair manual for this model.

Thank in advance.

30th Jan 2023, 15:48

It is interesting that this 600cc engine was a flat 2 cylinder boxer, while the bigger 1100cc and 1300cc versions were 4 cylinder flat boxers. These engines were from the Citroen Visa vehicle sold in Western European countries.