Renault History

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Renault History

Renault

 1899 - present
Country:
France
It was in the late 1800's that a young Frenchman called Louis Renault began tinkering with mechanical things. By 1898 he had taken over the tool shed at the bottom of the family garden and set about converting a de Dion tricycle into a four-wheeler. A year later he joined forces with his two brothers and formed Renault Freres, a company for the manufacture of cars.

By the mid 1960's the Renault empire had grown to employ close to 90,000 workers in a group of 15 companies. And it is between these important extremes that there is a romantic history. In the beginning the Renault brothers made a name for their voiturettes in the great road races of the era: Paris-Berlin, Paris- Madrid and Paris-Vienna, the greatest of them all.

Then they turned to volume production and diversification of interests with an 8 hp taxi in 1906, a V8 aero engine in 1907 and a production of cars in 1913 of over 10,000. With the 1914-18 war there was a switch to munitions and the sight of the revolutionary Renault light tank storming through the German lines in the last summer of the war must have been awesome.

Renault Empire Linked by River Barges



The next 20 years of peace brought the foundations of the present Renault empire based on the Seine where the four main plants were linked by river barges. Three iron foundries, a steel and an aluminium foundry, rolling mills, stamping and press shops, were only the beginning. In the 1930's, motor sport and record breaking again brought the name of Renault to the headlines, both with cars and aircraft.

Then came the second world war, and Paris sunk in flames. When the reckoning came in 1944 it was estimated that over half the buildings, a third of the machines and, worst of all, the files and designs were all lost. Accused of collaboration, Louis Renault died in Fresnes prison in October 1944.

The Renault 4CV



Out of the ashes came nationalisation, new management and a keen effort to revive. Cars were desperately needed all over the world, so it was decided to tool up for a high volume of economy cars. Thus the Renault 4 CV began, slowly at 12 per day in January 1948, rising to 225 per day by the end of the same year and to 400 per day in 1950. It ran for 16 years, until July 1961, by which time over one million had been made.

From a rear engine layout for the 4 CV and its bigger brother Dauphine, there had been a swing towards front-wheel drive. The replacement for the 4 CV, the plain Renault 4, and the top car in the Renault range, the Renault 16, both utilized front-wheel drive. The middle-sized Renault 8 and Renault 1100 however stuck with the original post-war configuration, by then much refined of course.

Since the Fregate of the early 1950's there had not been a Renault of more than 1 litre in engine capacity. On 22 April, 1966 an agreement was published between Renault and Peugeot to collaborate on research and provide mutual assistance in foreign markets. The first result of this co-operation was been the TS engine for the Renault 16 TS.
MAKE
1966
1967
Renault
37.5
40.2
Citroen
27.3
25.7
Peugeot
18.1
20.3
Simca
16.6
13.4

During the late 1960's Renault enjoyed a healthy increase in market share, the table left showing percentages of sales of French makes for the first six months of 1966 and 1967 respectively.

As far as individual models are concerned, the Renault 4 led production in 1967 with a figure double that of its nearest competitor, the Citroen Ami 6. That year Renault exports rose by 14 per cent, German sales leapt from 58,000 to 70,000 and British sales grew from 12,500 to 18,000. In addition to the French factories there were 30 assembly plants located in Ireland, Belgium, Canada, South America, Africa, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.

The Renault 5



The company's compact and economical Renault 5 model, launched in 1972, was another success, particularly in the wake of the 1973 energy crisis. The R5 remained in production until 1984 when it was replaced by the Super5. The formula was much the same however, and the Super5 inherited its styling lines from its father (however with a transversal engine, as opposed to the longitudinal engine inherited by the first generation Renault 5 from the Renault 4).

Renault Dauphine
From a rear engine layout for the 4 CV and its bigger brother Dauphine, there had been a swing towards front-wheel drive...


Renault 4
As far as individual models are concerned, the Renault 4 led production in 1967 with a figure double that of its nearest competitor, the Citroen Ami 6...
Soon after, the four-door Renault 12 model slotted into the Renault range between the R6 and the R16, and introduced a new styling theme. Throughout the '70s the R4, R5, R6, R12 and R16 maintained Renault's production. In the '80s the latter two were replaced by the R9 (and its R11 sedan variation) and the R15/R17 sport coupes.

Both the R15/R17 were essentially identical two-door coupes, but while the R15 had a large glassy greenhouse, the R17 had thick pillars behind the doors, with slatted windows, to make it look the sportier of the two.

Endangered like all of the motor industry by the energy crisis, during the mid seventies the already expansive company diversified further into other industries and continued to expand globally, including into South East Asia.

The energy crisis also provoked Renault's attempt to reconquer the North American market; despite the Dauphine's success in the United States in the late 1950s, and an unsuccessful car-assembly project in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, (1964–72), Renault as a stand-alone brand, began to disappear from North America at the end of the '70s.

Partnering with Nash



Throughout the decades Renault developed a collaborative partnership with Nash Motors Rambler and its successor American Motors Corporation (AMC). From 1962 to 1967, Renault assembled complete knock down (CKD) kits of the Rambler Classic sedans in its factory in Belgium. Renault did not have large or luxury cars in its product line and the "Rambler Renault" would be aimed as an alternative to the Mercedes-Benz "Fintail" cars.

Similar to the fate of some of these Mercedes cars at the time, many of these "American" Renaults finished their life working as taxis. Later, Renault would continue to make and sell a hybrid of AMC's Rambler American and Rambler Classic called the Renault Torino in Argentina (sold through IKA-Renault). Renault partnered with AMC on other projects, such as development of a rotary concept engine in the late 60s, and would eventually own AMC in 1980.

KEY TO DATA (Table Below)

F = front engine; R = rear engine; IL = in-line; DR = drum brakes all round; DF = front disc brakes; D = four wheel disc brakes; V = vacuum servo assistance. LEGEND: Cap = Engine Capacity; Ly = Engine Layout; Cp = Compression Ratio; Pwr = Net Power Output at specified RPM; Max = Maximum Speed in Miles Per Hour; 0-60 = 0-60 Miles Per Hour; ¼ Mile = Standing Quarter Mile; Cs = Fuel Consumption; Tk = Fuel Tank Capacity; Br = Brake Configuration; Wb = Wheelbase; Tr = Widest Track, Ht = Vehicle Height; Wd = Vehicle Width; Lt = Vehicle Length; Tc = Turning Circle; St = Seating Capacity.

Recommended Reading: Renault Car Reviews | Louis Renault

The Renault's That Made The Company What It Is Today...
Model
Cap.
Ly.
Cp.
Pwr
Max
0-60
¼ Mile
Cs.
Tk.
Br.
Wb.
Tr.
Ht.
Wd.
Lt.
Tc.
St.
4L
845
F4
8.0
28@4700
72
32.1
23.3
38.6
5
DR
8 0¼
4 1¼
5 0½
4 10½
12 0
28 6
4
8
1108
R4
8.5
46@4600
82
20.6
21.9
36.4
8½
D
7 5¼
4 1¼
4 5½
4 10½
13 1
30 6
4
8 auto
1108
R4
8.5
46@4600
-
-
-
-
8½
D
7 5¼
4 1¼
4 5½
4 10½
13 1
30 6
4
1100
1108
R4
8.5
46@4600
-
-
-
-
8½
D
7 5¼
4 1¼
4 5½
4 10½
13 9¼
30 6
4
1100 auto
1108
R4
8.5
46@4600
80
24.8
23.0
34.6
8½
D
7 5¼
4 1¼
4 5½
4 10½
13 9¼
30 6
4
1300 Gordini
1255
R4
10.5
88@7650
108
10.9
17.7
22.5
14¼
DV
7 5¼
4 1¼
4 3½
4 10½
13 1
30 6
4
Caravelle Coupe
1108
R4
8.5
51@5400
89
17.6
20.9
30.4
8½
D
7 5¼
4 1¼
4 3½
5 2
14 0
30 6
4
16
1470
F4
8.6
55@5000
88
16.7
20.8
26.9
11
DF
8 11
4 1½
4 5½
5 5
13 10½
33 0
5
16TS
1565
F4
8.6
83@5750
100+
12.9
18.6
28.0
11
DFV
8 11
4 1¾
4 5½
5 5
13 11¾
33 0
5
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