1957 - Ongoing

Aro

Aro Key Features

  • Type of car:  Automotive manufacturer
  • Body type:  Off-Road Vehicle
  • Country of origin:  Romania
  • Built in:  Romania

Information about Aro

When one hears the name ARO, immediately conjured are images of rugged, off-road vehicles with a dash of European flair. Short for Auto Romania, ARO was a Romanian automaker that specialized in off-road vehicles. Established in the town of Câmpulung, the company started production in 1957 and concluded its initial run in 2003.

Originating from a factory initially constructed during World War II to produce airscrews, ARO transformed this facility into its base of operations post-war. Over the course of its original run, more than 380,000 vehicles were manufactured, with two-thirds being exported to a staggering 110 countries. ARO’s reach was indeed global; the vehicles even found homes in Brazil, Italy, and Portugal, often sold under different brand names.

Production for ARO commenced with the IMS-57, part of the IMS Series, and was modeled after the GAZ-69. It wasn’t long before this model was succeeded by the M59, and eventually the M461. Over the years, design and mechanical refinements were incorporated into the models, clearly distinguishing each new generation from its predecessor.

A significant turning point for ARO came in 1972 with the launch of its 24 Series—a complete redesign that offered a variety of models and configurations. The series was such a hit that it was later complemented by the 10 Series in 1980. These vehicles, which came in various body trims and engine options, showcased ARO’s adaptability and versatility. ARO’s technology found additional applications too, including light commercial vehicles.

The durability of ARO’s chassis was further evidenced by its utilization in armored variants. A unique model named the ABI (Autovehicul Blindat pentru Intervenție) was created for internal security duties, featuring an ARO engine and varying levels of armor. These vehicles saw exportation to countries like Liberia and Algeria.

However, the brand’s journey was not without bumps. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a series of unfortunate events, including ill-fated franchise agreements in the U.S. and legal complications, led to the company’s downfall. The Romanian state eventually sold a majority stake to Cross Lander, a company owned by Cuban-born American businessman John Perez, but alleged contract violations and financial mismanagement culminated in bankruptcy for ARO in June 2006.

Yet, the story of ARO doesn’t end there. A glimmer of hope emerged as a Czech company, Auto Max Czech (AMC), undertook the mission to restart low-volume production. In addition, Amrom Automotive 2006 has been in negotiations to purchase ARO from its creditors, intending to resume production at the original Câmpulung factory.

So, while ARO has had a rollercoaster of a journey—from widespread acclaim to legal pitfalls—its legacy and potential resurgence make it a fascinating chapter in the annals of automotive history. Whether or not the brand will fully revive is still a question, but its indelible mark on the off-road vehicle market remains indisputable.

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