What would you do with 46 engine-less Romanian cars?

Illustration for article titled What would you do with 46 engine-less Romanian cars?

It sounded like a million-dollar idea: import cheap cars from Eastern Europe, convert them to electric power, and sell them in the US for $40,000 a pop. Now, someone is stuck with 46 engineless Dacia Logans. Bummer, or bummertunity?


The model in question is the very cheap (and somewhat cheerful) Logan MCV built by Dacia, Renault's Romanian subsidiary and former Eastern Bloc licensee/producer of Renault cars going back to the late 1960s. The owner of the engineless cars is an Iowa company that once comprised a partnership formed to build electric cars under the name EnVision Motor Company.

A complicated legal battle for custody of the 46 VIN-less rollers, worth $872,850, was recently resolved in Iowa courts. Now, the cars' custodial owner, Auto Manufacturing Systems Inc. of Webster City, is apparently looking to liquidate its collection of Dacia models. While the EnVision ownership was apparently a mishmash, the chassis were paid for by a company owned by a Des Moines car dealer, which has also been floating plans to sell Chinese-made cars.


EnVision Motor Cars's sister company, Electric Motor Cars, still hopes to move forward with plans to build electric cars at a new facility in North Carolina. EnVision had planned to sell the electrified Dacia models starting at $39,300 for a cargo van and $42,300 for a passenger wagon.

Now, the engineless Romanian Renaults can be yours. So, what would you do with all these Dacias, since they can't likely be driven legally on public roads without the electric-car loophole? We're voting for a new gravity-racing series that starts at the top of Pike's Peak.

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What would prevent someone from buying one, installing their own powerplant (you could probably get a refurbished Renault F-Type engine from an old Renault-AMC Alliance or Encore or Eagle Medallion to fit without much trouble), and titling it as a "specially constructed vehicle"?

I don't see how it would be any different than buying a custom tubular chassis and fiberglass body from some hotrod company and sticking in a crate engine. On most new hot rods, the parts are all-new, have never been part of another car, have not been assembled by an established automaker, the car has not been subjected to destructive crash testing, and lacks most modern safety features, however, they are still titled, inspected, and driven on the roads with "constructed" titles. If you can do it with an American Street Rod '41 Willys replica rolling chassis, you can do it with a Dacia Logan MCV rolling chassis.