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Little Classics News: 2 June 2015

Renault Celebrates 50 Years of the Classic 16

Reanault 16

The history of Renault’s family cars started 50 years ago in France during the post-war boom. In early 1965, the brand unveiled a new vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show: the Renault 16. This new hatchback featured an original body shape founded on a two-box design complete with a tailgate for access to the boot. It was an ideal family car.

Renault 16 in country lanes

The project to design a successor to the Frégate was an ambitious one, especially as Pierre Dreyfus – Renault’s CEO from 1955 to 1975 – wanted it to stand out from its rivals. “We have to take a different approach,” he proclaimed. “Cars can’t just be four seats and a boot any longer. They must be viewed as a volume.”

Renault 16 interior

The Renault 16 was a cross between a saloon and a van, a design that made it exceptionally versatile for the era. The boot could be arranged in four different ways, with a carrying capacity ranging from 346dm3 to 1,200dm3 thanks to a sliding, folding and removable rear bench.

Renault 16 rear

The Renault 16 also marked its time thanks to its modern, avant-garde equipment specification. Front-wheel drive was still unusual in its class at the time, while the front-central engine ensured good road manners. The engine, like the gearbox and cylinder head, were made of aluminium and produced using a pressure-die casting process.

Classic Renault 16

From 1968, with the introduction of a TS version (‘Tourisme Sportif’), a range of innovative new features became standard, including a defrosting rear window, additional iodine headlights, two-speed windscreen wipers with four-jet washers and an interior rear-view mirror with day/night settings.

In 1969, the Renault 16 gained reversing lights, along with front power windows, an electric sunroof and leather upholstery.

Car of the Year 1966

Classic Renault 16

Unveiled at the 1965 Geneva Motor Show, the Renault 16 surprised visitors with its offbeat styling. However, it quickly won the public over by meeting its demand for simplicity. The gamble was acclaimed by the industry, too: in 1966, the model was named Car of the Year.

The range-topping Renault 16 TX

Renault 16

From 1973 until the end of the model’s career in 1980, the Renault 16 was available with a 93hp 1,647cc engine for the TX version. Top speed round a circuit was 109mph (175kph), while equipment included central locking and inertia reel seatbelts, innovative features that contributed to improving the quality of Renault 16 owners’ everyday lives.

In the course of the Renault 16’s career, 1,851,502 units were made, chiefly at Renault’s purpose-built Sandouville plant in Normandy.


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