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
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
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
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.
Honour Roll - Founding Fathers Of The Automotive Industry