The Carchive: 1978 Renault Lineup

20140627_131218 Welcome to this week’s second instalment of musty paper offerings from the deepest, darkest reaches of motoring history’s forgotten cavern. Since seeing what Ford were up to in 1967 on Tuesday, let’s head a little way forwards in time to 1978, from whence we’ll board an Air France Concorde and head over to see what was going on with Renault in that year. This brochure, at 126 pages crammed to bursting with information, is undoubtedly one of the more comprehensive among those in The Carchive. Indeed, to document the entire publication would definitely end up as TL; DR. So, instead, we’ll touch on those models which sit at the less familiar end of the Renault Spectrum. 20140627_131235 “…The 7CWT Van is tough, versatile and has a tremendous capacity for voluminous or awkwardly shaped loads” The Renault 4, alongside the Citroen 2CV, were so pivotal to the mobilization of France’s common folk that they have slipped almost into folklore. The image of a farmer tootling around in a beaten up old Quatre is as stereotypical as strings of onions and berets. It was beloved for good reason, though- it was practical in the extreme. The Van version was even more adept at carrying the long, thin loaves of bread and buckets of frogs and snails that were simply too much to be handled by a bicycle, and the additional top-hinged panel over the rear doors meant that baguettes of unprecedented length could be accommodated. “Power” came from an 845cc in-line 4 rattling out 34hp and persuading the 4 to a 68mph top speed. I remember seeing these in reasonable abundance as leftfield urban delivery machines, but that was a long time ago. 20140627_131307 “This is a family car for all the family, even though each member may want quite a different kind of car to the other” Along similar mechanical lines, and sitting on the same wheelbase, there came the Renault 6, in some ways you could say that 6 was to 4 as Dyanne was to 2CV. Considerably up-engined, though, with 1108cc and 47hp, and capacity for a creditable 84mph top end. The 4 was styled as a mini version of the 16, and few made it into preservation. One example I remember seeing was fodder to a Monster Truck demonstration when I was about 12. I remember never having seen one before then, and I’ve seldom seen one since. 20140627_131343 “High performance needn’t come the hard way.” Just as you could say that the 6 was a gentrified version of the 4, you could say similar things of the 15 and 17 ranges, which sat atop the same mechanical package as the long-lived Renault 12 (which survived with Dacia badges until 2004 or 2006 as a pickup-truck). This was a convincing transformation, though, with crisp styling and a modern, classy interior. The range-topping 17TS was fairly nippy, too; its 1647cc powerplant provided 98hp for a 105mph top whack. Production drew to a close in 1979, these days both the 15 and 17 have become as rare as blue steak. 20140627_131357 “For motorists who demand the ultimate in luxury high-speed cruising, but to whom petrol consumption is critical, the Renault 16 TX is the answer” This was possibly my favourite Renault of the ’70s. Such a clever car, with a set of seats which could fold down into a spine-contorting double bed and such niceties as electric windows and central locking, and usable performance thanks to that 1647 cc, 90hp straight-four. Top speed was 106mph I think I like it most for its styling. No car quite looked like the 16, which sat somewhere between hatchback and station wagon. The front grille and headlamps were the neatest part. These are rare cars, thanks to rust, mainly, but survivors have a fiercely loyal following. 20140627_131411 “This executive saloon is big, powerful and very modern” This was the ultimate Renault flagship until 1979, when the fuel injected TX version knocked-it off it’s perch. The 20 and its V6 powered sister, the 30 were based on styling themes already established by the 16 and the 6, but with an elongated, more elegant look, which I think has aged quite well. That V6, of course, was the Douvrin lump, the PRV which found its way under the bonnet of so many great, and not so great, cars over the years. In 30TS form its 2664cc provided 125bhp, and 112mph was your realistic expectation. Another realistic expectation, sadly, was rust. Rust happenned to these quite a lot, and I’ll wager that metal cancer condemned many of these to the crusher’s jaws well before any significant mechanical shortcoming did. In the ’80s, in a numerically puzzling move, the 30 was succeeded by the 25. It was a fine car and far more in tune with the demands of the decade, but it’s “Renaultness” was somewhat diluted when compared to the 30. My favourite of the bunch? For its eccentricity I’d have to plump for the 16TX. Of course, it’s hugely unlikely that I’ll ever own one, but At Least I Have The Brochure. (Disclaimer: All images are of original manufacturer publicity material photographed by me, presented upon a background of rich Rover velour. Copyright remains property of Renault)

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