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Report from Romania's Car Czar

Discussion in 'Politics, Elections & Legislation' started by MTA Tom, Jun 1, 2009.

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  1. MTA Tom

    MTA Tom Active Member

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    Report from Romania

    If you want some fascinating and very funny reading, check out the article (at the site above) from today's Wall Street Journal titled "What I Learned as a Car Czar" by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa.

    General Pacepa was appointed Romania's "car czar" when the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu decided in the mid-1960's that he wanted to have a car industry.

    "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. I knew nothing about manufacturing cars, but neither did anyone else among Ceausescu's top men. However, my father spent most of his life running the service department of the General Motors affiliate in Bucharest. My job at the time was as head of the Romanian industrial espionage program. Ceausescu tasked me to mediate the purchase of a minimum, basic license for a small car from a major manufacturer, and then to steal everything else needed to produce the car."

    The result was the infamous Romanian Dacia, a stripped-down copy of the stripped-down, discontinued Renault-12.

    An hilarious, cautionary story, and one I'm all too sure we're about to repeat.
     
  2. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    That's way above my expectations.

    google Trabant.

    HM
     
  3. MTA Tom

    MTA Tom Active Member

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    "Ceausescu was an extreme case, but automobile manufacturing and government were never a good mix in any socialist/communist country. In the late 1950s, when I headed Romania's foreign intelligence station in West Germany, I worked closely with the foreign branch of the East German Stasi. Its chief, Markus Wolf, rewarded me with a Trabant car -- the pride of East Germany -- when I left to return to Romania.

    That ugly little car became famous in 1989 when thousands of East Germans used it to cross to the West. The Trabant originally derived from a well regarded West German car (the DKW) made by Audi, which today produces some of the most prestigious cars in the world. In the hands of the East German government, the unfortunate DKW became a farce of a car. The bureaucrats and the union that ran the Trabant factory made the car smaller and boxier, to give it a more proletarian look. To reduce production costs, they cut down on the size of the original, already small DKW engine, and they replaced the metal body with one made of plastic-covered cardboard. What rolled off the assembly line was a kind of horseless carriage that roared like a lawn mower and polluted the air worse than a whole city block full of big Western cars.

    After German reunification, the plucky little "Trabi" that East Germans used to wait 10 years to buy became an embarrassment, and its production was stopped. Germany's junkyards are now piled high with Trabants, which cannot be recycled because burning their plastic-covered cardboard bodies would release poisonous dioxins. German scientists are now trying to develop a bacterium to devour the cardboard-and-plastic body." General Pacepa, in the referenced article.
     
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