Specifications  Road Tests  

Renault Cars

Renault Cars Renault Cars
Country of car origin : France
First Car : 1898
Brief History of Renault Cars



100 Years of Renault

In1898. Louis Renault was celebrating his birthday, he chose the occasion to launch his new automobile: RENAULT Type A. Louis was just 21 years of age.


The Type A had 270 cc engine (1,75 hp) and a three-speed gearbox, it could reach 30 mph.

The Type A was based on the DeDion quadricycle design.

1899 Louis and brothers Marcel and Fernand open Renault Fréres  at 10, Avenue du Cours, Billancourt.  

Renault Frées then participated at the Paris Auto show which was held on the 12 June with 2 different models: Type A and B. 

The Type B had a 450cc engine.

before the turn of the century year 76 vehicles were build by the 110 people working at Renault Fréres.

Type A

1901 The Renault range expanded to include the models D and E. The first international licensing contract is signed, with an assembly plant in Belgium. At the 4th Paris Motor Show Renault sells its entire 1902 production output in advance

1902 The very first Renault-engine was built, this was a 3750cc 4-cylinder engine of 20-30 hp. It was built for the Paris-Vienna race which Renault won. In the same year Renault files a patent for an engine supercharger system.

1903 Renault Fréres participitated in the Paris-Madrid race. The  race was a disaster, ten drivers died including Louis' brother Marcel. Renault was shocked and he withdrew all his cars. The race was later stopped by the French government.

1906 the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneaur was conferred on Renault for his work to develop the motor industry.
Renault's first bus leaves the factory.

1907 Renault starts to produce aircraft engines. 3800 vehicles are produced this year.

1909 Fernand Renault dies, Louis Renault is now alone owner of the Renault Fréres and since there were no fréres left he changed the name to Les Automobiles Renault.

1914 The First World War breaks out and the famous "Taxis de la Marne" make a historic contribution to victory over the German troops at the battle of the Marne, by helping transport 6500 soldiers to the front. Les Automobiles Renault produces tanks, ambulances and aircraft engines for the Allied Army. After the war Louis got another Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneaur medallion for his contribution for the war effort.

1920 The first new Post-war model was introduced: the 10CV. It was the first Renault with the steering wheel on the left side. 

1922 the Les Automobiles Renault ceased to exist and the Sociétè Anonyme de Usines Renault was born. This year yet another model was introduced: 6CV, which had a 950cc engine (18hp).

1924 Renault sets up a finance company: DIAC so that Renault dealers can offer easy-payment schemes for sales of vehicles and equipment.

1925 the diamond symbol becomes Renault's official logotype, it was first seen on the hood of the 40CV.


Renault 40CV
From 1925  brakes on all four wheels became standard on all Renault cars.  

The Renault NN was introduced and it was a car which "never" broke down. 

George Estienne used a Renault NN to cross the Sahara in January 1927. Estienne's trip of almost 10000 miles was completed without any mechanical breakdown - even without changing a plug.


1927 The Monasix is presented. It was equipped with a poor  6 cylinder engine (12,5 hp). 

1928 The Monasix's lack of popularity led to the engine being replaced by a 4-cylinder  lighter engine and it turned out to be a good decision. 

The Taxi companies of Paris ordered several Monasixes, and Until 1962 these cars were still to be seen in Paris, and most of them had been driven over 1 million km.

1930 the Nervastella is launched, it takes the first three places in the Morocco Rally 

1938 Louis visited Berlin and saw the Kraft durch Freude (VW beetle) prototype and he was impressed . 

When he came home he started immediately started to plan a French KdF.

When the World War II started in 1939, it stopped the production of the civilian cars. 

During the war the work on a French KDF did go on in secrecy, and it resulted in first prototype of the 4CV that saw the daylight on the 23. December 1942.

French companies, like Renault were forced to work for the Germans but allegedly Louis let the production slow down as much possible.

1942-43 the Allies bombed the Renault factories 

1944  Louis was arrested for collaboration with the Germans. During the investigation he was placed at the Fresnes prison.  He died there on the 24. October, in a shroud of secrecy.

1945 Even without Louis Renault the name Renault lived on. In January Charles de Gaulle decided to nationalize Renault and the company's name was changed to Regié Nationale des Usines Renault. And the new director for the company became Pierre Lefaucheux. This year 21000 people worked at Renault and they produced about 12.000 vehicles but only half a dozen were cars.

1946 Production of private cars started again. The Régie produced 8500 cars  most of them were Juvaquatres in  both saloon and estate versions. They were equipped with hydraulic brakes and hydraulic shock absorbers. The Juva saloon was on the market until 1949 and the estate version was available right up to 1959.

1947 The long awaited 4 CV was launched The very first mass-produced 4CV rolled off the assembly lines on August 12

1948 By now 40.000 people worked at Renault. It took one month for 5 workers to build a 4CV.

1951 4CV won the it class at the  Le Mans race 

1952 July 24. the first prototype of project 109 was built. Project 109 became the Dauphine

1954 the champagne bottles were opened at Regie's: 1 million vehicles were built after nationalization and 2 million since the foundation of the company 1898.

1956 Renaults association with hi performance sub marques start when Gordini is given an assignment to build a souped-up version of Dauphine.

The same year a former Renault dealer Jean Rédélé starts a company called R.D.L in Dieppe and the very first Alpine is born. It was based on the 4CV with a  glass-fiber body was designed by Michelotti.

1957 the Dauphine Gordini was launched at the Paris Motor show.

1959 102.000 Dauphines and 15.000 4CVs were sold in the US. 41.000 in Germany and 19.000 in Italy. At the end of this year Renault was the 6th largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

1960 The classic Alpine A110 "Tour de France Berlinette" was launched 

1961 July 6. the last 4CV was build (nr:1.105.543) After 16 years the 4CV was dead, replaced by the R4. The R4 was world's first car with hermetically sealed cooling-system. The very first R4 was built August 3. In Total 8.126.200 of them were built.

1962 June 22. R8 was launched. It was the first-ever mass produced car with disc brakes all round. R8 made its entry to the US market suspended from a helicopter flying over the Statue of Liberty.

1964 the first R8 Gordini was launched. R8 Gordini was a French racing blue souped-up version of R8 Major.

1965 The R16 is launched, the R16 become the first Renault-model to gain the title "The car of the year".

1966 Renault built an assembly plant in Bulgaria where  R8s  called Bulgarenaults, were assembled.

1967 Renaults were by now assembled on every continent: there were 5 assembly plants in Europe, excluding France, one in Canada, , nine in Latin America, five in Africa, one in Australia, one in Asia.

1971 The R15/17 is launched in October. The first Alpine A310 is also launched.

1972 The R5 is  launched: the R5 was was born by accident when Boué , one of the designers at Renault found a picture of the R4. He started to draw on it and came up with the 5's shape. He showed the drawing to his colleagues , who recognized the potential. In two days a full size model of the drawing was made, and from there it went straight into production, almost as drawn. 

1974 the first V6 engine was launched since 1939; the 2,6 l V6 was build together with Volvo and Peugeot. It was the first French V6-engine with alloy cylinder blocks. 

1976 R18 was improvised in 18 months, it was launched in March. R18 was a car which was designed to please everybody everywhere, and it launched with the theme "Meeting International Requirements" and indeed it became Renaults biggest success after the R5. 

The R5 Alpine was also launched this year in Britain it was known as a 5 Gordini, As Sunbeam/Talbot held the rights to the Alpine name.

1980 Renault Fuego, the successor to R15/17 was launched. Its immediate success exceeded all expectations.
After the Fuego came the R5Turbo. Its engine derived from 1397cc Alpine unit, was mid-mounted and developed up to 250 bhp. Surely the ultimate Renualt 5 and the ultimate hot hatch

1981 Project 142 was launched: as the R9. It was Regié's first attempt to create a "not-quite-so-French" car. R9 gained the title "The car of the Year". 

1983 the coupe version of R9, the R11 was launched and became an immediate success. This is the first time when 4 Renault models top the sales figures in France:R5, R9, R11 and R18.

1984 Renault have the vision to recognise a brave new design, and employ the Matra car plant to build  the Renault Espace "the spacecar" is launched and becomes a trendsetter. 

1990 Launch of the Clio

1991 Supercinq's successor Renault Clio becomes "The car of the Year", Renault Ligne AE was "The Truck of the Year", Renault FR1 was "The Bus of the Year" 

1992 The Renault Twingo is launched. followed by the Renault Safrane

1994 Renault Laguna was launched, it replaced the R21

1995 The "oval" car: Renault Mégane was launched.

1996 Renault Scenic was launched

1998 Renault celebrate their centenary. New Clio 2 is launched. 

At Geneva show the three seater Zo is launched, it is powered by Europe's first direct injection petrol engine. 

1999 Joined forces with Nissan and also took over 51% of Dacia.