Dubbed "Project 117", the all new Renault 12 was designed to fill the gap between the Renault 8 and Renault 16. First launched at the Paris Motor Show of 1969, the original iterations were only available in L and TL specifications.
The up-market TL boasted two seperate reclining front seats (in place ot the L's single bench set-up), door arm-rests, boot and glovebox lights, a heated rear window and extra warning lights.
During a 12 year production run, Renault introduced other models to the line-up, the best being the Renault 12 Gordini model, which was equipped with an all-aluminum 1565cc engine taken from the Renault 16 TS.
Fitted with two double barrel Weber carby's making the engine good for 125 bhp (93 kW), the blue and white Gordini could reach a top speed of 185 km/h.
In October 1972, the more upmarket R12 TS was introduced. It used same 1289 cm³ engine as in other R12s, but was equipped with a single, double barrel Weber carburetor, which increased power considerably and raised top speed to 150 km/h.
Aesthetically, the car was distinguishable from other R12's by its special Gordini-style wheels, a chrome strip along the side of the car, and two extra headlights. The TS also featured integrated headrests, a rev-counter and a cooling-fluid temperature gauge.
In October 1973, the R12 TR appeared. This model slotted between the TL and TS, and had automatic transmission as standard. The whole range was facelifted in 1975 with a new grill, rear lamps and dashboard.
During its 12 year production run, the Renault 12 proved incredibly popular throughout Europe and
many other countries. The motoring press praised the cars comfortable interior, performance and frugal fuel consumption.
In fact, the only country where the mid-sizer was considered below par was in the US, where the lack of power steering and road noise counted heavily against it. After all, this was an era in the US where having the driver "disconnected" from the bitumen was considered a virtue.