On display at the Romanian History Museum is the first car registered in Romania, produced in Belgium in 1900:  F.N. HERSTAL. 

  1. Producer

This car left the factory of the FABRIQUE NAȚIONALE D’ARMES DE GUERRE (F.N.) in Herstal, a town near Liege, with serial number 40.

The F.N. was founded in 1889 by an association of arms manufacturers in the Liege region to fulfil an order from the Belgian government (150,000 Mauser rifles). Although known as the largest manufacturer of small arms, over the years the factory has produced bicycles, motorcycles and even cars, with a focus on motorcycles (1905 – first four-cylinder motorcycle, 81 world records for sports models).

Groupe Herstal SA currently operates through two subsidiaries Fabrique Nationale Herstal – where white weapons, rifles, alarm systems (generally weaponry for the military) and Browning Arms Company – where rifles and sporting pistols are produced.

2. Owner

The owner of the F.N.- was Bassil Gheorghe Assan (1880-1918), son of the industrialist who built in 1853, in Bucharest, the first mill driven by a steam engine (now exhibited at the Technical Museum “Dimitrie Leonida”).

3. Technical data

With a two-seater Faeton body, the car is powered by a twin-cylinder engine arranged transversely at the front and started by a crank. Fuel is fed to the engine from a ‘mixer’ (the precursor to the carburettor) and ignited by an electric spark from two low-voltage magnets. Under the passenger seat are the fuel (gasoline) tank and the water tank which cool the engine with a serpentine-type radiator.

The two gears are shifted by two crossed friction belts by moving a lever on the steering column (1st gear/left, 1st gear/right). From the drive shaft, torque is transmitted via two chains.

Both axles are rigid, the suspension is provided by longitudinal leaf springs. Steering is via a chain and two steering levers. Acceleration is manually operated via a steering column pulley and a pulley system.

For night-time driving, the car is equipped with two petrol lanterns. The wheels are fitted with rubber tyres.

4. Image gallery

There is also an anecdotal story about this car: because Prince George Valentin Bibescu wanted his car to be the first to be registered, but Assan’s vehicle had already received number 1, the Prefecture of the Capital found a compromise solution, registering the Prince’s car with number 0.


Sursa datelor: Muzeul Național de Istorie a României 

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