I Was a Communist Car Czar

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
i was a communist car czar

Well, Ion Mihai Pacepa was. “When the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu decided in the mid-1960s that he wanted to have a car industry, he chose me to start the project rolling. 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 had spent most of his life running the service department of the General Motors affiliate in Bucharest.” Plus he was in charge of industrial espionage, which is also a good place to start. Pacepa wrote his recollections for the WSJ, because “the current takeover of General Motors by the U.S. government and United Auto Workers makes me think back to Romania’s catastrophic mismanagement [of its auto industry].” Though the differences between the US and Romania are legion, and not to be forgotten, the story makes for an interesting perspective.

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4 of 11 comments
  • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Jun 02, 2009
    A quick visit to Wikipedia would have cast a pitch dark shadow of doubt about the stated “facts” in general, I was thinking a few years back, even before wiki became big, when they were still considered a "respectable" journal. In hindsight that may very well been because people were more ignorant then. :)

  • 05gt 05gt on Jun 02, 2009

    ahh the Dacia. My home country's only attempt at making an automobile. It was quite a crappy car even after the communist party was ousted out of power.

  • Philip Lane Philip Lane on Jun 03, 2009

    Totally off topic, but isn't the idea of a communist czar a bit ironic?

  • Incitatus Incitatus on Jun 03, 2009

    I grew up in a Dacia 1300. A crappy car by today's standards, but not too bad for the situation in Romania 30 years ago and for the quality of the roads back there and then. The best think about Dacia was its built simplicity and robustness. Anybody with a minimum of mechanical prowess could fix that car with a minimum of parts needed. My father kept it for 34 years. The odometer would rewind back to 0 when it reached 99999 km. My father's memory is that it went 3 times through that cycle in the car's life. The same minimalism is still applied today which makes Dacia one of the cheapest cars in Europe and a great success. The going back to basics approach for commuter cars is the secret for making it in today's market. Maybe GM needs to learn something from Dacia.