1904 Renault 9hp Type T Rear-entrance Tonneau

1904 Renault 9hp Type T Rear-entrance Tonneau

Founded in 1898 by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand, the company that would become France's biggest automobile manufacturer started humbly enough, with a solitary 1¾hp De Dion-engined prototype, the sprung rear axle of which would soon be copied by many contemporaries. At a time when automobile design had yet to crystallise, Renault's front-engined, rear-drive design presaged that of the modern car, while other advanced features included wire-spoked wheels shod with the newly invented Dunlop inflatable tyre. Few changes were found necessary before the Type A was ready for presentation to the public in 1899. Production at the Billancourt factory was soon under way on a large scale, demand for its products being enhanced by the performance of Renault cars in the great inter-city races so popular in France at the turn of the 19th Century.

The single-cylinder Renault was updated annually, the Type G of 1902 featuring an 864cc water-cooled De Dion motor rated at 6hp. Twin, side-mounted radiators had been adopted when water-cooling arrived in 1900 on the Type C and these were enlarged for the Type G, which was the first model to feature Renault's so-called 'coal scuttle' bonnet, a style widely copied by other manufacturers. The largest Renault model so far, the Type G was built on a longer and wider chassis, made from heavier gauge tubing, which now relied on semi-elliptic springing instead of the fully elliptical springs favoured hitherto. By this time a circular steering wheel on an inclined column had been standardised, replacing the semi-circular control and vertical column used since production began. Six alternative final drive ratios were available, giving the car a top speed of anywhere between 19 and 33mph approximately.

1902 is also particularly noteworthy as the year the company began making its own engines, one of which powered Marcel Renault to a remarkable victory in that year's Paris-Vienna Race, defeating the larger Panhard-Levassor opposition to achieve worldwide acclaim and recognition for Renault products.

From the outset Renault engineering was of the highest quality, as exemplified by this 9hp De Dion-engined Type T, which is typical of the first generation of Renault automobiles. A copy of the factory despatch sheet shows that this car was destined for 'Roadway', this being the Roadway Autocar Company of Fulham, West London - Rolls-Royce's neighbours - who were agents for Mors as well as Renault.

Chassis number '3107' was acquired in 1959 by Arthur Cook and remained in his family's ownership until 2012 when it was purchased by the current vendor. Reputedly, Mr Cook's daughter found the Renault while playing in a hay barn in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. The car was fitted with a Ford Model T front axle at that time. Its prior ownership history is not known.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams

Production Start 1904
Country of origin France