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Renault celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Renault 16 at salon Retromobile 2015

February 03, 2015
  • Renault will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Renault 16 at the 40th edition of Salon Rétromobile, which will take place from February 4-8 at Porte de Versailles in the French capital, Paris.
  • Two pre-war Renault models and two concept cars will join seven Renault 16s in illustrating the marque’s expertise in the realm of family cars.

Visitors to the 2015 Salon Rétromobile will be able to admire the following cars on Renault Classic’s 700-square metre stand in Hall 1 (Stand 1G64):


- Seven Renault 16s, including a US version and a 1963 prototype
- Two pre-war family cars: a Type G from 1902 and a Type NN from 1925
- Two concept cars: the Scénic (1991) and R-Space (2011), two recent propositions in the domain of family cars
- Three Alpines, from the very first Alpine to the latest offering, via the iconic Berlinette (a rare ‘Interlagos’ version).

In a new twist this year, two Renault 16s will be offered for test-drives in front of Hall 1. For further information or to sign up, visit the Renault Classic stand.
 

THE CARS ON DISPLAY ON THE RENAULT STAND:

Renault 16 Coupé Cabriolet (uncompleted project)


This story began in 1958 when the Frégate was given a facelift. Then Renault President Pierre Dreyfus launched a new project based upon a status-enhancing car equipped with a six-cylinder engine – the 114 initiative that he halted at the beginning of 1961: “For the overall good of Renault, we need to adopt a different approach – in several areas,” he declared.
The goal, therefore, was to design a high-end mid-sized car that would set itself completely apart from the opposition: a family car adapted to every aspect of modern life, boasting the functionality and versatility of an estate while delivering the comfort and elegance of a saloon car.
A coupé cabriolet was also evaluated, but with the majority of this version’s body parts being different to those of the saloon, production costs would have been too high to pursue the project.
 
Renault 16 Super (1970): The Renault 16 was selected as ‘European Car of the Year’ ahead of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow!

 
The Renault 16 stood out for its extraordinary cabin space. Intended as a voiture à vivre (a car adapted to every aspect of life) – in the same mould as the Renault 4 – the Renault 16 went even further than merely offering a tailgate and folding rear bench seat. The interior space was organised around a boot area that could be reconfigured according to different types of use, endowing the Renault 16 with the comfort of a limousine and a level of versatility that – discounting van versions – no rival model could match.
In scoring 98 points, the Renault 16 saw off the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (81 points) to be crowned ‘European Car of the Year’ – something of a culture shock in the automotive world!

Renault 16 TA: Automatic!

 


Four years after the launch of the Renault 16, the TA version – fitted with an automatic gearbox – was unveiled at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show. This was no ordinary gearbox… The first of its kind to be designed in France, it incorporated an electronic control device that made it smoother, faster and more efficient to use while at the same time maintaining sensible fuel consumption. A calculator determined the most appropriate of the three available gears after analysing the speed of the vehicle, the revs and the pressure applied to the accelerator pedal.


Renault 16 TL, US Version (1972): Out to conquer the world


The Renault 16 – a car that some journalists had described as “typically French in the best sense of the word” – went on to enjoy considerable success on the international stage, which accounted for nearly 50 per cent of its total sales.

Although the majority of sales of the Renault 16 were logically within Europe, the model proved to be a significant hit across the globe, too. The car was sold as far afield as South Africa, Australia, the USA and Canada. Indeed, the Renault 16 was sold in the USA from 1968 to 1972 under the well-marketed tag of a Sedan-Wagon which highlighted its unique characteristic as a cross between a saloon (sedan) and estate (station wagon).

Renault 16 TS Automatic (1974): Astonishing modularity!


Intended to be a voiture à vivre in the same mould as the Renault 4, the Renault 16 benefitted from interior space organised around a boot area that could be reconfigured according to different types of use, endowing the vehicle with a degree of modularity and versatility that no competitor model could match.
The Renault 16 offered no fewer than six seating arrangements that responded to the requirements of different ways of life – from holiday needs to a weekend away in the country or for carrying jumble back from a car boot sale.

Renault 16 TX (1975): A sporty family vehicle


Top of the Renault 16 range was the TX version presented in 1973. It applied the same recipe as the TS to a European road network becoming increasingly populated by motorways and a looming oil crisis: the 16 TX seamlessly blended performance, durability and equipment.
The TX version benefitted from a new 1,647cc engine developing 93hp DIN. Beyond the palpable performance (top speed: 175kph), the most significant new addition was the adoption of a five-speed gearbox that reduced revs on the motorway and, consequently, fuel consumption. This version was similarly distinguished by its premium equipment level.

Renault 16 TL: Air Force driving school vehicle (1980)


Another voiture à vivre, the Renault 16 was targeted above all at baby boom families, to whom it offered an innovative concept that met their needs and aspirations. That said, its inherent attributes also made the model popular amongst other types of clientele. Many French government departments opted to use the Renault 16 as an official car in a plain black colour scheme, while the military similarly adopted it as a long-distance liaison vehicle (the example on show has the distinction of being a driving school version equipped with dual controls).

Renault Type G (1902): A family car offering four proper seats and a 200km range


Louis Renault was on the verge of designing his own engines when the Type G appeared. Although still running with a single-cylinder De Dion powerplant, the car’s design was more accommodating than previous models, offering four comfortable seats and, underneath the front passenger seat, a fuel tank that allowed for a range of 200km. The brakes received particular attention, with the rear drums operated by a lever in addition to a pedal that activated a transmission-mounted system.
An “attractive and solid car that lives up to the reputation that the Renault brothers have established in the automotive sector”, remarked the press at the time.

Renault Type NN1 (1925): The first mass-produced car to be affordable for families

 
In 1922, the Type KJ marked Renault’s first footsteps in the world of small 6CV engines. Two years later, it was replaced by the NN, which inherited the same qualities of frugality and strength. A popular entry-level model, the NN represented the development of Renault’s mass production efforts: between its launch and 1929, almost 120,000 units were manufactured!

Renault Scénic concept car (1991): In-car comfort, relevant technologies, safety and responsible performance


Unveiled in 1991 at the Frankfurt Motor show, the Scénic concept car’s name was an acronym of Safety Concept Embodied in a New Innovative Car.
Designed to appeal to a family clientele attracted by the idea of travelling in a ‘cocoon’, the Scénic concept car majored in spaciousness, modularity and safety: this compact MPV concept was capable of comfortably accommodating a family, courtesy of a new way of managing its shape and interior space. The sliding doors offered easy access to the vehicle, while seat belts specially adapted for children and a drowsiness detection device ensured that safety was a leading priority.
This study prefigured the introduction of the Renault Scénic, the first compact MPV to hit the market (in 1996), going on to be selected as ‘European Car of the Year’ in 1997.

Renault R-SPACE concept car (2011): Space for everybody


During the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Renault took the wraps off its R-SPACE concept car, which illustrated the ‘Family’ element of the Design strategy based on the cycle of life.
The brief given to the car’s designers was to imagine a simple, sensuous and welcoming family vehicle, which would set the tone for Renault’s upcoming offering in the realm of MPVs. The result was a compact MPV, measuring just 4.25 metres in length, with a strong, flowing and sporty silhouette.
The tapered profile of the side windows emphasised the dynamic profile, while its large windscreen and panoramic roof transformed the passenger compartment into a cosy cocoon of shade.
The original pioneer of the MPV, Renault’s proposal with the R-Space was to push back the boundaries even further in this domain. In order to do so, its designers set out from the starting point of what had made the MPV so successful in the past: the intelligence of the concept. The modern re-interpretation of this idea was “to generate a visual and extremely functional contrast between the driver’s environment – whose design inspired driving enjoyment – and a totally fresh and unexpected rear passenger compartment, fashioned in the form of a children’s play area”.

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Dominique-William JACSON
Press Officer (LCV, Heritage)

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