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Электронная книга171 страница1 час


Автор Sloniger

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“ … There you have the basic Renaults and a few of their infinite variations. This book is just a start on the fun and frosting available for the Renault 750, Renault Caravelle and Renault Dauphine. Your experiences and your list can carry on from here, using this book as its name implies: a Guide to the automobiles that come from France’s largest industry.
I can only perform the introduction :
Ladies and Gentlemen—The Renault …” (1960 – Sloniger)
ИздательEdizioni Savine
Дата выпуска8 окт. 2014 г.
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    RENAULT - Guide - Sloniger


    1. Renaults: Past and Present

    The automobile is such an accepted part of our mid-century lives that we often forget how recently this four-wheeled necessity entered the picture. A mammoth factory like Renault, turning out thousands of cars every day, seems more like a simple fact of nature than the child of visionary tinkerers only a shade over six decades back.

    Renault is one of the oldest names in the motorcar field, yet this French giant is barely past its 60th birthday. To us the name brings forth a picture of compact sedans—and occasionally specials—pouring out of some remote disembodied corporation across the Atlantic. We seldom connect the word Renault with individuals—with those inspired driver-mechanics in the last months of the 19th century.

    The name first gained automotive luster through the efforts of two brothers, Louis and Marcel Renault. In the earliest years the cars were solely and indisputably their private babies. Like all of the early makes, the first Renaults were individual automobiles, each carrying the latest ideas or theories of men who loved to race and built them solely for that purpose.

    At the beginning, in 1898, the Renault brothers, like most of their contemporaries, simply wanted to see how fast they could make one of these radical inventions go and still hold it together. This product of their ingenuity received their name. And there were no test drivers ; the brothers took the primitive steering wheels in their own hands to prove their theories. It was the only method known in those days.

    The name originally survived and prospered in direct ratio to the brothers’ early competition success. Thus it is hardly surprising to find that today’s modem, impersonal firm is still boasting of rally successes, and still maintains a competition department. The tradition of progress through sport is one of the firmest cornerstones of Renault, no matter how far removed the present huge nationalized combine is from the hand-built specials of Marcel and Louis.

    Victories came early for Renault. In 1899 two of the brothers’ early models finished first and second in the Paris-Trouville race, posting the blistering average of 28 mph. In those days almost all racing was of the city-to-city variety. The new machinery had to face pot holes, dust, dogs and irate citizenry, in addition to mechanical failures at every bend. They were groping towards a car, and every shop had its own version of the automobile.

    Renault apparently had the right parts, put together in the proper manner, because they continued to win. The brothers were interested from the first in performance related to capacity, not cubic centimeters alone. This was relative of course. In an era when 15 or 18 liters were considered normal for real racers, 8 or 10 were small.

    One of the earliest class wins for the Renaults was a first place in the 1901 Paris-Bordeaux run, where they averaged 53 mph. Then came the famous Paris-Vienna adventure, a mountain test that would be considered tough even today. With the cars they had in 1902, it was amazing that enough finished to even make up a class.

    In the division for smaller cars, the winner was Marcel Renault, driving a 16 hp of his own design. Even more amazing, he finished the event with the shortest elapsed time, regardless of cylinder capacity, beating cars with three times his power. The average, after days of back roads, impossible climbs and forded streams was a commendable 39.2 mph.

    In 1903 the Renault brothers were again on hand for the major international events, but this was to be the last—and most tragic—year for open road racing. It was the year of the Paris-Madrid run, which ended the reign of racing on public highways.

    The run was halted by government decree in Bordeaux, at the end of the first day’s drive. Louis Renault was among the leaders, upholding French honors by being the first car into the Bordeaux control. But his glory was made empty and meaningless by the death of his brother, Marcel—one of several who left the road at high speed—giving his life in the proving of Renault automobiles.

    Racing moved onto the close circuits after that and Renault moved with it. The character of the race remained very much the same, with the cars covering a policed course that was made up of normal roads, closed for the occasion. This was the era of the Gordon Bennett races, sponsored by the American publisher. It was still road racing.

    Renault’s greatest victory of the era came in the French Grand Prix, on 26-27 June, 1906, in a race that was actually a continuation of the Bennett events. The cars were controlled by the same formulas and were practically the same models, although Gordon Bennett himself had withdrawn.

    Renault’s Shooting Star: the turbine car which turned 191.5 mph on the Salt Flats for a turbine record.

    The 1906 Grand Prix was run on a 65-mile circuit at Le Mans with the teams covering six laps a day on each of the two days and starting one minute apart. The Bennett formula of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) maximum weight was still the only restriction—engines were unlimited.

    For the Grand Prix they made one extra concession. Seven additional kilograms were allowed for a magneto or engine-driven dynamo for ignition. The only other major change was a rule that allowed only the driver and his riding mechanic to work on their car during the race; and that included fueling, tire changes and all the rest.

    Thirty-two cars started on the 26th and three of them were Renaults. Eleven finished, led by a Renault driven by the Hungarian, Szisz. He took the lead on the third lap of the opening day and never relinquished it, finishing 32 minutes ahead of a Fiat, at an average speed of 63 mph. The Renault was clocked at 92 mph for the flying kilometer, the fastest car in the race.

    The Renaults in this classic event featured such revolutionary items as detachable wheel rims, shaft drive instead of chains and high tension ignition. They had gone to live axles three years before, though some of the 1906 entries from other builders still used the cart type.

    Renault continued to race, usually placing among the leaders and winning their share, until they gradually withdrew from the all-out sport as it became more and more the province of race cars. They were going the way of passenger machinery. And this is the realm that interests us today—particularly the post-war developments. These first appeared in America as far back as 1947.

    It is a nationalized combine and France’s number one industry that stands behind the cars bearing the Renault name today. This is the practical off-spring of racing; this super-modern factory complex that turns out 1,000 Dauphines and 500 of the 750 models daily, in addition to large Fregate sedans and trucks.

    The modern Renault factory has some of the most complicated and advanced production machinery in Europe. Their assembly lines and automation leads the field. The firm makes everything from bodies to brake drums under one roof, although there is an increasing tendency to sub-contract some assemblies as the expansion program continues.

    A few figures tell the tale. One Renault Dauphine has over 4,000 spot welds, most of them made automatically in jigs that dot 100 welds at a crack. These monster automatons are completely controlled by electric eyes. In the motor halls blocks are drilled, flipped over and drilled again—and again—completely automatically.

    Whole corps of engineers devote themselves to extending this automation even further, while other squads oversee engine tests run on every motor that comes off the line. In addition to this universal check, random engines are side-tracked for exhaustive control testing. In the same manner every car rolls off the assembly line to be drum tested and then driven on their private track.

    The factory maintaines its test track for these runs, of course, although high speed research is done on the banks at Montlhéry, outside Paris. This is the modern Renault equivilant of the personal tests which the two brothers ran 60 years ago. It is the background to the basic models that reach the United States.

    Aerial view of the main Renault plant at Billancourt, along the Seine. The island houses a part of the assembly line, too.

    The Models

    In American terms, there are five Renault to choose from, or at least five versions, although certain components overlap. First comes the 750, also called the 4 CV in reference to its taxable horsepower in France. The 750, or course, refers to the cylinder capacity in cubic centimeters.

    Next in line is the 850cc Dauphine, the car that really put Renault on the American automobile map. This body is also available as the Dauphine Gordini, a factory special with hotter motor developed by Gordini, one of France’s leading race car constructors and tuners. As of 1960 the Gordini will carry the Caravelle motor instead, incidentally, but more on that later.

    The Caravelle itself is the latest Renault passenger type. This two-seater with Italian lines uses a factory-developed version of the Dauphine motor, with more push. Last in line and newest is the small, front-wheel drive van, called the Estafette. This will arrive on the American

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