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Could the Dacia Denem have been any worse than it was?

The Dacia Denem was an excellent example of a very well designed car that was brought low by Eastern European engineering standards and quality control.

The Renault 12 was roomy, comfortable, reliable and economical. So much so that altogether about 2 1/2 million of them were sold.It had a reliable 1300 cc engine producing a top speed of 90 mph. Many of them were built abroad under licence, including in Romania. Eventually the car became somewhat obsolete; in truth it had always been a stodgy performer but at least it was reasonably reliable. Unfortunately under Nicolae Ceausescu the priority was to produce as many cars as possible; quality control was at best very poor, and and at worst non-existant.

Renault moved onto better things; Dacia in Romania did not.

It was not just that they continued to assemble a car that was out of date. They assembled it in the shoddiest way imaginable. An attempt was made to sell them in the UK; this was hardly done professionally. As an example, their advertising slogan was 'The very acceptable Dacia Denem'. Fortunately the great British public didn't consider them acceptable at all so hardly any were sold over here apart from, reputedly, a small fleet bought by the Romanian embassy, and after just a year they gave up.

Despite all this the vehicle was a success overall with nearly one and a half million of them produced altogether. Over the years other variants have been introduced such as a pickup, hatchback and a coupe. Attempts to sell these in Britain have however met with complete indifference from the buying public, despite the very low prices that they were offered at.

The original Renault 12 was a good solid reliable vehicle. Rumanian craftsmanship at it's worst reduced it to a shabby and unreliable hack that only sold because there was precious little else available at the time in Eastern Europe; and it was cheap, in more ways than one.

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