Since 1957, the Romanian carmaker ARO had been manufacturing off-road vehicles with a licensed Soviet model GAZ 69. However, upon request from the Communist Party for an original design, engineers crafted an entirely new vehicle – the ARO 24 – which was eventually released to market in 1972. Unlike other off-road cars of its time, this particular model boasted a front independent suspension and curved chassis that enabled it to provide more comfortability on roads.
ARO released the car in a variety of body styles, including three and five-door versions as well as a convertible. The simple, flat design was evidenced throughout the vehicle with minimalistic features such as horizontal headlights recycled from other Romanian vehicles to reduce cost. Furthermore, its front fascia included a grille with vertical slats similar to that featured on Gaz69 models while also featuring an integrated metallic bumper directly affixed onto the chassis' ends.
Within the vehicle, there were two seats in the front and a bench for three people in the back. According to what version you had chosen, rear passengers could have access to doors or not. Read more
The ARO 24 was initially mounted with a 2.5-liter petroleum engine, which worked alongside a 4-speed manual gearbox and high/low equipment transfer case for the 4x4 system. Later on, this vehicle was outfitted with varying engines designed by Peugeot, Toyota, Ford or VM Motori.
Following the deposition of Romania's communist government in 1989, ARO sought to become an independent car manufacturer. Specializing in off-road vehicles, their ladder chassis and individual front suspension were groundbreaking when it first appeared during the 70s; however by the 90s this technology had become outdated. As a result, they upgraded their engines and began selling models overseas - showcasing modern components combined with classic designs. The most devastating setback was in North America, as the ARO 24 failed to meet IIHS's roll-over safety tests and barred its entrance into the market. This event marked a fateful turning point for small carmakers, initiating their ultimate demise.
In 1991, the design team worked tirelessly to devise innovative concepts and modernize the look of their vehicle. First, they swapped out its headlights for a contemporary set of twin round lamps. Keeping up with global trends, they moved the signal lights into the bulkier front bumper. The majority of the car stayed flat and edged in that retro style – yet still aesthetically pleasing.
Inside, the interior came with a variety of materials – from standard cloth to luxurious leather upholstery. Furthermore, many versions had air-conditioning and power windows for added comfort. The top model featured an impressive 4.0-liter Ford V6 engine paired with a smooth four-speed automatic gearbox - though it unfortunately never made it into production.
Aside from limited orders for special vehicles, the remainder of the models featured two turbodiesel engines. Additionally, 4x4 systems were outfitted with a low-range transfer case for immense versatility in any terrain.