The Unknown Off-Roader

Lego ARO 244

Today’s post is a car that we’d never heard of, despite more than 300,000 being produced over nearly forty years and it being sold in over one hundred countries. Back to school for TLCB Team…

This is the ARO 24-Series, a Romanian 4×4 launched in 1969 and sold, after many revisions, right up until 2006 when the company finally folded in rather weird circumstances.

ARO began by building a relicensed version of the Soviet GAZ-69 military 4×4 in the late-1950s before designing their own vehicles such as the 24. The 24-Series was a huge export success; over 90% of production was exported before 1989, with the model also built in Portugal and Italy.

After thirty-five years of production the Romanian government decided to sell ARO to an American businessman who planned to import the 24-Series to the US. He managed to convince 200 dealers to pay $75,000 each for franchise rights, and then pressured them to send more money for vehicles. The dealers refused insisting they pay on delivery, and the venture collapsed.

The Romanian government then learned that the buyer had sold the tooling and assets, and that the documents used to purchase ARO were falsified. They sued in 2006 and the import company fired all its employees, sold its headquarters and disappeared. It was a strange ending to a rather good car, one that was an unusual communist success story killed by capitalist greed.

Today’s creation depicts a second generation 24-Series and has been superbly built by previous bloggee Pixel Fox of Flickr. There’s more to see of his excellent Romanian 4×4 by clicking here, and you can discover his ever-expanding back-catalogue of brilliant mini-figure scale off-roaders by visiting the full album here.

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