Mihaela - My 2002 Dacia 1310
A Dacia is a rebadged French Renault 12 from the late 1960s. In France they were produced between 1969 and 1978 whereas in Romania they were pretty much the only car available from 1969 through 2004 when Romanians finally were able to take out bank loans and overnight started driving top of the range Mercs and BMWs. It is a true window into the Ceausescu regime as every owner had to become an adept mechanic himself to keep the car running. My experience has been no different and its been a challenge from the day I bought Mihaela in November 2014. Besides inordinate mechanical troubles, multiple stolen batteries because the hood doesn't lock like modern cars, the environmental tax was 750 euros that the peasant I bought the car from failed to mention. To date, she has cost me 5000 euros which just boggles the mind as I probably couldn't sell the car for anything. Dacias have all but vanished in Bucharest as a recycling program in 2004-2005 took them off the streets, but they are still the main mode of transport in certain remote rural areas of Romania. I imagine that when they were brand new they drove a bit better, but with only 62 horse power and no power steering Dacias were always the most rudimentary of cars. The smell of oil mixed with cheap vinyl is the dominant impression as you hold on tight trying to finesse the thing through city streets. With any luck I will drive Mihaela southwest from Bucharest into Teleorman County where she should feel at home. . .