For several years I drove a standard 1972 White Renault 12 TL as my everyday car, and used it to commute to and from work, a round trip of 82 miles per day.
It had its original 1289cc engine and was stunningly reliable and even got me home during an 8 ½ hour journey from work in epic snowfall on the M20 at Swanley in December 2010 where it was one of the last cars standing.
It had its faults; vinyl seats (red hot in the summer and freezing in the winter) a lousy heater (unless the car was moving) and a low ratio 4-speed gearbox, although it was capable of sustaining 68/70 mph for hours on end, the engine was revving at 4000 plus rpm which made it rather noisy! So I decided to build my perfect R12 for commuting and load carrying- a 12 estate it had to be. These are very rare in the UK but I managed to find three heaps, two of which were destined for the crusher, but enough to make one solid car.
I fitted a Fuego 1647cc engine, 5-speed R18 gearbox with the internals from a Renault 25 giving me even taller gearing (3.2 diff) I rebuilt a set of 12TL seats and had them covered in green velour. A huge Webasto sunroof, and a Dacia twin row heater matrix powered by a blower from a Vauxhall Nova.
I also fitted a heated rear screen, hazard lights, rear wash wiper from a Fuego, front and rear fog lights, intermittent wipers, reverse light, cigar lighter, electric screen washers, tinted windows, front /rear and tailgate door switches to operate two interior lights when opened.
Most of which items are taken for granted on a modern car, but can be sorely missed in the middle of a cold wet winter! After much angst we decided on Tropical Green Metallic as the body colour and it hit the road in 2011.
I use this car daily in all weather conditions, it has a good turn of speed and can maintain it for many miles with minimal engine effort (70 mph = 3100 rpm) and is capable of 6000 rpm. It is very popular amongst the Romanian community, I often hear the words “Dacia Dacia” when driving in SE London and it is frequently photographed.