1900 Renault Type C 3.5hp Rear-Entrance Tonneau

1900 Renault Type C 3.5hp Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Louis Renault was a pioneer in automobile design in the infant French motor industry, building his first car as early as 1898, mounting a De Dion Bouton engine on the front of a primitive tubular chassis frame. Ever the innovator, he broke from traditional design by featuring a sprung live rear axle, a feature soon to be copied by his contemporaries. With the benefit of substantial financial backing, production began at Billancourt of 1¾hp and 3hp cars, with the hugely successful Type C 3½hp cars of 1900 followed by the 4½hp models which appeared soon after. From the outset Renault saw the benefits to be gained from involvement in motor sport and, along with his brother Marcel, he took an active part in this new sporting activity. Although the headlines were stolen by larger cars, Renault, with their voiturettes, were highly regarded, achieving class successes in continental events and in the great French City-to-City races.

In the 1901 Paris-Bordeaux Race, Louis Renault led a victorious team of four Renaults, taking first place himself in the voiturette class and completing the epic journey in just 9 hours and 31 minutes, with brother Marcel in second place just eight minutes behind, with Oury and Grus on similar Type E cars following in third and fourth places. In 1902 Renault were to achieve their ultimate success, Marcel Renault stealing outright victory in the Paris-Vienna Race at the wheel of a 16hp model, covering the distance at an average speed of 39.2mph. These racing victories kept Renault at the forefront of the public mind and resulted in sales orders and production figures which were the envy of their competitors.

The commercially successful Type C of 1900 was powered by a 3½hp De Dion Bouton engine, conventionally vertically and forward mounted, with atmospheric inlet valve and mechanical exhaust valve. Cooling was via side-mounted radiators, a traditional early Renault feature prior to the introduction of the more familiar coal scuttle bonnet/radiator arrangement. It drove through a three speed gearbox to the sprung live rear axle. In the French market it earned its place alongside products from the other major French ascendant motor manufacturers including De Dion Bouton, Peugeot and Darracq.

This car was found in 2005 in dismantled and unrestored condition and was acquired for a private collection in Holland, where it was restored over a two year period. Upon stripping every component, the mechanical condition of the car and nickel fittings as found proved to be very good, suggesting it had covered few miles and had been handled with care by previous owners. All mechanical components were restored as necessary to restore the car to good running order. Although the original bonnet survived it was necessary to build a new body, this being carefully copied from an original car running in the UK and with help from the French car museum in Compiegne.

Following that restoration the car took part in the 2009 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, leaving Hyde Park at 7.06am and arriving on Madeira Drive at 1.30pm – a respectable performance indeed.

Descriptions & pictures by conceptcarz & bonhams

Production Start 1900
Country of origin France