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c.1901 Renault 4½hp Rear-Entrance Tonneau For Sale by Auction

Bonhams are delighted to present our London to Brighton Run Sale of Veteran Motor Cars on 1st November 19 at our Bond Street saleroom. Specialising in Modern, Popular and Historic collectors motor car auctions the full online catalogue can be viewed on our website, link in the title.

c.1901 Renault 4½hp Rear-Entrance Tonneau
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. 22
Engine no. 4813

*In the original ownership from 1901 to 1999
*Eligible for many club events
*Rare veteran of a surviving marque name
*Charming patina of age

£85,000 - 95,000
€97,000 - 110,000

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 was followed by an updated model with enlarged 4½ horsepower De Dion power, Type D which it is believed that this car is an example of. Although not dated by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, it is by its specification of a design which was not made by Renault any later than 1902. According to the seller it carries a remarkably simple history, being owned by the same family from 1901 for almost the entire 20th century until passing to the last owner 20 years ago. Not run in recent years, the sensible precaution of recommissioning is recommended. Along its career it received a very sympathetic cosmetic refurbishment, work which has now aged gently and creates a charming patina of a most appropriate nature for a car of its age. The paintwork has been finished in 'faux bois' wood grain effect, while the interior of mottled patterned cloth is undeterminable as to whether this is period or later, but regardless gives an appealing appearance.

A Renault is one of the very few brand names to survive to the modern day, securing their continued attraction and relevance. They are eligible for events such as the London to Brighton, and those run by the Renault Frères Club, an early car such as this carries the added benefit of its De Dion Bouton engine thereby enabling it to be part of the De Dion Bouton Club UK also.
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