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History of Dacia - and its greatest cars

While Dacia only arrived in the UK in 2013, the marque has been producing cars since 1968. Here’s a look at its history and landmark models…

1966 was a groundbreaking year. It saw the England football team triumph over Germany in the World Cup final, the Beatles played their last ever UK show and Russia successfully landed its Luna 9 spacecraft on the moon. It was also the year that Romanian car manufacturer Dacia was born.

The brand began life in Romania, founded by the government of Nicolae Ceausescu. It wasn’t until 1968, after a licensing agreement with Renault was signed, that production of the very first Dacia car could begin. Based on the Renault 8, the Dacia 1100 kick started the marque’s mission of producing modern, robust family cars that were still affordable to buyers.

Fast forward to 1999 and Renault takes a controlling stake in Dacia. The next few years saw the Logan family saloon sold across mainland Europe, along with the introduction of the Sandero and Duster models that are now staples of the budget-friendly brand’s line-up. Then in 2013, Dacia was officially launched in the UK, offering new levels of family car affordability. Dacia proudly announced with its first TV advert for the £5,995 Sandero: ‘We don’t do frivolity, function’s our thing’ and that just about sums it up.

Since then, Dacia has sold more than 200,000 cars in the UK alone and over eight millions cars worldwide. The model range has continued to expand, and here in Britain it now includes the second-generation of the Duster, the third-generation Sandero, the more rugged Sandero Stepway and the UK’s cheapest 7-seater, the Jogger. Elsewhere in the world, the Logan saloon lives on, and the fully-electric Dacia Spring is helping make EVs more affordable.

There’s plenty of new stuff coming, like the Bigster SUV, a third-generation Duster and a genuine SUV that’ll bear the Stepway name. But for now, we thought it worth taking a look back at some of Dacia’s historic cars, including some models you might have never heard of before.

Dacia 1100 – 1968

Dacia’s first-ever car: a Renault 8 produced under licence. It was essentially a stopgap model until the factory was ready to make the 1300, and production of the rear-engined, rear-drive car lasted only from 1968 to 1972.

Dacia 1300 – 1969

Production of the 1300, which was based on the Renault 12, started in 1969 and outlasted that of the 1100. Dacia made the model until 1978, when its licensing agreement with Renault ended.

Dacia 1310 – 1979

The 1300 evolved into the 1310. Introduced in 1979, the passenger model was produced right up until 2004, with a pick-up continuing until 2006. The car spanned six generations.

Dacia 1305 drop side pick-up – 1994

Dacia has a long history of making workhorsepick-ups, which are a common sight on Romanian roads. This single cab is based on the 1300 and features a drop-side load bed.

Dacia Logan – 2004

Fulfilling one of Renault’s targets when acquiring Dacia in 1999, the Logan was priced from 5,900 Euros. It was initially intended for developing nations, but was later sold in western Europe.

Dacia Duster concept – 2009

Dacia’s first-ever proper concept car, this SUV with its wild rear-hinged doors was revealed at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Part of the rear can be removed to turn the vehicle into a pick-up.

Dacia Duster – 2010

While much more restrained than its concept forebear, the production Duster proved a huge hit, becoming the first single Dacia model to breach the one-million-sales mark.

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