Renault R16-- the original hatchback...

csandstecsandste Member Posts: 1,866
edited March 2014 in Renault
four on the tree, comfortable seating, typical French quirkiness.

I think they used to advertise these as "sedan-wagons" and ran adds titled "road love".

I bought mine in Atlanta in 1972 just as the entire dealer network came crashing down. Traded a 1969 Fiat 124 for it. You can see I was a real glutton for punishment.

Mine overheated and almost caught on fire in Valdosta Georgia. Pulled into a Chevy dealer and found out it was a Peugeot dealership as well. Little French guy inside who could fix it, but took a couple of days to send parts from Atlanta by bus.

I also think it had two different wheelbases because of torsion bars which ran across the rear axles, i.e. the drivers side wheelbase was different than the passenger side.


  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    Wow-two cars I really admired back then. One of my best friends in high school got to use his dad's '71 Fiat 124-I couldn't get over the great ride and all the room it had compared to Pintos and the like.I liked the basically square but also canted forward styling. Another friend got a '74 Renault 14 for graduation-not as good as the 16,but still nice.

    I LOVE those 16s!
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    That the Le Car also had two different wheelbases on the two sides. Would that make the handling squirelly? And were the R14s and R16s FWD?

    And why did the entire Renault dealer network come crashing down in the early '70s? I also remember a friend of my dad's telling us a story about how he was in the process of buying a car back in '73. It was between a Renault R16, Fiat 128, or Volvo 1800ES. He ended up choosing the Volvo.
  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    I still recall Road&Track,in the original 1976 road test of the then Renault5,calling this arrangement a simple,elegant way to have a sway bar(?) in such a cheap car. Or some part of suspension,anyway.
    I drove one back then,and I recall it having an unbelievably smooth ride for its tiny size. Really,it was remarkable. A friend of mine once saw one overturn autocrossing,but if driven in a less frantic style,it was an excellent driver. And with the large canvas sunroof-Vive La France!
    The R14 and R16 were,like the R5,front wheel drive.
  • csandstecsandste Member Posts: 1,866
    and a Fiat 600. Two Renaults, two Fiats. Glutton for punishment. Compared to the typical American and Japanese stuff of the same era they were interesting, however. And who said the Datsun Honeybee was a paragon of reliability?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    What do you mean by "paragon of reliability" when referring to the Honeybee?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I had an R16 and also liked it. Got it out of a junkyard because the torsion bars were broken (easy fix). One thing I remembered about it was that you could take out the rear seat and hang it from the roof of the car inside!

    Actually, I don't think this car was the first real hatchback, as that should go to the MGB-GT of 1967 I believe. But it might have been the first hatchback wagon, or 5-door sedan.
  • csandstecsandste Member Posts: 1,866

    My Hyundai Elantra has been rock solid for 16000 miles and both Renaults gave me their share of grief. However the Hyundai is almost more French feeling than Japanese, being a bit loosly sprung but with great seats. Doesn't have all the French quirkiness, however-- suspended seats, uneven wheelbase, four on the tree.
  • edarteedarte Member Posts: 41
    My father had a Renault dealership in Canada (late 60's early 70's) and he had an R16 that the owner had rolled. My dad had the body bashed back into shape and gave it to me. The styling was a bit too boxy and the (low cost) autobody work did not improve the appearance. But it was one great car. Everyone who sat in it at first found the seats hard but quickly admitted that they were the best they ever sat in.

    Yes, there were all kinds of configurations you could put the seats in, including flipping the back up. (This was great from Drive-in movies. You could hide two people in the trunk to get in then open the rear doors ever so slightly to clear the arm rests, flip up the back seat and roll into the car from the trunk !)

    The car was a dream to drive. I had the TS model which was the sport version. Don't recall the HP but it was fast! Drove it across Canada twice and, for that time, felt almost as comfortable as my LS430 does today.

    Before that I had an R5 that I got the same way - rolled. (Not sure what this says about Renault's handling back then or perhaps the poor drivers that owned them). Another quirky but great car.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    As I recall through reading and research, you could choose from these Renault models in the early 1970s: R10, R12, R15, R16, and R17.

    Now none of these are considered collectible today, and their survival rate is very low, correct?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Practically non-existant.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Next you're going to tell me that the factory literature I still have from an SF car show is virtually worthless.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482 might get a few bucks for it on Ebay. Somewhere, out there, in the dark void of limitless space, in an ice cave on some distant asteroid, a Renault enthusiast awaits!
  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    that would be me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    You see? We found one already. Now where's the other one?

    I have a Renault tie pin and a pair of Dauphine cuff links! (seriously).
  • merckxmerckx Member Posts: 565
    I imagine the entire Road&Track staff got them from Renault about 1960,'cause they sure fell over themselves praising the Dauphine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Actually the Dauphine at the time had all the appearances of a great car. It was faster than a VW, quieter, nicer looking, got way better fuel mileage, and was really fun to drive.

    What it wasn't, turns out, was reliable or easily serviceable, and those two things were enough for VW to prevail. Nobody knew that at the time, so for 6 months or so Renault kicked butt in the foreign car market.

    Then the reports started coming in.......
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    How could a Dauphine survive on our highways when it only had a tiny 40-hp engine?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    And even '80s Alliances were not good for long freeway driving.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Exactly. This is why old VWs blow up all the time, too. Way too stressed out for American roads.

    But they made great city cars.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Recently I saw a '50s British newsreel about the opening of the M-1, their first freeway. The narrator was saying that drivers couldn't wait to let out their cars on the freeway "but not every car was up to it" and there's a shot of two English Fords on the side of the road with their tongues hanging out--the same cars Ford sent to the US. Who'd have guessed they wouldn't do well here?
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    Those early 'economy cars' weren't generally up to the task of 70 mph freeways. The low price and good gas mileage were tempting, but came at a much higher price than today's economy cars (versus 'regular' or 'big' cars). The differences aren't nearly as pronounced now (thankfully!!). You can now buy even a ten year old economy car and reasonably expect it to do OK on the highway (with the exception of Hyundai Excels with automatics!).
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