Stories & Photos: Silviu's Renault 16

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I have a beautiful R16 made in 1967.
The R16 was my grandfather's car. It is still in a very good shape (it has only done 30 000 Km) because he has another car too, and keep the R16 in the garage.
The engine was in very good shape but the suspension, steering and brakes was very bad.
That's because Romanian roads and the whole infrastructure is very bad.
The western carmakers like Mercedes,Renault,VW,etc, only give 6 month warranty on a new car because no car can resist more in Romania.
An off road car seller said that it is good because he doesn't have to spend any money to build a testing terrain...(all Romanian roads are a hard test).
I recently saw some off road enthusiasts. They came from Germany and they where very happy
(our legislation allow them to drive anywhere in the forest - I think they intend to change this)
In Romania there still exist isolated villages (no electricity,no TV, no access roads).
People in these villages don't know how a train or a car look like. Imagine their reaction when they saw those cars.
My parents have a lot of spare parts because they have this R16 (it deserves the rest in the garage because it has done over 1 000 000 km.).

All R16 in Romania where imported in 1966-1970. As you probably know the president was Ceausescu and Romania was a communist country.
So, he decided to import Renault 16 and 12. For that reason a lot of R16 and R12 was imported in that period of time.
In '70 he decided to make R12 in Romania (bad luck for me).
From that moment no other car was imported untill '89-(every where you go -the same car).
The only exception was of course R16. Until 89 everybody called it "the queen of the road" because it was the most beautiful and powerful car on the road. No other car could outrun our R16 unless it was another R16.
Only a few people could afford to buy a R16 (it was more expensive than R12). So most of the owners are from Bucharest. In Bucharest I think there are still 200 R16 left, and 100 are used regulary.
After '89 a lot of powerful and reliable cars where imported in Romania.
Though R12 (called DACIA) are still numerous, a lot of other makes of cars are now present in Romania.
Even today when people see my car they say "the queen of the road-what a strong car!".
I began to repair the car in the spring time.Since I only worked on it in my spare time it took 6 months. I finished the repairing in the first week of the holiday. I intended to make a 2500 km. travel - a tour of my country.
The big question - Is the R16 reliable? - As you all know the answer is Yes.
After 33 years the R16 is still a reliable car (The engine manage well heavy gradient, off-roads, forest-roads, and the worst of all National Romanian roads).

First test drive was to the Because mountains with heavy gradients.
The R16 managed to reach the top.
This is a natural lake ( after a natural waterfall in the river).
ENGLISH NAME - RED LAKE you can see the trees
Now it was all downhill and the brakes where tested (R16 uses the time for this photo for resting)
This is the only time we used the tent.
As you can see I have opened the hood to check the engine (actually the only time - it gained my trust).
The horses also liked the R16 - I had some problems with that, but after I gave them the bread they became less intrested in the car.
The next day we climbed the mountain leaving the R16 behind.
We came back in the evening and drove it to the next stop.
I stopped the car on the right side to catch the sun set. On the right side you can see (if you look carefully) the road. On the left side there was a very big lake (it didn't appear in the picture).
Here you can see 2 unique and beautiful churches.
They are very famous because they are painted inside and outside as you can see.
There are lots of them in the west side of my country (specific for this part).
The most famous of them is Voronet.The interesting thing about it is the color 'blue - Voronet". The blue paint is still shining after 600 years.
Some specialists tried to find the secret of this long lasting paint without any success (the secret died with the worker because he dosen't tell anybody).
The pictures on these churces speaks like no priest can speak.
Long time ago a priest named Daniil dug out the inside of a big stone until he made it habitably.
He wanted to live far from any people to find himself and the truth.
The fourth part (the longest on this tour - my personal record is 2500 Km in 48 h Holland-Romania) took me to Apuseni mountains.
Suspensions test began - more than 50 km off road.
In this picture you can see a good horizontal piece of it (no asphalt or other pavement). it became harder after that - heavy gradient, very bad roads.
The engine worked very well so we managed to reach the top of the mountain.
The special thing about this region is that all the rivers go inside the mountains (there are a lots of caves, etc.)
I haven't see anything like this in Europe.
There are a lot of signs "do not follow the water if you get lost because sooner or later it will vanish".
In this picture you can see the entrance of a big cave - they call it PONOR.
(I don't know if picture quality allow you to see me - anyway I'm no more than a point)
This is a closer picture of the same cave. At the bottom of it, the water spring out from rock end go inside the mountain.
We had to use the lantern because there was no light. We followed the river for 2 hours and came out in another place. We didn't have time to visit all of these big caves because this mountain is amazing and there where a lot of other things to see.


R16 is a very good car for long trips (in Romania speed limit is 90 km/h so I have no handicap from that point of view).
The weak point is the suspension which I had to replace after the trip.
This spring I have to replace it again.
Other weak points are steering and curve stability.


Magnus Bjelk (

Last revision 2000-03-18