Louis Renault

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Louis Renault
Louis Renault

Louis Renault produced his first car in the back yard of his parents house in 1898. His car was fitted with a 273cc "De Dion" engine and proved an immediate success, young Louis (then only 21) receiving many orders from potential customers.

Louis founded Renault Frères in Billancourt, Seine with his two brothers Fernand and Marcel. From 1900, Renault fitted 500cc De Dion engines, and then made twin-cylinder models such as the 1060cc 8 cv and the 4398cc four-cylinder 20cv.

Many of the twin-cylinder Renaults were used as taxis in Paris and London, where they survived for many years The first six-cylinder Renault, a 50cv 9.5-liter, was presented in 1908.

In 1912 Renault Frères offered no fewer than 15 different models, of which the best was the six-cylinder 40 cv of 7539cc. The following year a smaller six-cylinder-the 4523cc 22cv-appeared.

By the outbreak of war, Renault had become one of the most important manufacturers of cars in Europe. During the war the Renault taxis became the legendary "Taxis de la Marne" and Renault pioneered the building of light tanks.

After the Armistice, the twin-cylinder Renaults survived for only a few months in production, as Renault resumed manufacture of most of the pre-war models.

In 1923 Renault launched a new model to compete with the 6 cv Citroën: this was the 951cc 6cv "KJ". The same year came the six- cylinder JY of 4222cc, later enlarged to 4766cc. The 40 cv still continued, but since the war had been enlarged to 9123cc. In the late 1920s there was also a sv six of 1500cc, and many commercial vehicles.

A complete change came in 1929 with the firm's first straight-eight, the 7100cc "Reinastella", soon followed by the "Nerva". Nevertheless, none of the Renaults of the time-the "Monaquatre", "Monasix" or "Vivaquatre" was modern compared with the marque's arch-rival Citroën.

Renault had only just moved the radiator to the front of the car, having persisted with dashboard radiators for a quarter-century. The immediate pre-World War Two range was from 951cc to a 5.4-liter straight-eight. After the war, Renault was taken under government control and became the Regie Nationale des Usines Renault. They resumed production with the "Juvaquatre", and later with the rear-engined "4cv" of 760cc, which lasted until 1961.

The "Frégate", introduced in 1951, was the last of the front-engined, rear-drive cars made by Renault. The Dauphine came in 1956 and a "Dauphine Gordini" was presented the following year. In 1959 came the Floride, and three years later the 747cc R4 with front-wheel drive. After an attempt to build the American Rambler under license, the 956cc R8 arrived, giving way later to the "R8 S", the "Major" and the "Gordini".

The R16 was presented in 1965, followed four years later by the R12 and then the R6 in 1970. The R15and R17 came in 1971 and then the unsuccessful R12 "Gordini". Latest in the line in the 70s are the Rodeo (a sort of plastic Jeep), the R5 and the sporty R5-Alpine ("Gordini" in the UK), the R14, R18, R20 and R30.

Also see:
Honour Roll - Founding Fathers Of The Automotive Industry

Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource