My Beautiful Dacia, a story about a country and its car

I finally got over to watch “My Beautiful Dacia” (or in our language: “Dacia, dragostea mea” a 2009 documentary about the history of the Dacia car manufacturer but most importantly a mirror image of the country itself and how the different eras (communism and post-communism) have affected this brand’s capability to stay competitive in the car market.

Today, Dacia is recognized as a good and cheap brand of cars that will last you a couple of million miles. With a price tag around 12k euros in Europe (at the time of writing) is well within reach of most pockets. It’s amazing to see how this feeling of reliability has kept past the decades, as the same was said about the previous 1100 and 1300 models. It’s humbling to say the least to the efforts made by Romanian workers (and owners) to keep this brand alive to this day (2020) and for the years to come.

The documentary starts with a small conversation between a long-running director of Dacia (Constantin Stroe) and one of the old beneficiaries of the Dacia 1300 cars they built back then. It then follows Dacia through a series of historic moments, like the escape of Nicolae Ceausescu in (name coincidence) Nicolae Petrisor’s Dacia near Targoviste. In parallel the documentary follows the “escape” of the Bujor family to Spain to find work and it follows Miodrag Belodedici driving his sons to a football game with a sturdy and still running Dacia.

The brand aside, which in later years has reached finally a competitive gain in the market, helping itself (and Renault) get a big piece of the market share, I’m very fond on how the documentary authors have portrayed the history of Dacia in the context and in mirror to the countries communist and post-communist evolution, showing the downfall of Dacia at the same time as the fall of the country’s economy in the rising democracy which found most of the country unprepared for the “burden of liberty”.

The country has evolved since then and so has Dacia with the help of Constantin Stroe and the bigger Renault family. It’s no miracle today and it’s a well known fact that C. Stroe has made huge efforts in order to attract capital towards Dacia Mioveni, keeping alive a city of workers and to this day allowing a job to my in-laws (and of course, the parents of my wife). Constantin Stroe was later decorated by both the French and Romanian state for his services in the interest of both countries (and manufacturers).

If things weren’t this way, if Dacia closed, if my in-laws could not support my wife in Bucharest, pretty much it would be a certainty that we would never have met, never had a child, never became a family. It’s humbling to see what effects does the economy have on human condition and decision.

With some luck and work, we’ve been able to surpass the dependency on a factory to find work, as our parents have been forced to. My passion for about 20 or so years has been in programming and I’ve been able to cultivate that passion in a job market that is international in nature. My wife follows the same footsteps, has recently joined the IT domain and I hope she’ll follow through to become a decent programmer so that she becomes attractive to the job market.