Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Renault

Renault


A chronological day-by-day history of Renault.

Sunday 21st September 1873

144 years ago

The birth of the first grand prix winner, Ferenc Szisz, in Szeghalom, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. An engineer, he moved to France in 1900 and acted as the riding mechanic for Louis Renault and subsequently took up driving. It was in 1906 he drove a Renault AK 90CV to victory in the first Grand Prix at Le Mans.

Ferenc Szisz

Ferenc Szisz

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Thursday 2nd April 1896

121 years ago

Armand Peugeot set up his own company, Société Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot. He built a factory at Audincourt, dedicated to the manufacture of cars with an internal combustion engine.By 1899 sales cars for Peugeot got up to 300, which is pretty decent considering that during that year only 1200 cars were sold in France. In 1903 Peugeot added motorcycles to his factory production. After a brief period out of racing, a Peugeot car managed to win the Indianapolis 500 with Jules Goux at the wheel in 1913. The success of the car was due to the introduction of the DOHC 4 valves per cylinder engine. As war dawned in Europe, Peugeot turned to making arms and military vehicles of course. The good thing about surviving the war was that cars were now becoming more of a necessity and less of a luxury which meant bigger sales for Peugeot. In 1929 the first 201 model was introduced, a way of numbering cars that would be trademarked by the French automaker. Having survived the depression, the company the tried in 1933 to woo buyers with a more aerodynamic look. The model that came out that year had a retractable hard top, an innovation that would be also picked up by Mercedes. During the Second World War, Peugeot fate took a turn for the worse as its factories were forced to build cars and weapons for the German war effort. By the end of the war, the plants were heavily bombed and in need of reparations. It would take the company until 1948 to resume car production with the 203 model. This was only the beginning as a new series of Italian-designed models by Pininfarina completed the line-up. The success of these cars determined Peugeot to start selling in the US too in 1958. By this time, Peugeot starting collaborating with other manufacturers such as Renault (1966) and Volvo (1972). In a bid to acquire a bigger share of the market, Peugeot bought 30% of Citroen in 1974, taking over completely in just two years which meant a change in the company's name, now the PSA (Peugeot Societe Anonyme). This partnership meant that the two brands could make use of each other's technical achievements but keep their independence design-wise. Further expansion of the PSA group saw the overtaking of the European division of Chrysler in 1978, an investment which proved faulty as most Chrysler facilities and machinery was old and worn out. These models were later sold under the Talbot brand. When sales began to go under, Peugeot decided to pull the plug on all models except the Arizona which became the 309 in 1986. During the 90s Peugeot got some of its old fame back after a series of miscalculations regarding the general direction of the company. The current model line-up is aiming towards a more luxurious market, with cost cuts no longer being made to sacrifice the overall look and feel of the car. Some wins in the racing world, including rallies and even Formula 1, have helped Peugeot with sales. Now Peugeot has developed several new model ranges, outside the classic 200, 300, 400 and 600 series. The 100 and 900 are the exact opposite, with the 100 eyeing the super compact range while 900 is not for the budget shoppers. The French automaker has even a hybrid vehicle in the make, a version of the 307.

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Saturday 24th December 1898

118 years ago

Louis Renault at the age of 20, made a brilliant entrance into the emerging world of the motor car. He converted his De Dion-Bouton tricycle into a small, four-wheeled vehicle and added another of his inventions that would soon propel the motor car into a new era: the "direct drive", the first gearbox. It instantly dethroned the transmission chains and cogs that had been used until then. Confident about his invention, Renault bet them on this day that his vehicle could climb the 13% slope of the Rue Lepic in Montmartre. Although they were incredulous at first, his friends were soon forced to believe their eyes. Not only did Louis win his bet - he also pocketed his first 12 firm orders, along with cash deposits. His career was under way. A few months later he filed the patent for the direct drive system that would make his fortune. It was soon adopted by all the manufacturers of the time. His company continued to grow as Renault began winning road races, including the Paris-Berlin, and the Paris-Vienna.

Louis Renault

Louis Renault

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Thursday 30th March 1899

118 years ago

The Renault corporation was founded as the Societe Renault Freres in Billancourt, France as a family firm by three Renault brothers Louis, Marcel and Fernand with a capital of 60,000 francs. From the very beginning, Louis managed to show innovation when he invented and later patented a direct drive system on his De Dion-Bouton tricycle which he already turned into a four-wheel vehicle. Louis also understood that it would be only through racing that he would make the Renault name known to the world so he entered his vehicles in city-to-city races where his brothers acted as drivers. A number of victories earned them the notoriety they were searching for. People watching the races made orders despite the fact the cars were expensive for the time. The company quickly developed and set up shop by the Seine. The model line-up now had several models, including the first saloon in 1902. That was also the year that Louis designed his first engine, a four-cylinder, which gave out 24 HP. In 1903, Marcel, one of the Renault brothers died in the Paris to Madrid race in a crash, a hard blow both for the company and for Louis who would now assign professional drivers to race for Renault. Instead, he focused on bringing Renault carts to more European markets and even over to the Americas.As the gap between the United States and Europe widened because of the war and the economic crash, Renault sought to improve production and to lower costs. After the economic crisis, he wanted to become more autonomous and started buying all sorts of businesses that provided him with the materials and parts needed to make cars. He also modernized the factory, emulating Ford and his plant, introducing assembly plants in 1922. During the economic crash of the 30s, all car manufacturers had to suffer and Renault was no exception. The company was forced to cut costs, reduce staff and become more efficient in production. That's why it started expanding into other areas, basically building anything with a motor attached to it. Busses, lorries, electric railcars, tractors and even airplane engines, all were now coming out of the Renault plant.With worker strikes plaguing all of the country, Renault was nationalized by the government in 1945 in order to keep it from going bankrupt like Citroen had done some years before. The first project made by the new company was the small 4CV, but it was postponed until after WWII. For the European market, small cars were the future because they were cheap to buy and maintain.The 4CV, introduced in 1946, proved to be a major success, much larger than initially expected. With the money the company made from sales, it bought and developed heavy machinery to help with production. Renault then turned again to the heavy goods sector and by merging two existent companies, Latil and Somua, they created a new company, completely dedicated to making trucks – Saviem. As the 4CV aged, a new model was ready to surface, the Dauphine, which appeared in 1956. It too enjoyed great success, even in the US. In fact, it was so successful over the ocean that Renault had to setup a special transport company, CAT, to accommodate the high demand. Next, the Renault 4 and the Renault 8 took over where the Dauphine left off in 1961.Renault started the 70s with another success, the sportier and more agile Renault 5, which owed its favorable welcome to its fuel efficiency during the oil crisis. But this didn't mean that the company was safe during these turbulent times. In a bid to retake the American market, Renault started assembling Rambler complete knock down kits and marketing them as Renault Ramblers.Also during the 70s, Renault began expanding its influence and opened up plants in Eastern Europe, Africa and even Australia. The partnership with the American AMC company came in 1979. At the beginning of the 80s, Renault found itself in financial trouble again and the chairman of the company at the time decided to pul the company out of racing altogether, as well as selling all non-essential assets and cutting costs left and right. The good news was that by 1987 the company began turning the balance in favor of profit, so that at the beginning of the 90s, a whole new line-up was released on the market and all models proved successful: the new Clio, the new Espace, Twingo and the Laguna. The 1995 Renault Megane was the first car ever to achieve a four-star rating at the Euro NCAP safety tests. Also during the 90s, Renault returned to Formula 1 racing and with success nonetheless, having won the Championship in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997. In 1996 it was decided that a state-owned status of the company would not benefit in the long run so it was privatized again. Renault made further investments in Brazil, Argentina and Turkey. After 2000, it launched a series of less successful vehicles like the Avantime and the Vel Satis, but also continued successfully with older series like the Clio, Laguna and Megane. Now the government owns 15,7% of the company, which has since bought Romanian car manufactures Dacia and the South Korean Samsung not to mention 20% of Volvo

Renault 4CV

Renault 4CV

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Thursday 26th June 1902

115 years ago

(26th- 28th) The 1902 Gordon Bennett Cup was run over a distance of 565 km from Paris to Innsbruck in conjunction with the Paris-Vienna motor car race. The race started in Paris on June 26. Competing were 30 heavy cars, 48 light cars, six voiturettes, three motorcycles, and three motorcyclettes. Each nation was allowed to nominate up to three cars to compete for the Gordon Bennett Cup, but only six entries were received, three French and three British. The Automobile Club of Great Britain announced that car No. 160 driven by Mr White, and car No. 45, made by Napier & Son of London with Dunlop tyres, driven by Mr Edge would represent the club. The Times announced on June 30th that Edge had won the Gordon Bennett Cup. It was announced in Vienna on July 1st that M. Marcel Renault had won the Paris-Vienna race, with M. Henri Farman second

Marcel Renault and René Vauthier - Paris-Vienne road race 1902

Marcel Renault and René Vauthier - Paris-Vienne road race 1902

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Sunday 29th June 1902

115 years ago

Marcel Renault won the four-day Paris-to-Vienna race, driving a car of his own design. The early city-to-city races were the largest sporting events of that era. Some three million people turned out to cheer Renault on to victory during the 15-hour, 615-mile race. These races were discontinued in large part due to Renault's fatal accident the following year at the Paris-Madrid race. The French government halted the race in Bordeaux following the tragic accident. Millions of people lined the raceways during the first years of car racing, and dozens were killed each year. Race organizers were unable to keep up with the rapid advancement of engine technology that propelled the racers at higher and higher speeds each year. Road racing in Europe was banned in most places after 1904. It would take years to erase the damage to motor racing's reputation that was incurred in those first few gladiatorial years.

Marcel Renault

Marcel Renault

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Monday 17th November 1902

115 years ago

Frenchman M Augieres drove a Mors Z Paris-Vienne internal combustion engined car to a record of 77.13 mph / 124 km/h in Dourdan, France. The Mors is most notable because it was the first petrol engined vehicle to take the world land speed record. It was also driven by the first American (Vanderbilt) to come on the world record scene. He chose a model known as the Paris-Vienna, and made his successful attempt at Ablis near Chartres in August 1902. Vanderbilt's time was two-fifths of a second better than that set up by the steam-driver Serpollet along the Promenade des Anglais at Nice. The Mors was a 60 horse-power model and was really a road-racing model, not a vehicle specifically designed for speed in a straight line, as were later world record cars. As a road car, the Mors carried with it a lot of superfluous weight in the form of brakes, suspension parts, and even coachwork, and for this reason Vanderbilt's effort was a particularly good one. But for the same reason his record did not stand for long, once other drivers realised that a similar car could be modified specifically for record purposes and dispense with some of the road equipment necessary for the town-to-town races of the day, which were not abandoned until the disastrous Paris-Madrid race of 1904, which was stopped by the police at Bordeaux after a very heavy toll of casualties along the route.Henry Fournier drove a similar car to that used only a few months earlier by Vanderbilt, a 60 horse-power Paris-Vienna Mors, but succeeded in making it go fractionally faster. Both cars carried the engine at the front driving the rear wheels by chain, with a big gilled -tube radiator low down in the front and an enormous starting handle projecting through it.They had a coal-scuttle type bonnet later favoured by the Renault Brothers, and Fournier's car had louvres cut in the front of this bonnet. Vanderbilt favoured a strap round the bonnet-ahead of his time here, but Fournier dispensed with this. Curiously, Fournier's slightly faster car carried headlamps mounted on either side at the front of the car. There were of course no windscreens on these cars, nor were there any mudguards covering the artillery-type wheels of the two-seater bodies. The driver sat on the fuel tank, and not only for this reason but for many others it took a brave man to drive at approaching 80 miles an hour with an exposed chain whizzing round under his right elbow. Augieres used virtually the same car as that used by the two previous record-holders, Vanderbilt and Fournier. Fournier's record of 76.60 mph lasted only a matter of weeks, and Augieres came along in the same month, November 1902, and lopped off one-fifth of a second to put the speed up to 77.13 mph.

M Augieres

M Augieres

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Tuesday 26th May 1903

114 years ago

Marcel Renault, age 31, died without regaining consciousness, 48 hours after crashing on the opening day of the Paris to Madrid race. After another deadly crash, the race was cancelled at the end of the first leg from Paris to Bordeaux, and the era of city-to-city races came to an end. The Paris Races were started in 1897 as a way for manufacturers to show off their cars. The first race, from Paris to Rouen, was a major sensation in the sports world as the first proper car race. The races helped to establish France as the premier car-racing nation in the world. Famous racers like Emile Levassor, le Comte De Dion, Panhard, and Marcel and Louis Renault made their names at these races. Panhard, De Dion, and Renault rapidly became three of the biggest names in manufacturing, their reputations relying heavily on their successes at these high-profile events. Marcel Renault's death was the last straw for French authorities. Nearly every race resulted in the fatalities of drivers or spectators, and racing on public roads in Europe came to an end.

Marcel Renault

Marcel Renault

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Tuesday 26th June 1906

111 years ago

The inaugural French Grand Prix, staged in Le Mans by the Automobile Club of France (ACF), was won by Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz in a 90hp 13 litre Renault Typ AK at an average speed of 63 mph. Although this wasn’t the first event to carry the title, history has cemented its place as the start of ‘grand prix’ racing proper. The idea for the grand prix arose from the annual Gordon Bennett Cup races after the French – then leading the world in car production and sales – had thrown a strop because Gordon Bennett rules limited competing cars to three per nation. L’Automobile Club de France stated that it would not stage the Gordon Bennett event in 1906, replacing it with a competition with no limit on the number of vehicles built in a specific country. Other nations were invited to host the Gordon Bennett race instead, but there were no takers. Hence, the new French race assumed a prominent position in international motor racing. The race had 34 starters, of which 25 were French, six were from Italy and three from Germany. Great Britain was officially absent as a protest against the abandonment of the Gordon Bennett rules, but probably a more important factor was the cost and the handicap of having to prepare for a contest on foreign soil. The Grand Prix was raced 768 miles (1200 km) of dirt roads over two days, and run under a new set of rules that would become a standard element of Grand Prix racing. The ACF stipulated that all cars were to weigh no more than 1,000 kg. Each manufacturer could enter three cars, with each car operated by a two-man crew. Entries included cars from Panhard, Lorraine-Dietrich, Fiat, Darracq, Hotchkiss, Itala and Renault. Individual starts were the rule in those days. Hungarian racer Ferenc Szisz moved his Renault into the lead after three of six laps on the opening day. Bradley wrote: “This car was fitted with detachable wheel rims all round and every two laps both rears were changed, whatever their condition. On one occasion two rears were changed, tanks filled and lubricators adjusted in four and a half minutes, a performance much appreciated by the public. Szisz maintained his lead to win the French GP at an average of 62mph. There was no prize money. Competitors had to pay an entry fee of about £200, and in many cases the total cost of building and running a racing car was as high as £10,000. But the prestige was immense.

Ferenc Szisz driving the Renault Type AK during 1906 French Grand Prix, ahead of the Hotchkiss of Elliott Shepard.

Ferenc Szisz driving the Renault Type AK during 1906 French Grand Prix, ahead of the Hotchkiss of Elliott Shepard.

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Saturday 29th July 1916

101 years ago

The Nash Motor Company, based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, was founded by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash after acquiring the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. Jeffery's best-known automobile was the Rambler whose mass production from a plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin began in 1902. The 1917 Nash Model 671 was the first vehicle produced to bear the name of the new company's founder. Nash enjoyed decades of success by focusing its efforts to build cars "embodying honest worth ... [at] a price level which held out possibilities of a very wide market." Charles Nash convinced the chief engineer of GM's Oakland Division, Finnish-born Nils Eric Wahlberg, to move to Nash's new company. Wahlberg is credited with helping to design flow-through ventilation that is used today in nearly every motor vehicle. Introduced in 1938, Nash's Weather Eye directed fresh, outside air into the car's fan-boosted, filtered ventilation system, where it was warmed (or cooled), and then removed through rearward placed vents. The process also helped to reduce humidity and equalize the slight pressure differential between the outside and inside of a moving vehicle. Another unique feature of Nash cars was the unequal wheel tracks. The front wheels were set slightly narrower than the rear, thus adding stability and improving cornering. Wahlberg was also an early proponent of wind tunnel testing for vehicles and during World War II worked with Theodore (Ted) Ulrich in the development of Nash's radically styled Airflyte models. Nash's slogan from the late 1920s and 1930s was "Give the customer more than he has paid for" and the cars lived up to it. Innovations included a straight-eight engine with overhead valves, twin spark plugs, and nine crankshaft bearings in 1930. The 1932 Ambassador Eight had synchromesh transmissions and free wheeling, automatic centralized chassis lubrication, a worm-drive rear end, and its suspension was adjustable inside the car. A long-time proponent of automotive safety, Nash was among the early mid- and low-priced cars to offer four-wheel brakes. The Nash was a success among consumers that meant for the company "selling for a long time has been 100% a production problem... month after month all the cars that could be produced were sold before they left the factory floor." For the 1925 model year, Nash introduced the entry-level marque Ajax. A car of exceptional quality for its price, the Ajax was produced in the newly acquired Mitchell Motor Car Company plant in Racine, Wisconsin. In 1924, Nash absorbed LaFayette Motors and converted its plant to produce Ajax automobiles. The LaFayette name was reintroduced in 1934 as a lower priced companion to Nash. LaFayette ceased to be an independent marque with the introduction of the 1937 models. From 1937 through 1940, the Nash LaFayette was the lowest priced Nash, and was replaced by the new unibody Nash 600 for the 1941 model year. Before retiring, Charlie Nash chose Kelvinator Corporation head George W. Mason to succeed him. Mason accepted, but placed one condition on the job: Nash would acquire controlling interest in Kelvinator, which at the time was the leading manufacturer of high-end refrigerators and kitchen appliances in the United States. The resulting company, as of January 4, 1937, was known as the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. Nash as a brand name continued to represent automobiles for Nash-Kelvinator. This was the largest merger of companies not in the same industry up until that time. In 1938, Nash introduced an optional conditioned air heating/ventilating system, an outcome of the expertise shared between Kelvinator and Nash. This was the first hot-water car heater to draw fresh air from outside the car, and is the basis of all modern car heaters in use today. Also in 1938, Nash, along with other car manufacturers Studebaker and Graham, offered vacuum-controlled shifting, an early approach at removing the gearshift from the front floorboards. Automobiles equipped with the Automatic Vacuum Shift (supplied by the Evans Products Company) had a small gear selector lever mounted on the dashboard, immediately below the radio controls. In 1936, Nash introduced the "Bed-In-A-Car" feature, which allowed the car's interior to be converted into a sleeping compartment. The rear seat back hinged up, allowing the rear seat cushion to be propped up into a level position. This also created an opening between the passenger compartment and the trunk. Two adults could sleep in the car, with their legs and feet in the trunk, and their heads and shoulders on the rear seat cushions. In 1949 this arrangement was modified so that fully reclining front seat backs created a sleeping area entirely within the passenger compartment. In 1950 these reclining seat backs were given the ability to lock into several intermediate positions. Nash soon called these new seat backs "Airliner Reclining Seats". In 1939, Nash added a thermostat to its "Conditioned Air System", and thus the famous Nash Weather Eye heater was born. The 1939 and 1940 Nash streamlined cars were designed by George Walker and Associates and freelance body stylist Don Mortrude. They were available in three series - LaFayette, Ambassador Six and Ambassador Eight. For the 1940 model cars Nash introduced independent coil spring front suspension and sealed beam headlights. The 1941, Nash 600 was the first mass-produced unibody construction automobile made in the United States. Post-World War II passenger car production resumed on October 27, 1945 with an Ambassador sedan first off the assembly line. There were few changes from 1942 models, most noticeable were longer and slimmer upper grille bars and a projecting center section on the lower grille. The 600 models got a new, more conventional front suspension & steering system. The inline 8-cylinder Ambassador model did not return in 1946. The large Ambassador engine thus was the seven main bearing, overhead valve 234-cubic-inch six-cylinder developing 112 brake horsepower. For the 1946 model year Nash introduced the Suburban model that used wood framing & panels on the body. It was similar to the Chrysler Town and Country and Ford Sportsman models. Suburbans were continued in 1947 and 1948 models with 1,000 built over all three years. In 1948 the Ambassador convertible returned with 1,000 built. The aerodynamic 1949 Nash "Airflyte" was the first car of an advanced design introduced by the company after the war. Its aerodynamic body shape was developed in a wind tunnel. The "cutting-edge aerodynamics" was the most "alarming" all-new postwar design in the industry since the Chrysler Airflow. The few changes for the 1950 Airflytes were a wider rear window, concealed fuel filler cap, some dashboard features and addition on Ambassadors of a GM Hydramatic automatic transmission option. The 600 models were renamed the "Statesman". A new first for an American car were seat belts, also new was a five-position Airliner reclining front passenger seat back, both optional in both models. The stroke on the Statesman engine was increased 1/4 inch giving 186 cubic inches and 85 HP and the Ambassador received a new cylinder head that increased HP to 115. Changes for the 1951 model Airflytes were to the rear fenders, elongated to incorporate vertical taillights, a new conventional dashboard replacing the Uniscope mounted on the steering column, a new vertical bar grille with horizontal parking lights and addition of GM Hydramatic as a Statesman option also. The three best sales years for Nash up to that time were 1949, 1950 and 1951. Nash-Kelvinator's President George Mason felt Nash had the best chance of reaching a larger market in building small cars. He directed Nash towards the development of the first compact of the post war era, the 1950 Nash Rambler, which was marketed as an up-market, feature-laden convertible. Mason also arranged for the introduction of the Austin-built small Metropolitan from Britain, which was introduced as a 1954 model. The full-size Nash Airflytes were completely re-designed for 1952, and were promoted as the Golden Airflytes, in honor of Nash Motors' 50th anniversary as an automobile builder (the company now counting the years of the Thomas B. Jeffery Company as part of their own heritage.) "Great Cars Since 1902" became one of the company's advertising slogans. Nash was one of the few American car manufacturers to introduce an all-new 1952 model other than Ford Motor Company. The new Golden Airflytes presented a more modern, squared-off look than did the 1949–1951 models, which were often compared to upside-down bathtubs. Pininfarina of Italy was contracted by Nash to design a body for the new Golden Airflyte; however management was unhappy with the design and the result was a combination of an in-house design and Pininfarina's model. Using its Kelvinator refrigeration experience, the automobile industry's first single-unit heating and air conditioning system was introduced by Nash in 1954. This was a compact, affordable system for the mass market with controls on the dash and an electric clutch.[21] Entirely incorporated within the engine bay, the combined heating and cooling system had cold air for passengers enter through dash-mounted vents.[20] Competing systems used a separate heating system and an engine-mounted compressor with an Evaporator in the car's trunk to deliver cold air through the rear package shelf and overhead vents. The alternative layout pioneered by Nash "became established practice and continues to form the basis of the modern and more sophisticated automatic climate control systems." 1951 saw the introduction of the Anglo-American Nash-Healey sports car, a collaborative effort between George Mason and British sports car manufacturer Donald Healey. Healey designed and built the chassis and suspension and also, until 1952, the aluminum body which another British manufacturer, Panelcraft Sheet Metal Co. Ltd., fabricated in Birmingham. Nash shipped the powertrain components. Healey assembled the cars, which were then shipped to the U.S. for sale. In 1952 the Italian designer Battista Farina restyled the body, and its construction changed to steel and aluminum. High costs, low sales and Nash's focus on the Rambler line led to the termination of Nash-Healey production in 1954 after 506 automobiles had been produced. In January 1954 Nash announced the acquisition of the Hudson Motor Car Company as a friendly merger, creating American Motors Corporation (AMC). To improve the financial performance of the combined companies, all production beginning with the 1955 Nash and Hudson models would happen at Nash's Kenosha plant. Nash would focus most of its marketing dollars on its smaller Rambler models, and Hudson would focus its marketing dollars on its full-sized cars. The Nash Metropolitan produced with the British Motor Corporation, which had been marketed under both the Nash and Hudson brands, became a make unto its own in 1957, as did the Rambler. The Ramblers quickly overtook Nash and Hudson as the leading line of cars manufactured by AMC. In 1970, American Motors acquired Kaiser Jeep (the descendant of Willys-Overland Motors) and its Toledo, Ohio, based manufacturing facilities. In the early 1980s, AMC entered into a partnership with Renault which was looking for a re-entry into the American market in the 1980s. AMC was ultimately acquired by Chrysler Corporation in 1987, becoming the Jeep-Eagle division.

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Wednesday 12th April 1922

95 years ago

The International Motor Truck Corporation changed its name to Mack Trucks, Inc. In 1890, John M. "Jack" Mack took a job at the Falleson & Berry carriage and wagon firm in Brooklyn. Three years later, Jack and his brother Augustus F. Mack purchased that same company, where they were joined by the third brother, William C. Mack in 1894. By the 1900s, the Mack brothers had phased out the carriages and put their combined creative focus to wagon construction and manufacture. Much of the brother's time was spent manufacturing wagons and repairing vehicles. However, in 1909, they introduced the Mack truck known as the Junior Model. The Junior Model was a lightweight 1-1/2 ton truck with a left hand steer and chain drive. This was closely followed by the Mack Senior truck with right hand steer and chain drive. Because of the success of these vehicles, in 1922 the company name was changed to Mack Trucks, Incorporated.The reason for changing the name was multifold. However, the most important reason for the change was so the corporate name identified more closely with the company's product. In 1922, the Bulldog was also selected as the corporate symbol. The most famous Mack model throughout the years has remained the AC model. Also in the early 1900s, the Mack brothers were involved in producing Fire Apparatus. This production included many cities, expanding the reach of the Mack Truck market. Included in this group were Allentown, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois, and New York, New York. Hundreds of smaller departments around the nation also began using Mack trucks in their cities and towns. During wartime, Mack Truck became involved with production for the military. In the 1940s, Mack produced trucks to support the needs of the Allied Forces. The late 1940s and early 1950s saw Mack Trucks producing marine engines. Known as "The Mariner," these engines were used in pilot and work boats, as well as in power yachts. In the 1950s And 1960s, Mack Trucks were designed with clean, timeless styling that made them increasingly popular. By combining aluminum components with powerful engines, the Mack Truck became known as a long distance hauler for West Coast operators, and more than 35,000 Mack L models were on highways during this time. Additional product advancements included an all aluminum cab for light weight. The ability to haul larger payloads made the Mack truck ever popular for West Coast haulers. The advent of the H series "Cherry Pickers," so named for their high cabs, had short bumper to back of cab dimensions that allowed accommodation of trailers within legal limits for maximum storage and hauling capacity. Advancements in the direct-injection diesel engine created Mack as the standard for leadership in diesel performance and fuel efficiency in the industry. In 1969, Mack introduced and patented the cab air suspension to increase cab durability. The Maxidyne engine released in 1967 provided a wider range of engine speeds, which could reach more maximum horsepower than any other diesel engine of the day. In 1971, Mack was distinguished as the first heavy-duty diesel engine manufacturer to create its own compression brake system, called the Dynatard, which gave engines top performance. Mack continues to be North America's largest producer of heavy-duty diesel trucks and components as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Renault Group. Name changes and transitions with acquisitions of companies is something Mack Trucks has in common with the history of GMC trucks. Throughout this period of development, Mack Trucks continues to develop sleek, aerodynamic styling using leading edge technologies. Drivers associate the Mack Truck with power, handling, and comfort, while fleet owners appreciate the low operating costs, serviceability of the trucks, and their overall efficiency.

Mack Bulldog truck

Mack Bulldog truck

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Friday 25th July 1924

93 years ago

Engineer Gustaf Larson and SKF sales manager Assar Gabrielsson met by chance over a plate of crayfish, and after enjoying their meal agreed to start up production of 'The Swedish Car', ie Volvo. Their vision was to build cars that could withstand the rigors of the country's rough roads and cold temperatures. The first Volvo car rolled off the production line at the factory in Gothenburg in 1927. Only 280 cars were built that year. The first truck, the "Series 1", debuted in January 1928, as an immediate success and attracted attention outside the country. In 1930, Volvo sold 639 cars, and the export of trucks to Europe started soon after; the cars did not become well-known outside Sweden until after World War II. Pentaverken, who had manufactured engines for Volvo, was acquired in 1935, providing a secure supply of engines and entry into the marine engine market. The first bus, named B1, was launched in 1934, and aircraft engines were added to the growing range of products at the beginning of the 1940s. In 1963, Volvo opened the Volvo Halifax Assembly plant, the first assembly plant in the company's history outside of Sweden in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1999, the European Union blocked a merger with Scania AB. That same year, Volvo Group sold its car division Volvo Car Corporation to Ford Motor Company for $6.45 billion. The division was placed within Ford's Premier Automotive Group alongside Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Volvo engineering resources and components would be used in various Ford, Land Rover and Aston Martin products, with the second generation Land Rover Freelander designed on the same platform as the second generation Volvo S80. The Volvo T5 petrol engine was used in the Ford Focus ST and RS performance models, and Volvo's satellite navigation system was used on certain Aston Martin Vanquish, DB9 and V8 Vantage models. Ford sold the Volvo Car Corporation in 2010 to Geely Automobile of China for $1.8 billion. The move followed Ford's 2007 sale of Aston Martin, and 2008 sale of Jaguar Land Rover. Renault Véhicules Industriels (which included Mack Trucks, but not Renault's stake in Irisbus) was sold to Volvo during January 2001, and Volvo renamed it Renault Trucks in 2002. Renault became AB Volvo's biggest shareholder with a 19.9% stake (in shares and voting rights) as part of the deal. Renault increased its shareholding to 21.7% by 2010.

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Thursday 5th April 1934

83 years ago

A Renault team took the 48 hour speed record at Montlhéry with a speed of 115 mph (185 km/h).

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Friday 22nd June 1934

83 years ago

Ferdinand Porsche signed a contract with the Automobile Manufacturers Association of Germany (RDA) to build three prototype "people's cars" over a 10-month period. The contract was a direct result of Hitler's personal request to Porsche that he design such a car. The result, of course, was the Volkswagen. But it would take years for Porsche to accomplish his dream of bringing a small, affordable car to the market. In 1899, at the age of 24, Ferdinand Porsche became one of Europe's most famous automotive engineers with the introduction of his Porsche-Lohner electric car. It was his first offering to the world, and it was characteristically ingenious. Ferdinand Porsche is the automotive world's answer to "the Natural"; his designs have always been incomprehensibly ahead of their times. At a time when all automotive designers focused all their energies on mustering speed, Porsche's car came with two separate braking systems, one mechanical and one electric, while still supplying competitive speed. For the next 35 years Porsche would strive, often under the auspices of Daimler Motors, to produce the smallest, fastest cars in the world. So recognizable was Porsche's genius that his quest was sadly hindered by outside interference. Consider that in 1932, while first working on the design for a "Volksauto" for Zundapp Motors in Germany, Porsche was approached by a group of Russian engineers with a remarkable offer. Having studied his work, the Russian engineers had deemed Porsche the greatest automotive engineer, and as such offered to take him back to Russia to show him the state of their country's industry. Porsche didn't know what they wanted but, flattered by the invitation, he went along. He was received like royalty, an honored guest of the state. The offer from the Russians was inconceivable: they offered him the position of state designer of Russia, a position in charge of all automobile, tank, and electric vehicle production. Every one of his designs would be realized by the country's vast sources of material wealth. All he had to do was sign a contract. Porsche respectfully declined, but such was his prowess that only two years later Adolf Hitler approached Porsche with the project of designing a people's car for the state of Germany. Since Porsche’s dream was to produce a small and affordable car, he jumped at the offer. The Volkswagen prototype was completed in 1936. But war in Europe erupted before production could begin. Porsche was asked to supply tank designs, which he did, creating the Tiger, Ferdinand, and Mouse tanks for the German army. Hitler moved Porsche from Stuttgart to the remote Austrian town of Gmund, in order to keep him away from Allied bombing. At the end of the war the U.S. Army captured Porsche, interrogated him, and released him to his villa in Gmund. Then French officials arrested him for his participation in the war, and Porsche served a two-year sentence at the Renault estate in France. He was finally released in 1947, and he returned to Gmund. There he undertook, with his son Ferry, the project of building a small performance car with his own name. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen had gone into mass production. The first Porsche, the 356, was a convertible sports car version of the Volkswagen with much improved suspension.

Ferdinand Porsche in front of a VW prototype W30, 1937

Ferdinand Porsche in front of a VW prototype W30, 1937

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Thursday 7th October 1937

80 years ago

The Renault Juvaquatre,a small family car, was showcased at the Paris Motor Show and put on sale the following year. Citroen premiered their 11CV van and launched diesel versions of the Type 32 truck (4-cylinder engine, 3,053 cm3, 55 bhp) and the Type 45 (6-cylinder engine, 4,580 cm3, 76 bhp). The 6-cylinder engine was used in Citroen’s heavy vehicle range until 1971.

Renault Juvaquatre

Renault Juvaquatre

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Wednesday 18th October 1939

78 years ago

The Automotive Hall of Fame was founded in New York City by a group called the "Automobile Old Timers." Its mission was to perpetuate the memories of early automotive pioneers and to honor people from all parts of the auto industry worldwide.It went through for adverse times for its first three decades, and had four name changes. Its second iteration was "Automotive Old Timers" adopted in 1957 and intended to recognize its broader base, including automotive-related industries. In 1971 it became "The Automotive Organization Team." Finally, it became "The Automotive Hall of Fame" which resulted in greater growth. The organization moved to Washington, D.C. in 1960, sharing space in the National Automobile Dealers Association building. In 1971, it moved to Midland, Michigan where it got its first home at Northwood University. In 1997, it moved to its present home in Dearborn, Michigan, adjacent to The Henry Ford museum. It is within the MotorCities National Heritage Area, an affiliate of the U.S. National Park Service dedicated to preserving and promoting the automotive and labor history of Michigan. The facilities with automobile history artifacts are in a 25,000-square-foot building containing a small theater and a central enclosed building area for public events, meetings and other exhibits.[12] The Hall honors members of the automotive industry each year. There were 250 members to the Automotive Hall of Fame by 2015. These inductees include the founders of Benz, Bosch, Bugatti, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroen, Cord, Daimler, Dodge, Duesenberg, Durant, Duryea, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Maybach, Olds, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault and Toyota among others. In 1946 the hall worked with the "National Golden Jubilee" (50th anniversary of the creation of the automobile). As General William S. Knudsen stated, the selection to the Hall of Fame included "Ten pioneers whose engineering and administrative genius made possible the present day." The selection was done in cooperation with the Automobile Manufacturers Association, the "National Automotive Golden Jubilee committee of which Knudeson was president. Edgar Apperson, William Crapo Durant, J. Frank Jersey, Henry Ford, George O'Malley, Charles B. King, Charles W Nash, Barney Oldfield, Ransom E. Olds, and Alfred P Sloan Jr. were selected.

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Wednesday 23rd December 1942

74 years ago

The first prototype of the Renault 4CV was unveiled. CV is the abbreviation of cheval-vapeur, the French equivalent to ‘horsepower’ as a unit of power. The name 4CV refers to the car’s tax horsepower. The Renault 4CV was the first French car to sell over a million units, and was superseded by the Dauphine. The 4CV was originally conceived and designed covertly by Renault engineers during the World War II German occupation of France, when the manufacturer was under strict orders to design and produce only commercial and military vehicles. Between 1941 and 1944 Renault was placed under the Technical Directorship of a francophile engineer, Wilhelm von Urach; between 1927 and 1940 employed by Daimler Benz) who failed to notice the small car project emerging on his watch. A design team led by the company's Technical Director Fernand Picard, recently returned from Renault's aero-engine division to the auto business and Charles-Edmond Serre, who had been with Renault for longer than virtually anyone else, envisioned a small, economical car suitable for the period of austerity expected after the war. This was in contrast to Louis Renault himself who in 1940 believed that after the war Renault would need to concentrate on its traditional mid-range cars. Jean-Auguste Riolfo, head of the test department, was made aware of the project from an early stage as were several other heads of department. In May 1941 Louis Renault himself burst into an office to find Serre and Picard studying a mock-up for the car's engine. By the end of an uncomfortable ad hoc meeting Renault's approval for the project, now accorded the code "106E", was provided. However, because the Germans had forbidden work on any new passenger car models, the 4CV development was defined, if at all, as a low priority spin-off from a project to develop a new engine for a post-war return of the company's 1930s small car, the Juvaquatre: departmental bosses installed by the Germans were definitely not to be trusted in respect of "Project 106E", while von Urach, their overlord, always managed to turn a blind eye to the whole business.

Renault 4CV prototype

Renault 4CV prototype

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Monday 21st February 1944

73 years ago

The winner of the first grand prix motor race Ferenc Szizs died in France aged 60. He was a locksmith by trade but joined Renault as an engineer in 1900. He quickly rose through the ranks to the manufacturer's testing department, and after riding as mechanic for Louis Renault, became a racing driver. In 1906 he won the first French Grand Prix at Le Mans with an average speed of 62.9 mph. He competed in a handful of other grand prix before setting up his own garage in 1909. He fought in World War I and caught typhoid while serving in Algeria. He later worked for an aircraft company before retiring to the countryside just outside Paris.

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Tuesday 10th October 1944

73 years ago

The first post-liberation Renault car was produced.

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Tuesday 24th October 1944

73 years ago

French car manufacturer and accused Nazi collaborator, Louis Renault (67), died in a Paris military prison hospital of undetermined causes. Time Magazine described Renault as "rich, powerful and famous, cantankerous, brilliant, often brutal, the little Napoleon of an car making empire"; "vulgar, loud, domineering, impatient, he was a terror to associates, a friend to practically none.”

Louis Renault

Louis Renault

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Tuesday 16th January 1945

72 years ago

French car manufacturer, Renault was nationalised. Signatories of the decree were the President of the provisional government, Charles De Gaulle, Robert Lacoste, Pierre Mendes-France, Alexabdre Paradi and Rene Pleven. In subsequent years, the Renault family tried to have the nationalisation ruling overturned by the French courts and receive compensation.

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Wednesday 17th January 1945

72 years ago

Renault was nationalised by the French government as a result of the alleged Nazi-collaboration of Louis Renault. The Regie des Usines Renault formed in Billancourt which was run as a private business by the government, appointed President, Pierre Lefaucheux.

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Tuesday 12th August 1947

70 years ago

The most famous Renault of the early post-war years, the 4-cylinder, 760cc 4 hp Renault 4CV, was launched. Designed in secret during the War, all cars produced in the first few years were painted desert sand yellow, using a bulk supply of paint from Rommel’s Afrika Korps. It was the first French car to sell over a million units, and was superseded by the Dauphine. The 4CV was of monocoque construction, 3.6 m (11 ft 10 in) in length with front suicide doors and using Renault's Ventoux engine in a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. CV is the abbreviation of cheval-vapeur, the French equivalent to "horsepower" as a unit of power. The name 4CV refers to the car's tax horsepower.

Renault 4CV advert

Renault 4CV advert

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Wednesday 22nd October 1947

70 years ago

The Renault 4CV was released at the Paris Motor Show, signalling new energy in small car design. In its 14-year production run, more than one million 4CVs were built, which significantly assisted the French working class in getting mobilised. Developed in secret in occupied France during the war, which might explain why it ended up being rear-engined and looking the way it did. But it could be argued that Renault improved on its German counterpart by offering four-doors and a little more interior room. The 4CV was one of the first really big-selling post war cars to be launched in 1946. It was powered by an 18bhp 760cc four-cylinder engine, featured all-independent suspension and very chic styling. More power – albeit from a smaller 747cc engine – arrived in 1950, and the gradual advancements continued until 1961. Most intriguing was the R1063 Sport, with 42bhp, which was very much the proto-Renault 8 Gordini. Eventually the 4CV was developed into the even more successful Dauphine

Renault 4CV

Renault 4CV

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Saturday 12th November 1949

68 years ago

The first Volkswagen Type 2, later named the Transporter, rolled off the assembly line. Only two models were offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. In all 9,541 Type 2s were produced in their first year of production. An ambulance model was added in December 1951 which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, put the spare tire behind the front seat, and added a "tailgate"-style rear door.These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967. 11,805 Type 2s were built in the 1951 model year.These were joined by a single-cab pickup in August 1952, and it changed the least of the Type 2s until all were heavily modified in 1968. Unlike other rear engine Volkswagens, which evolved constantly over time but never saw the introduction of all-new models, the Transporter not only evolved, but was completely revised periodically with variations retrospectively referred to as versions "T1" to "T5" (a nomenclature only invented after the introduction of the front-drive T4 which replaced the T25). However, only generations T1 to T3 (or T25 as it is still called in Ireland and Great Britain) can be seen as directly related to the Beetle (see below for details)[citation needed]. The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, are among the first 'forward control' vans in which the driver was placed above the front roadwheels. They started a trend in Europe, where the 1952 GM Bedford CA, 1958 RAF-977, 1959 Renault Estafette, 1960 BMC Morris J4, and 1960 Commer FC also used the concept. In the United States, the Corvair-based Chevrolet Corvan cargo van and Greenbrier passenger van went so far as to copy the Type 2's rear-engine layout, using the Corvair's horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine for power. Except for the Greenbrier and various 1950s–70s Fiat minivans, the Type 2 remained unique in being rear-engined. This was a disadvantage for the early "barndoor" Panel Vans, which could not easily be loaded from the rear because the engine cover intruded on interior space, but generally advantageous in traction and interior noise. Like the Beetle, the van has received numerous nicknames worldwide, including the "microbus", "minibus", and, because of its popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, Hippie van/wagon, and still remains iconic for many hippies today. Brazil contained the last factory in the world that produced the T2. Production in Brazil ceased on December 31, 2013, due to the introduction of more stringent safety regulations in the country. This marks the end of an era with the rear-engine Volkswagens manufactured (after the 2002 termination of its T3 successor in South Africa), which originated in 1935 with their Type 1 prototypes.

Volkswagen Type 2

Volkswagen Type 2

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Thursday 30th November 1950

66 years ago

The 1,996-cc, 4-cylinder Renault Frégate, an executive saloon, was launched at the Paris Motor Show in the Palais de Chaillot. Although comfortable, the engine, according to the motoring press, didn’t have enough power and the car felt ‘heavy and lumpish to drive’. The first models were not delivered until November 1951. The assembly plant at Flins where the car was assembled, which had been renamed after Pierre Lefaucheux, was formally opened in October 1952. Production built up only slowly. Even in 1953 it was reported that the Frégate, with approximately 25,000 units sold on the French market, was comfortably outpaced by the standard wheelbase versions of Citroën's '11 Normale' model, with approximately 35,000 sold that year, despite the Citroën being little changed since its unveiling fifteen years earlier and, since the war, available from the manufacturer's French factory only in black. From its appearance late in 1950 until 1953 the car was branded simply as the Frégate, but the nomenclature became more complicated at the Paris Motor Show in October 1952, and from early 1953 the Frégate was available in two trim levels, as the "Frégate Affaires" and the "Frégate Amiral", advertised at 799,300 francs and 899,000 francs respectively The "Frégate Amiral" was little changed from the previous year's Frégate, although the interior was slightly reworked and it did feature twin fog lights at the front whereas the previous year's model came with just a single fog light. Further minor external modifications for the October 1953 Motor Show included updated door handles and a change to the badge on the car's nose. The motif on the little shield was still diamond-shaped, but within the diamond the image of a three-masted frigate ("frégate") had been replaced by a tiny outline map of mainland France containing the inscription "RNUR-France". The "Frégate Affaires" offered a price saving of approximately 100,000 francs in return for a reduced specification that involved a simplified dashboard, reduced interior trim, the removal of exterior chrome over-riders from the bumpers as well as the loss of the twin fog lights and windscreen washer which remained a standard feature on the "Frégate Amiral" The launch of a cut-price Frégate was presumably part of the same strategy that was behind the launch of the cut-price 4CV Service. Neither of these stripped down versions were well received by customers: in the Frégate's case, this was one of several attempts to make the model more competitive that failed to shake Citroen's dominance of the French market for large family cars. Renault addressed the complaints about the lack of power from the 2 litre engine by introducing in 1956 the new 2141 cc Etendard engine, which produced 77 hp (57 kW). A new, luxurious Grand Pavois trim package was launched the same year. In 1957 a three-speed 'Transfluide' semi-automatic transmission, incorporating a fluid coupling, became an option along with a slightly more powerful version of the 2141 cc engine producing 80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS) due to a compression ratio increase from 7.0:1 to 7,5:1. The 1958 models saw another modified front grille. The prominent wide chrome oval and horizontal bars were removed to leave only the row of thin bars over which, since 1955, they had been placed.

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Thursday 14th January 1954

63 years ago

The Hudson Motor Car Company merged with Nash-Kelvinator, a car manufacturer formed in turn by the merger of the Nash automobile firm and the Kelvinator kitchen-appliance company. The new concern was called the American Motors Corporation. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in US history. By the end of 1957 the original Nash and Hudson brands were completely phased out. The company struggled at first, but Rambler sales took off. After two model years (1963 and 1964) of only producing compact cars, AMC focused back to larger and more profitable cars like the Ambassador line from the perceived negative of the Rambler's economy car image. In the face of deteriorating financial and market positions, Roy D. Chapin, Jr., took charge to revitalize the company, and designer Richard A. Teague economized by developing several vehicles from common stampings. While prices and costs were cut, new and more sporty automobiles were introduced, and from 1968 AMC became known for the Javelin and AMX muscle cars. AMC purchased Kaiser's Jeep utility vehicle operations in 1970 to complement their existing passenger car business. From 1980, AMC partnered with France's Renault to help finance their manufacturing operations, obtain much-needed capital, and source subcompact vehicles. Renault sold its 47% ownership stake in AMC to Chrysler. Chrysler made a public offer to purchase all the remaining outstanding shares of AMC stock on the NYSE. Renault left the US market completely as a brand in 1987. The Renault Medallion was sold through the newly formed Jeep Eagle Division of Chrysler as an Eagle, not a Renault. AMC's badge would be used on the Eagle Sports Wagon through the 1988 model year, then be eliminated entirely. The Jeep/Eagle division of Chrysler Corporation was formed from the AMC Jeep Renault dealer network. The Jeep and Eagle vehicles were marketed primarily by former AMC dealers. Ultimately, the Eagle Brand of car would be phased out like Chrysler's DeSoto, Plymouth, and Imperial by 1998.

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Tuesday 20th April 1954

63 years ago

(20th-29th)The first All Japan Motor Show was held at Hibiya Park, Tokyo. H.I.H. Prince Takamatsu attended as patron. 254 exhibitors displayed 267 vehicles. Major exhibits in the passenger car area included: Austin A40, Hilman Minxand Renault 4CV, which had just begun domestic production; the purely domestic 6-seater Prince Sedan AISH, already equipped with 4-speed synchronized stick shift; Toyopet Super RH from Toyota; Datsun Passenger Delux (Model DB-5) from Nissan; Sedan and Van from Ohta Motor; and three-wheeled passenger cars from Daihatsu.

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Tuesday 6th March 1956

61 years ago

The Renault Dauphine, designed mostly by Fernand Picard, was introduced at Le Palias de Chaillot in Paris, France. The rear-engined economy car was manufactured in a single body style – a three-box, four-door saloon – as the successor to the Renault 4CV; more than two million units were sold worldwide during its production run from 1956 until 1967. Along with such cars as the Volkswagen Beetle, Morris Minor, Mini and Fiat 500, the Dauphine pioneered the modern European economy car. Renault marketed variants of the Dauphine, including a sport model, theGordini, a luxury version, the Ondine, the 1093 factory racing model, and the Caravelle/Floride, a Dauphine-based two-door coupé and two-door convertible.

Renault Dauphine

Renault Dauphine

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Friday 20th April 1956

61 years ago

The third Toyko Motor Show opened. Vehicles were exhibited by type, and the center of popularity shifted to passenger cars. These characteristics indicated the birth of a full-scale motor show. Behind this trend was the "people s car plan" announced by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in May of 1955. The plan envisaged a 4passenger car capable of driving 100Km/h, wholesaling for ¥150,000 and retailing for ¥250,000. This was completely unrealistic given that average per capita national income was ¥75,960 and car prices at the time were: Datsun Sedan ¥750,000, Renault ¥740,000, and Toyota Crown ¥950,000. Still, the MITI plan spurred automakers to strive to cut prices.

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Wednesday 5th September 1956

61 years ago

Jean Herbert driving the Renault Etoile Filante (Shooting Star) at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, US set a land speed record for turbine-powered cars of 195 mph.

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Friday 8th March 1957

60 years ago

The Renault Dauphine, successor to the highly successful Renault 4CV was presented to the press at the opening of the Geneva Motor Show. The Dauphine, owed its name to the fact that the 4CV was considered the ‘Queen’ and therefore, its successor was naturally a ‘Dauphine’ or prince.

1958 Renault Dauphine

1958 Renault Dauphine

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Wednesday 8th January 1958

59 years ago

John Duff (61), the only Canadian to win at Le Mans, who had been inducted in the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, died. He was one of only two Canadians who raced and won on England’s famous Brooklands Motor Course. In 1920, Duff began his racing career at Brooklands, a 2.6 mile long concrete track with concave banking. He drove a Fiat S.61, a 10-litre chain-driven car built in 1908. By August 1920, he was lapping in the same range as Henry Segrave, one of the great Brooklands and Grand Prix drivers of the 1920s. Driving the S.61, Duff won the 75 Long Handicap at Brooklands in May 1921 at a speed of 104.19 mph. He won the 100 Long Handicap at Brooklands’ mid-summer meeting, averaging 104.85 mph. Duff was the fastest on the track for both wins. He also lost a number of races where he was the fastest. As Duff’s driving skills improved, his reputation began to put him at a disadvantage with the handicappers. In the off-season, Duff bought another old Fiat, the 18-litre pre-war racer called “Mephistopheles”.In June, he took both Fiats to the Fanoe beach speed trials in Denmark. Duff set the fastest time of the meeting with a run at 165.9 km/h. He also took a class win with the S.61 at a speed of 149.2 km/h, the third fastest speed of the meeting. In 1922, Duff sold the S.61 and focused on making Mephistopheles faster and more reliable. Harry Ricardo made a set of aluminum pistons and raised the engine’s compression ratio. In May, Duff finished third in Brooklands’ 100 Mile Handicap. In its next race, one of the Fiat’s engine blocks detached from the crankcase. When the engine blew, the hood was torn off the car, just missing Duff’s head. Engine parts rained down on the track. Duff sold the car for scrap. 1922 saw the birth of Duff and Aldington, a dealership set up to sell the new Bentley car. Duff raced a Bentley at Brooklands. On August 28, he took a stock 3-litre model to the track where he made an attempt on the “Double Twelve” record (24 Hour runs were not allowed at Brooklands due to the noise). The car broke before he could achieve that goal but, in the process, Duff set new Class E world records for 1, 2, and 3 hours, 100 and 200 miles, and 100, 200, 300, and 400 km. Duff returned to Brooklands on September 27–28, driving both 12 hour shifts singlehanded to take the Double 12 [6] at an average of 86.52 mph, for a total distance of 2,082 miles (3,351 km). He also broke the Class E world records for 1 to 12 hours and all distances from 100 to 1,000 miles and 100 to 1,600 km. In total, he set 38 international class records. The Double 12 record was an absolute record, regardless of class. The event was depicted on the cover picture of the first edition of the Brooklands Gazette, published in July 1924. At Brooklands’ autumn meeting, Duff appeared at the wheel of J.L. Dunne’s old 21-litre Blitzen Benz. He lost the 100 Mile Handicap to Parry Thomas, despite lapping at 114.49 mph. Unable to stop the old car at the end of the last lap, Duff shot over the top of the banking, crashing through trees and a telegraph pole outside the circuit before finally coming to rest. Early in 1923, Duff learned of a new 24 Hour race to be held at Le Mans. He was the first entrant. W. O. Bentley, the founder and then-owner of Bentley Motors, thought it was madness and that no car would finish. In the face of Duff’s determination, he agreed to have the car prepared at the factory and let his test driver, Frank Clement, partner Duff. The Duff/Clement Bentley was one of the fastest cars, Duff setting the fastest lap at 9 mins 39 sec for the 10.726 mile lap.[9] Rough track conditions took their toll as a flying stone holed the fuel tank, forcing Duff to run back to the pits. As only the drivers could work on the cars, Clement had to bicycle back with a can of gas to power the car back to the pits. Despite the drama, Duff and Clement finished a strong fourth.[10] More importantly, W.O. Bentley, who only went over at the last minute, became hooked on Le Mans, the race that would make his cars famous. Duff then took his Bentley to the Spanish Touring Car GP at Lasarte. Leading with two laps to go, he was hit in the face by a stone thrown up by a lapped car. Duff crashed into a wall, injuring his jaw and breaking some teeth. Despite that, he won first place in the 3 litre class, as he had easily outlasted and outdistanced his competition. "In token of his gallant drive Duff was awarded the 3-litre trophy anyway, there being no other finishers in the class." By 1924, Bentley was now fully committed to Le Mans. Duff was still a private entrant, using one of the dealership’s cars. His car was prepared alongside the works entry using ideas Duff had come up with after the 1923 race. Partnered by Clement, in a race run in intense heat, Duff won handily, giving Bentley its first victory at Le Mans. In 1925, a carburetor fire ended Duff’s chances at Le Mans. On September 9–10, 1925, Duff went to the high-banked Montlhéry track, near Paris, for an attempt at the absolute 24 Hour Record. He had a special single-seater Weymann body on his Bentley and works driver Dudley Benjafield as his co-driver. In driving rain, they did the first 12 hours at 97.7 mph but missed the 12 hour record. At 18 ½ hours, the camshaft drive failed, ending the attempt. He was able to claim two world records: 1,000 Kilometres in 6 hrs, 23 mins, 55 secs and 1,000 miles in 10 hrs 15 mins 59 secs. On September 21, Duff returned to Montlhéry with Woolf Barnato as his co-driver. Driving on a damp track in heavy mist, they covered 2,280 miles in 24 hours, averaging 95.02 mph.They beat the previous record, held by the 9-litre Renault of Garfield and Plessier, by over 7 mph. Along the way, the 3-litre Bentley took 21 world records, including those for six and twelve hours, and 500, 1000, and 2000 miles. Looking for new challenges, Duff went to America in February 1926. He signed to drive a Miller sponsored by the Elcar Automobile Company in the Indianapolis 500, following the death of Herbert Jones, who was killed attempting to qualify for the race in the Elcar Special. In a race shortened to 400 miles by rain, Duff finished 9th. The next AAA championship event was on the 1.25 mile board track at Altoona, Pennsylvania on June 12. Duff finished 3rd in the 250 mile race, two laps down. The next race was on the Rockingham board track in Salem, New Hampshire. A puncture pitched Duff’s car sideways, throwing him from the car. "John Duff of Indianapolis, Ind., wrecked his machine and suffered a broken collar bone when his car crashed through the top rail and dropped clear of the track." Duff suffered painful bone and muscle injuries, and a concussion that affected his vision. Knowing that his competitiveness would be compromised, and having promised his wife that he would quit if he suffered another serious injury, Duff retired from racing.

John Duff's official 1926 Indianapolis '500' qualifying photo

John Duff's official 1926 Indianapolis '500' qualifying photo

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Friday 18th July 1958

59 years ago

Henri Farman, pioneer racer, luxury automobile manufacturer, and airplane designer, died in Paris, France aged 84. In the 1890s he became a championship cyclist, and at the turn of the century he discovered motor racing, competing for Renault in the Gordon Bennett Cup. In partnership with his two brothers he built a highly successful and innovative aircraft manufacturing plant. Their 1914 model was used extensively for artillery observation and reconnaissance during World War I. The Farman Aircraft company's Goliath was the first long-distance passenger airliner, beginning regular Paris-London flights on February 8, 1919.

Henri Farman

Henri Farman

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Saturday 17th January 1959

58 years ago

A number of firsts marked the opening of the 51st Chicago Auto Show, including Toyota's inaugural Chicago appearance and introductions of the Rambler American, the Pontiac Wide-Track Bonneville and the Renault Caravelle (promoted by entertainer Sammy Davis Jr). Cadillac reached their pinnacle of chrome dazzle and soaring tailfins, Lincoln offered consumers six varieties of their Continental Mark IV, including a convertible and rare formal-roofed Town Car and limousine. Meanwhile, Studebaker launched the compact Lark, available in a variety of body styles, including a hardtop coupe and a convertible, with either a six-cylinder or V8 engine, setting the pace for a series of small cars from other American manufacturers.

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Monday 6th March 1961

56 years ago

Mini cabs were introduced by Carline in the City of London. Carline exploited a loophole in the 1869 Carriage Act, claiming that this only applied to cabs that “ply for hire” on the streets whereas their Anglias would operate by responding to calls phoned to the main office and then relayed to the driver. In their first week of operation the 12-strong Ford Anglia 105E’s fleet carried 500 passengers. Carline’s fares were two thirds of those of the black cabs and drivers promised greater service to London’s outer suburbs, where there was barely any provision for a licensed taxi “door-to-door” service. As a taxi, the Anglia was limited by having only two doors and so the main threat to the black cab took the form of a pair of imported minicabs that entered service that summer. Tom Sylvester ordered 25 black and white-liveried Fiat Multiplas, a four-door, long-wheelbase version of the famed 600 that had already established itself in Rome – despite being well under 14 feet long it was a genuine six-seater – but it was the fleet of Renault Dauphines run by the car rental firm Welbeck Motors that became the public face of the minicab. Welbeck’s managing director was an exceptionally publicity-conscious young law graduate named Michael Gotla. The media ran features about Gotla’s “£560,000 order” for 800 bright red Dauphine minicabs and how he planned to sell advertising space on the Renaults’ doors to garner an extra £75 per week. Such was the Welbeck minicab’s fame that there was even a Dinky model of the company’s Dauphine plus considerable press support. “The reaction of the hard-done-by travelling public to the coming of minicabs is – the more the merrier,” claimed The Times.

A Fiat Multipla minicab from 1962

A Fiat Multipla minicab from 1962

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Tuesday 6th June 1961

56 years ago

Ray Barfield drove his Aston Martin DB3S to win in the 6-hour 'Le Mans' race, winning from Bob MacDowall in a TR3A and Vic Johnson in an Austin Healey. Barfield set a race record distance of 187 laps, about 385 miles. David McKay drove a Renault Dauphine Gordini in the race and was highly critical of the event. Strangely, this didn't prevent him coming out of retirement for a one-off appearance four years later.

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Thursday 6th July 1961

56 years ago

The last Renault 4CV, the first French car to sell over a million units, was built. First produced in August 1947, the 4CV was a four-door saloon of monocoque construction, with front ‘suicide doors’ (hinged at the rear) and a rear Renault Ventoux engine in a rear-wheel-drive layout. It was superseded by the Dauphine.The 4CV was originally conceived and designed covertly by Renault engineers during the World War II German occupation of France, when the manufacturer was under strict orders to design and produce only commercial and military vehicles. Between 1941 and 1944 Renault was placed under the Technical Directorship of a francophile engineer, Wilhelm von Urach; between 1927 and 1940 employed by Daimler Benz) who failed to notice the small car project emerging on his watch. A design team led by the company's Technical Director Fernand Picard, recently returned from Renault's aero-engine division to the auto business[7] and Charles-Edmond Serre, who had been with Renault for longer than virtually anyone else, envisioned a small, economical car suitable for the period of austerity expected after the war. This was in contrast to Louis Renault himself who in 1940 believed that after the war Renault would need to concentrate on its traditional mid-range cars. Jean-Auguste Riolfo, head of the test department, was made aware of the project from an early stage as were several other heads of department. In May 1941 Louis Renault himself burst into an office to find Serre and Picard studying a mock-up for the car's engine. By the end of an uncomfortable ad hoc meeting Renault's approval for the project, now accorded the code "106E", was provided. However, because the Germans had forbidden work on any new passenger car models, the 4CV development was defined, if at all, as a low priority spin-off from a project to develop a new engine for a post-war return of the company's 1930s small car, the Juvaquatre: departmental bosses installed by the Germans were definitely not to be trusted in respect of "Project 106E", while von Urach, their overlord, always managed to turn a blind eye to the whole business

Renault 4CV

Renault 4CV

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Thursday 3rd August 1961

56 years ago

The very first production Renault 4, the world's first car with hermetically sealed cooling-system, was built. The Renault 4 was Renault's response to the 1948 Citroën 2CV. Renault was able to review the advantages and disadvantages of the 2CV design and come up with a larger, more urban vehicle. In early 1956, Renault Chairman Pierre Dreyfus launched this new project: 'designing a new model to replace the rear engined 4CV that would become an everyman's car, capable of satisfying the needs of most consumers. It would be a family car, a woman's car, a farmer's car, or a city car'.

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Wednesday 2nd December 1964

52 years ago

The first Renault 16 was completed at the purpose-built car plant at Sandouville, near Le Havre in France. One of the world’s first hatchbacks – halfway between a saloon and an estate body style - which would eventually become the most popular car body style in the world, the R16 won the prestigious European Car of the Year award in 1965. Over 1.8 million R16s were produced during the model’s 16-year lifetime. The Renault 16 was an innovative and interesting middle-class family car that proved that Renault's front-wheel drive concept pioneered in the 4 could be scaled up successfully where the profits were much higher. It also could be described as being one of the fathers of the modern family car, offering a hatchback and front-wheel drive years before it was popularised by cars such as the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 or Volkswagen Passat. Although not an obvious candidate for stardom, the Renault 16 was actually one of the 1960s most important cars. The monocoque body housed Renault's first front-wheel-drive arrangement on a large car; although unlike the BMC equivalents the engine was mounted longitudinally. However, the unit was thoroughly modern, with an aluminium cylinder head and block and wet liners, and it would go on to power millions of Renault vehicles well into the 1990s. The long-travel fully-independent suspension, which employed all-round torsion bars, guaranteed a soft ride, and soft and supportive seats and a well-trimmed cabin, merely enhanced the feeling of luxury. The column-change gearbox was popular on the continent, but British buyers couldn’t get on with it, although this wasn't a problem for most owners as it was light and smooth to operate. The R16's claim to fame, however, was its hatchback rear end. Other cars had been built with an opening rear hatch before, including the Renault 4, but it was the 16 that introduced such practicality to large, mainstream family cars, and wouldn't be rivalled until Austin's Maxi debuted in 1969. 16TX was the top models, with luxury cabins and 90mph capability. Conceptually it was similar to the R4, so that meant an odd longitudinal engine with the gearbox placed ahead of it in the nose, but in a larger car, the space inefficient layout was less of a problem. Lively alloy engines delivered fine performance, and disc brakes were powerful. The 1973 Renault 16TX was the ultimate version, with 1647cc 93bhp engine, five-speed transmission and quad headlights. Today it's still a great drive, but the best examples are now fetching strong money after years in the doldrums.

Renault 16 brochure (Canadian)

Renault 16 brochure (Canadian)

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Saturday 2nd January 1965

52 years ago

The first production Renault R16 was completed, just days before it was presented to the press. Although not an obvious candidate for stardom, the Renault 16 was actually one of the 1960s most important cars. The monocoque body housed Renault's first front-wheel-drive arrangement on a large car; although unlike the BMC equivalents the engine was mounted longitudinally. However, the unit was thoroughly modern, with an aluminium cylinder head and block and wet liners, and it would go on to power millions of Renault vehicles well into the 1990s. The long-travel fully-independent suspension, which employed all-round torsion bars, guaranteed a soft ride, and soft and supportive seats and a well-trimmed cabin, merely enhanced the feeling of luxury. The column-change gearbox was popular on the continent, but British buyers couldn’t get on with it, although this wasn't a problem for most owners as it was light and smooth to operate. The R16 was the first Renault-model to win the title "The car of the year".

Renault 16

Renault 16

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Tuesday 5th January 1965

52 years ago

The Renault 16, one of the 1960s most important cars, was introduced to the world and the press in a presentation on the Côte-d'Azur. The monocoque body housed Renault's first front-wheel-drive arrangement on a large car; although unlike the BMC equivalents the engine was mounted longitudinally. However, the unit was thoroughly modern, with an aluminium cylinder head and block and wet liners, and it would go on to power millions of Renault vehicles well into the 1990s. The R16 was a great success, with 1,845,959 R16s produced during a production run of 15 years. The car sold well in most of Europe, winning praise for its spacious and comfortable interior. It was marketed in the United States, but was not successful and only a few were sold. Interestingly, Citroën was designing an extremely similar car in the early 1960s (Projet F), to bridge their own enormous market gap between the tiny 2CV and luxury DS models. When Citroën realized that Renault was introducing the R16, they took the unusual step of cancelling Projet F.Due to the similarity of construction, rumours of Renault conducting industrial espionage abounded, but were never proven. The R16 was the first Renault-model to win the title "The car of the year".

Renault 16 (1965)

Renault 16 (1965)

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Friday 28th April 1967

50 years ago

Lotus Cars Ltd. introduced its new, ultra low, two-door mid-1498cc engine Lotus Europa, with a top speed of 121 mph. The Lotus Europa was unashamedly aimed at lucrative export markets, hence its name - and the choice of Renault drivetrains was taken because of its US compliance and widespread support in Europe. But lest we forget that it was actually one of the very first mid-engined cars you could actually buy for the road - hitting the market within months of the epochal Lamborghini Miura. The Europa used the front-wheel drive Renault 16's running gear, turned around, and placed behind the driver. And to prove the point about European markets, all S1s were exported. The earliest cars had their glassfibre body bonded to the steel chassis, which made repairs troublesome, but that was rectified with the 1969 S2 model. These cars were sold in the UK and came with more equipment including elecric windows. But despite its appealing mechanical layout, the Europa really could do with more power. Lotus answered this in 1971 when it intalled its twin-cam engine, initially in 105bhp form, but followed up by the 126bhp Special a year later. Both the Twin Cam and Special used the Renault 16 gearbox (with an improved gear linkage), though the Specials could also be had with a five-speed version from the 17TS. These twin-cam Europas were easily recognised by their cut-down rear buttresses.

Lotus Europa

Lotus Europa

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Wednesday 17th January 1968

49 years ago

Ford officially unveiled ‘The new Escort: the small car that isn’t’. It was initially available as a two-door saloon with 1,098-cc or 1,298-cc engines. A Deluxe cost £635 9s 7d, which included purchase tax and delivery. A-high performance twin-cam model, costing £1,123, was also unveiled. The Escort replaced the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford's European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC's Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford's own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car's UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe's largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. Just over two months after the launch of the saloon/sedan, Ford announced a three-door station wagon / estate version of their new Escort. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired "Coke bottle" waistline and the "dogbone" shaped front grille – arguably the car's main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Less than two years after launch, Ford offered a four-door version of the Escort.Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the "De Luxe" model). The "Super" model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter (190 mm) clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon.[11] A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine also used in the smallest capacity North American Ford Pinto. Diesel engines on small family cars were rare, and the Escort was no exception, initially featuring only petrol engines – in 1.1 L, and 1.3 L versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburetor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an "executive" version of the Escort was produced known as the "1300E". This featured the same 13" road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying.[13] It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time.[14] The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort's greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc "crossflow"-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I's were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for "Belt Drive A Series". Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford's Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 L Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant. The Escort was built in Germany and Britain, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. The Ford Escort was manufactured by Ford Europe from 1968 to 2004. The Ford Escort name was also applied to several different small cars produced in North America by Ford between 1981 and 2003. In 2014, Ford revived the Escort name for a car based on the second-generation Ford Focus sold on the Chinese market.

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Friday 19th September 1969

48 years ago

The body design of the Austin Allegro was finalised by the BLMC board (at a cost of £21m). The Allegro was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis as the replacement for the popular Austin 1100 and 1300 models. As with the Morris Marina, the car can be seen with hindsight as symptomatic of the enormous difficulties facing British Leyland during that period. The key factor that British Leyland can now be seen to have missed is that a much more useful and popular form of car, the hatchback, was emerging in Europe, with designs such as the Autobianchi A112, Renault 16, and Volkswagen Golf. This configuration would go on to dominate the market for small family cars in the space of a few years. British Leyland stuck to the more traditional and less versatile booted design when they launched the Allegro.

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Thursday 2nd October 1969

48 years ago

The Renault 12 was officially launched in Paris. It was initially only available as a four-door saloon, in L and TL specifications, both of which were powered by a 1289cc engine rated at 40kW. The more expensive TL featured two separate reclining front seats instead of one front bench seat, arm rests on the doors, lights in the boot and glovebox, a heated rear window, and extra warning lights.

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Friday 19th January 1973

44 years ago

The inaugural World Rally Championship season began with the 42ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo. At this time, the Monte-Carlo rally was structured as a concentration rally, with teams beginning competition in some nine different cities, with the first objective of the rally being to reach Monte Carlo, followed by two legs of competitive special stages around Monaco and southeastern France. Traditionally run on tarmac roads commonly covered in snow and ice, especially at higher altitudes, bad weather did force cancellation of two special stages. In 1973, and for several years afterward, only manufacturers were given points for finishes in WRC events. Alpine Renault dominated the event, a portent of their further success during the season with their Alpine-Renault A110 1800 car. They would take all three podium positions (Jean-Claude Andruet, Ove Andersson and Jean-Pierre Nicolas) and five of the top six places. The inaugural season comprised 13 events, of which seven have usually been part of the WRC schedule to this day; the Monte Carlo Rally, Swedish Rally, Rally Portugal, Acropolis Rally, 1000 Lakes Rally (now known as Rally Finland), RAC Rally (Wales Rally Great Britain) and Tour de Corse. Alpine-Renault won the manufacturer's world championship, after which Lancia took the title three years in a row with the Lancia Stratos. The first drivers' world championship was not awarded until 1979, although 1977 and 1978 seasons included an FIA Cup for Drivers, won by Italy's Sandro Munari and Finland's Markku Alén respectively. Sweden's Björn Waldegård became the first official world champion.

Jean-Claude Andruet on his way to victory on the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally, Alpine-Renault A110 1800

Jean-Claude Andruet on his way to victory on the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally, Alpine-Renault A110 1800

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Saturday 13th October 1973

44 years ago

The Alpine Renault A110 of Jean-Luc Therier and Jacque Jaubert won the San Remo Rally. Alpine clinched the World Rally Championship.

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Sunday 14th October 1973

44 years ago

Jackie Stewart announced his retirement from motor racing. While he signed with BRM alongside Graham Hill in 1965, a contract which netted him £4,000, his first race in an F1 car was for Lotus, as stand-in for an injured Clark, at the Rand Grand Prix in December 1964; the Lotus broke in the first heat, but he won the second. On his F1 debut in South Africa, he scored his first Championship point, finishing sixth. His first major competition victory came in the BRDC International Trophy in the late spring, and before the end of the year he won his first World Championship race at Monza, fighting wheel-to-wheel with teammate Hill's P261.[9] Stewart finished his rookie season with three seconds, a third, a fifth, and a sixth, and third place in the World Drivers' Championship. He also piloted Tyrrell's unsuccessful F2 Cooper T75-BRM, and ran the Rover Company's revolutionary turbine car at Le Mans. 1966 saw him almost win the Indianapolis 500 on his first attempt, in John Mecom's Lola T90-Ford, only to be denied by a broken scavenge pump while leading by over a lap with eight laps to go. However, Stewart's performance, having had the race fully in hand, sidelined only by mechanical failure, won him Rookie of the Year honours despite the winner, Graham Hill, also being an Indianapolis rookie. At the start of the 1966 season, Stewart won the Australasian 8 round championship from his BRM teammate Graham Hill in 2 litre BRMs and also raced closely with his great rival and friend Jim Clark who was somewhat disadvantaged by an unreliable Lotus 39 which was let down by old Climax 2.5s. Also, in 1966, a crash triggered his fight for improved safety in racing. On lap one of the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, when sudden rain caused many crashes, he found himself trapped in his overturned BRM, getting soaked by leaking fuel. The marshals had no tools to help him, and it took his teammate Hill and Bob Bondurant, who had also crashed nearby, to get him out after borrowing a spanner from a spectator's car. Since then, a main switch to disconnect electrics and a removable steering wheel have become standard. Also, noticing the long and slow transport to a hospital, he brought his own doctor to future races, while BRM supplied a medical truck for the benefit of all. Stewart also began keeping a spanner taped to his steering wheel. It was a poor year all around; the BRMs were unreliable, although Stewart did win the Monaco Grand Prix. Stewart had some success in other forms of racing during the year, winning the 1966 Tasman Series and the 1966 Rothmans 12 Hour International Sports Car Race. BRM's fortunes did not improve in 1967, despite closely contesting the Tasman championship with Jim Clark who in a Lotus 33 probably raced closer and harder with Jackie than at any time in their careers. While Clark usually won, Stewart won a classic victory in the NZGP with Clark attempting to run him down in the last laps with bodywork flying off the 33. Stewart came no higher than second at Spa, though he won F2 events for Tyrrell at Karlskoga, Enna, Oulton Park, and Albi in a Matra MS5 or MS7. He also placed 2nd driving a works-entered Ferrari driving with Chris Amon at the BOAC 6 Hours at Brands Hatch, the 10th round of World Sportscar Championship at the time. Stewart also did the 1967 National 500 NASCAR race but did not qualify for the race. In Formula One, he switched to Tyrrell's Matra International team, where he drove a Matra MS10-Cosworth for the 1968 and 1969 seasons. Skill (and improving tyres from Dunlop)[10] brought a win in heavy rain at Zandvoort. Another win in rain and fog at the Nürburgring, where he won by a margin of four minutes. He also won at Watkins Glen, but missed Jarama and Monaco due to an F2 injury at Jarama.His car failed at Mexico City, and so he lost the drivers' title to Hill. In 1969, Stewart had a number of races where he completely dominated the opposition, such as winning by over 2 laps at Montjuïc, a minute at Clemont-Ferrand and more than a lap at Silverstone. With additional wins at Kyalami, Zandvoort, and Monza, Stewart became world champion in 1969 in a Matra MS80-Cosworth. Until September 2005, when Fernando Alonso in a Renault became champion, he was the only driver to have won the championship driving for a French marque and, as Alonso's Renault was built in the UK, Stewart remains the only driver to win the world championship in a French-built car. For 1970, Matra insisted on using their own V12 engines, while Tyrrell and Stewart wanted to keep the Cosworths as well as the good connection to Ford. As a consequence, the Tyrrell team bought a chassis from March Engineering; Stewart took the March 701-Cosworth to wins at the Daily Mail Race of Champions and Jarama, but was soon overcome by Lotus' new 72. The new Tyrrell 001-Cosworth, appearing in August, suffered problems, but Stewart saw better days for it in 1971, and stayed on. Tyrrell continued to be sponsored by French fuel company Elf, and Stewart raced in a car painted French Racing Blue for many years. Stewart also continued to race sporadically in Formula Two, winning at Crystal Palace and placing at Thruxton. A projected Le Mans appearance, to co-drive the 4.5 litre Porsche 917K with Steve McQueen, did not come off, for McQueen's inability to get insurance. He also raced Can-Am, in the revolutionary Chaparral 2J. Stewart achieved pole position in 2 events, ahead of the dominant McLarens, but the chronic unreliability of the 2J prevented Stewart from finishing any races. Stewart went on to win the Formula One world championship in 1971 using the Tyrrell 003-Cosworth, winning Spain, Monaco, France, Britain, Germany, and Canada. He also did a full season in Can-Am, driving a Carl Haas sponsored Lola T260-Chevrolet. and again in 1973. During the 1971 Can-Am series, Stewart was the only driver able to challenge the McLarens driven by Dennis Hulme and Peter Revson. Stewart won 2 races; at Mont Tremblant and Mid Ohio. Stewart finished 3rd in the 1971 Can-Am Drivers Championship. The stress of racing year round, and on several continents eventually caused medical problems for Stewart. During the 1972 Grand Prix season he missed the Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles due to gastritis, and had to cancel plans to drive a Can-Am McLaren, but won the Argentine, French, U.S., and Canadian Grands Prix, to come second to Emerson Fittipaldi in the drivers' standings. Stewart also competed in a Ford Capri RS2600 in the European Touring Car Championship, with F1 teammate François Cevert and other F1 pilots, at a time where the competition between Ford and BMW was at a height. Stewart shared a Capri with F1 Tyrrell teammate François Cevert in the 1972 6 hours of Paul Ricard, finishing second. He also received an OBE. Entering the 1973 season, Stewart had decided to retire. He nevertheless won at South Africa, Belgium, Monaco, the Netherlands, and Austria. His last (and then record-setting) 27th victory came at the Nürburgring with a 1–2 for Tyrrell. "Nothing gave me more satisfaction than to win at the Nürburgring and yet, I was always afraid." Stewart later said. "When I left home for the German Grand Prix I always used to pause at the end of the driveway and take a long look back. I was never sure I'd come home again." After the fatal crash of his teammate François Cevert in practice for the 1973 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Stewart retired one race earlier than intended and missed what would have been his 100th Grand Prix. Nevertheless, Stewart still won the drivers' championship for the year. Stewart held the record for most wins by a Formula One driver (27) for 14 years until Alain Prost won the 1987 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the record for most wins by a British Formula One driver for 19 years until Nigel Mansell won the 1992 British Grand Prix.

Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart

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Thursday 1st May 1975

42 years ago

The Vauxhall Chevette, Britain's first production small hatchback, which was similar in concept to the Italian Fiat 127 and French Renault 5, went on sale, prices starting at £1,593. It was Vauxhall's version of the "T-Car" small car family from Vauxhall's parent General Motors (GM). The family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in Australia, the Chevrolet Chevette in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina, and in the U.S. and Canada was re-badged as Pontiac Acadian/Pontiac T1000.

Vauxhall Chevette

Vauxhall Chevette

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Friday 3rd September 1976

41 years ago

The Ford Fiesta was formally launched. It was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127 (although shorter than some other rivals, like the Peugeot 104, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo), but with an overall length shorter than that of the Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in December 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors when the car was designed, as they had used the name for the Oldsmobile Fiesta in the 1950s; however, it was freely given for Ford to use on their new supermini. Ford's marketing team had preferred the name Bravo, but Henry Ford II vetoed it in favour of the Fiesta name. The motoring press had begun speculating about the existence of the Bobcat project since 1973, but it was not until December 1975 that Ford officially announced it as the Fiesta. A Fiesta was on display at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in the UK in January 1977. Mechanically, the Fiesta followed tradition, with an end-on four-speed manual transmission of the Ford BC-Series mounted to a new version of the Ford Kent OHV engine, dubbed "Valencia" after the brand new Spanish factory in Almussafes, Valencia, developed especially to produce the new car. Ford's plants in Dagenham, England, and Saarlouis and Cologne (from 1979) in Germany, also manufactured Fiestas. To cut costs and speed up the research and development, the new powertrain package destined for the Fiesta was tested in Fiat 127 development "mules". Unlike several rivals, which used torsion bars in their suspension, the Fiesta used coil springs. The front suspension was of Ford's typical "track control arm" arrangement, where MacPherson struts were combined with lower control arms and longitudinal compression links.The standard rear suspension used a beam axle, trailing links and a Panhard rod, whilst an anti-roll bar was included in the sports package. All Mk1 Fiestas featured 12-inch wheels as standard, with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear.[3] Ford paid particular attention ease of service, and published the times required to replace various common parts.UK sales began in January 1977, where it was available from £1,856 for the basic 950 cc-engined model.[7] It was only the second hatchback mini-car to have been built in the UK at this stage, being launched a year after the Vauxhall Chevette, but a year before the Chrysler Sunbeam and four years before the Austin Metro. The millionth Fiesta was produced in 1979.[1] The car was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc (58.4 cu in) I4 (high compression and low compression options), and 1,117 cc (68.2 cu in) engines and in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. The U.S. Mark I Fiesta was built in Saarlouis, Germany but to slightly different specifications; U.S. models were Base, Decor, Sport, and Ghia, the Ghia having the highest level of trim.[8] These trim levels changed very little in the F iesta's three-year run in the USA, from 1978 to 1980. All U.S. models featured the more powerful 1,596 cc (97.4 cu in) engine, (which was the older "Crossflow" version of the Kent, rather than the Valencia) fitted with a catalytic converter and air pump to satisfy strict Californian emission regulations), energy-absorbing bumpers, side-marker lamps, round sealed-beam headlamps, improved crash dynamics and fuel system integrity as well as optional air conditioning (a/c was not available in Europe). In the U.S. market, the Ford Escort replaced both the Fiesta and the compact Pinto in 1981. At the beginning of the British government's Motability scheme for disabled motorists in 1978, the Fiesta was one of the key cars to be available on the scheme. A sporting derivative (1.3 L Supersport) was offered in Europe for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 L (79 cu in) Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 L version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones resulting in the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph (169 km/h) top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. For the 1979 auto show season, Ford in conjunction with its Ghia Operations in Turin, Italy, produced the Ford Fiesta Tuareg off-road car. It was touted in press materials as "a concept vehicle designed and equipped for practical, off-road recreational use." Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. In 1978, the Fiesta overtook the Vauxhall Chevette as Britain's best-selling supermini, but in 1981 it was knocked off the top spot by British Leyland's Austin Metro and was still in second place at the end of 1982. The Fiesta has sold over 16 million units over 6 generations making it one of the best selling Ford marques behind the Escort and the F-Series.

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Saturday 16th July 1977

40 years ago

The British Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Silverstone was won by James Hunt driving a McLaren M26, and marked the debut of Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve. The race was the first outing for the first turbocharged Formula One car, the Renault RS01, driven by Jean-Pierre Jabouille.

1977 British Grand Prix

1977 British Grand Prix

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Sunday 2nd October 1977

40 years ago

Fourth at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen was enough to secure Niki Lauda his second world championship in three years, with James Hunt, who was champion in between Lauda's triumphs, winning a wet race from Mario Andretti. While Hunt went all-out for victory, Lauda was content to stay off the pace and try for the one point he needed to clinch the title. Hunt built a 15-second lead until an oil leak two laps from the end allowed Andretti to cut that to three seconds by the finish, and had there been another lap he would almost certainly have passed him. Lauda's win was slightly tarnished the kind of Ferrari infighting that led to him leaving the team at the end of the year. The day before Enzo Ferrari had fired Lauda's mechanic over the phone and so he was not in the pits to join in the success.The 1977 F1 season saw Jody Scheckter's Wolf win first time out, Shadow took their only victory, and Gunnar Nilsson achieved the only win of a career ended by cancer. Renault entered grand prix racing with a turbocharged car which was initially not very successful. The German ATS team took over the Penske cars and the South African Grand Prix was the last race a BRM ever qualified to start. Lauda departed Ferrari even before the season ended, so did not complete the season, having already sealed the title thanks to his consistent form. Ferrari won its third consecutive Constructors' title with new driver Carlos Reutemann having a solid season. The season was also marred by one of the most horrific accidents in Formula One history. During the South African GP on 5 March, TV cameras captured how Tom Pryce was unable to avoid 19-year-old race marshall Frederik Jansen van Vuuren. The latter was killed by the terrifying collision, his body was hurled into the air, and his fire extinguisher killed and nearly decapitated Pryce, whose car proceeded to the end of the straight where it collided with Jacques Laffite's Ligier. There was further tragedy as Carlos Pace lost his life in an aviation accident only a couple of weeks after Pryce's accident.

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Thursday 2nd March 1978

39 years ago

The Renault 18 and Toyota Starlet were launched at the Geneva Motor Show.

Renault 18

Renault 18

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Tuesday 25th July 1978

39 years ago

Motability, a new scheme providing cars for disabled people was launched in Earl's Court, London, with the handing over of ten specially modified cars. By the mid 1970s over 40% of households in the country owned a car but disabled people claimed that they were missing out. Only those who could drive themselves received any government help with transport, usually in the form of a blue trike which was unable to take passengers. The Mobility Allowance - now called the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance - introduced by the Government in 1976 broke the mould in giving help regardless of ability to drive. It also signalled the Government's commitment to giving disabled people choice in the form of a cash allowance, rather than imposing certain types of vehicles on them. The Mobility Allowance was a positive advance but it soon became clear that it was not large enough to buy and run even the smallest car. The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Services invited the late Lord Goodman and (now Lord) Jeffrey Sterling to consider how disabled people could use this allowance to affordably obtain a vehicle. Thus Motability was born in 1977 and, often for the first time, disabled people could afford a good quality car from any participating manufacturer, fully insured, serviced, and with breakdown assistance. Motability was set up as a charity so it could also raise funds and make grants, in order to provide customers with a complete mobility package even if their allowance would not cover the type of car and adaptations that they needed. Motability opened up new horizons for many disabled people. Things that were once difficult to do, such as getting to work, going shopping, doing volunteer work, visiting friends, getting to the doctor, going swimming, giving a family member a lift, or enjoying a driving holiday, became easier. For some, enhanced opportunities for further education and profitable full-time employment became a reality for the first time. On 25 July 1978 ten young people attended the first Motability Scheme vehicle handover at Earls Court in London and received the keys to their new vehicles from then Chairman Lord Goodman. Julie Newport, disabled by polio, was one of the ten to receive her keys and commented: "I think it's marvellous," saying the Scheme gave disabled people the freedom and independence they really wanted. Also present were Rt Hon Lord Morris, Rt Hon Lord Jenkin, Allan Beard and Jeffrey Sterling, the present Chairman of Motability. In 2003, Motability celebrated its 25th anniversary with a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. The garden included a Motability car, an adapted Renault Clio, to symbolise disabled people gaining access to the remotest parts of the countryside. In October 2006, the Scheme hit the two million vehicles mark and Jeffrey Sterling commented: "Family life revolves around the disabled person so if you make someone mobile you don't help two million, it's more like six to eight million." The late Lord Goodman described the establishment of Motability in 1977 as "the most successful achievement of my career and the most fortunate thought that ever came into my head".

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Tuesday 9th January 1979

38 years ago

Just 33 months after its launch, the millionth Ford Fiesta was built at Ford's Cologne (Germany) facility, breaking all previous European production records. The Fiesta was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. The Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was the smallest car made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford's Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta (meaning "party" in Spanish) belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed and was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford's new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was launched as the Austin Metro in 1980.

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Thursday 1st March 1979

38 years ago

The estate version of Renault 18 launched.

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Wednesday 23rd May 1979

38 years ago

Hubert van Doorne (79), founder of Van Doorne's Aanhangwagenfabriek (Trailer factory) and of Van Doorne's Automobielfabriek (vehicle factory) known, especially to non-Dutch speakers, as DAF, together with his brother Willem (Wim) van Doorne, died. Van Doorne's Aanhangwagen Fabriek started producing trailers in Einhoven by 1949, DAF were also producing tractor units (trucks) for their trailers to be used with. In this field they introduced a number of revolutionary concepts including the demount container trailer and the automatic "fifth wheel" coupling. Daf cars arrived at the 1958 Amsterdam show (the AutoRIA) with the unveiling of a small four seater using a continuously variable, belt driven, transmission which Hub van Doorne had first thought of around 1952. After six years of development, it was successful enough to gain a positive reaction from show visitors and the Daf 600 Daffodil was released onto the market in 1959 complete with it's Variomatic continuously variable transmission. The Daf 33 of 1962 was very similar, with bodywork subtly revamped by Michelotti. The engine was essentially the same 2 cylinder, air cooled, boxer unit but with an increase to 746 cc. Michelotti was also tasked with the fully redesigned bodywork of the Daf 44 in 1967. This was the first of the "B Bodied" models and still used the same basic engine, but with a longer stroke crank to give 844cc capacity - an extra 10 teaspoons per cylinder of raw power! The Daf 55 of 1968 used the new B body with a more conventional 1106cc Renault 4 cylinder, watercooled inline, engine. This was the basis of the successful 55 Marathon rally car - still with Variomatic belt driven transmission!

Hub van Doorne

Hub van Doorne

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Friday 25th May 1979

38 years ago

Amédée Gordini (79), Italian-born race car driver and sports car manufacturer in France, died. Gordini set up his business preparing Simca engines in Suresnes near Paris. His first successes came that year with victory in Bol díOr at Saint-Germain and this was followed by many other class victories including the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1938 and 1939. In September 1945 Gordini became the first man to win a post-war event at the Robert Benoist Cup and began building his own racing cars . He won the 1946 Grand Prix de Marseille and the Simca-Gordini team was successful with Jean-Pierre Wimille as its driver. Then Wimille was killed at the 1949 Argentine Grand Prix and Gordini struggled to keep up with his former countrymen in the new Formula 1 scene. For 1952 he built new engines for the World Championship and Jean Behra scored Simca-Gordini's most famous victory at Reims. After Simca withdrew its support in 1956, Renault stepped in requiring copetition version of the Dauphine, the R8 and Alpine's Le Mans racers, buying up the Gordini company at the end of 1968. Many of Gordini's young engineers went on to play important roles in the Renault F1 program.

Amédée Gordini

Amédée Gordini

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Sunday 1st July 1979

38 years ago

The French Grand Prix was held at Dijon.It marked the first victory of a turbocharged car in Formula One, with Renault overcoming the reliability problems that had initially plagued their car. For Jean-Pierre Jabouille it was a victory on home soil, driving a French car (Renault), on French tyres (Michelin), powered by a French engine (Renault), burning French fuel (Elf). Jabouille was the first Frenchman to win the French Grand Prix since Jean-Pierre Wimille in 1948.

1979 French Grand Prix

1979 French Grand Prix

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Monday 9th July 1979

38 years ago

A car bomb destroyed a Renault motor car owned by the famed “Nazi hunters” Serge and Beate Klarsfeld at their home in France. A note purportedly from ODESSA claimed responsibility.

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Sunday 12th August 1979

38 years ago

Alan Jones won the Austrian Grand Prix for Williams, with Jaques Villeneuve (Ferrari) second and Jacques Laffite third (Ligier). As Austria is high up in the Austrian mountains, the Renault turbo had an advantage and Rene Arnoux was on pole position with Alan Jones second. Then came Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Renault) and Niki Lauda in the fastest of the two Brabham-Alfa Romeos. The third row featured Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) and Clay Regazzoni (Williams) and the top 10 was completed by Nelson Piquet (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), Jacques Laffite (Ligier), Jody Scheckter (Ferrari) and Didier Pironi (Tyrrell). Villeneuve made an amazing start to take the lead from Jones, Lauda and Arnoux. Jabouille lost his clutch at the start and dropped to ninth but quickly caught up. Villeneuve stayed ahead until the third lap when Jones breezed ahead, while Arnoux quickly dispensed with Lauda. On lap 11 Arnoux moved to second place but he was then overtaken by Jabouille. The Renault team leader lasted only a couple of laps before the clutch finally stopped him and so Arnoux settled into second place with Villeneuve third, Scheckter fourth, Regazzoni fifth and Laffite sixth. Laffite soon moved ahead of Regazzoni and the order then stayed unchanged up front until the closing laps when Arnoux began to have fuel pickup problems in the final laps and had to pit. He dropped to sixth place. On the last lap Laffite overtook Scheckter to grab third place behind Jones and Villeneuve. Scheckter added to his World Championship total with fourth place and the final points went to Regazzoni and Arnoux

Austrian Grand Prix - 1979

Austrian Grand Prix - 1979

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Sunday 9th September 1979

38 years ago

South African Jody Scheckter won the Italian Grand Prix for Ferrari, securing his one and only World Drivers Title. The field was slightly larger than normal at Monza with the return to the World Championship of Alfa Romeo which fielded a new 179 chassis for Bruno Giacomelli and the old 177 for Vittorio Brambilla, back in action for the first time since the crash at Monza the previous season. Ensign decided to give Formula 2 star Marc Surer a run in its car in place of Patrick Gaillard, while Hector Rebaque had his HR100 chassis ready for the first time. In qualifying it was no surprise to see the powerful Renault turbos first and second with Jean-Pierre Jabouille ahead of Rene Arnoux. Then came Jody Scheckter (Ferrari), Alan Jones (Williams), Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) and Clay Regazzoni (Williams). The top 10 was completed by Jacques Laffite (Ligier), Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda in the two Brabham-Alfa Romeos and Mario Andretti in the Lotus. As usual the Renaults were slow off the line and so Scheckter grabbed the lead from Arnoux. Behind then Villeneuve grabbed third while Laffite made a good start to get into fourth place. Jones dropped to the back of the field. On the second lap Arnoux was able to pass Scheckter to take the lead and for the next few laps the five front-runners were nose-to-tail, while Regazzoni ran in a lonely sixth position. That lasted until lap 13 when Arnoux's car began to misfire and he dropped away leaving Scheckter, Villeneuve, Laffite and Jabouille by themselves. Later in the race Jabouille dropped away with engine trouble and Laffite stopped with a similar problem and so third place went to Regazzoni with Lauda, Andretti and Jean-Pierre Jarier (Tyrrell) picking up the other points.

Jody Scheckter - 1979 Italian Grand Prix

Jody Scheckter - 1979 Italian Grand Prix

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Sunday 27th January 1980

37 years ago

Rene Arnoux claimed his first race win at the Brazilian Grand Prix but it was his Renault team-mate Jean-Pierre Jabouille who set the early pace, taking the lead on the second lap and staying at the front until mechanical troubles forced him to retire. Arnoux, who eased off in the final laps to preserve his tyres, was 22 seconds ahead of Elio de Angelis in an Essex Lotus with Alan Jones in a Saudia-Leyland.

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Saturday 1st March 1980

37 years ago

The Osella made its Formula One debut in the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami. But the car designed by Enzo Osella and Giorgio Stirano and driven by Eddie Cheever was involved in an accident and was forced to retire on lap 8. The race was won by French driver René Arnoux driving a Renault RE20. It was Arnoux' second World Championship victory adding to his win at the previous race the 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix. Arnoux won by 34 seconds over fellow French driver Jacques Laffite driving a Ligier JS11/15. Laffite's Ligier team mate Didier Pironi was third, completing an all France podium. This was the first race since the 1968 United States Grand Prix to have a podium made up of drivers from just one country. All three drivers were also driving French built cars.

Osella F1 - 1980

Osella F1 - 1980

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Thursday 1st May 1980

37 years ago

AMC marked the 25th anniversary of the Nash-Hudson merger with "Silver Anniversary" editions of the AMC Concord and Jeep CJ in two-tone silver (Jeeps then accounted for around 50% of the company's sales and most of its profits); and introduced "LeCar", a U.S. version of the small, fuel-efficient Renault 5, in dealer showrooms.

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Sunday 17th August 1980

37 years ago

Reserve Lotus driver, Nigel Mansell, made his Grand Prix debut at the Osterreichring, Austria. The future world champion retired with a broken engine after 40 laps and suffering burns after he raced in overalls soaked in fuel after a pre-race incident. The race was won by French driver, Jean-Pierre Jabouille driving a Renault RE20. The win was Jabouille's second and last Formula One Grand Prix victory. It was also his first points finish in over a year since his previous victory at the 1979 French Grand Prix. It would also be the last points finish of his career. Jabouille won by eight-tenths of a second over Australian driver Alan Jones driving a Williams FW07B. Third was Jones' Williams Grand Prix Engineering team mate, Argentinian driver Carlos Reutemann.

1980 Renault RE20 (Jean Pierre Jabouille)

1980 Renault RE20 (Jean Pierre Jabouille)

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Friday 6th February 1981

36 years ago

The political battle between the sport's governing body FISA and the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA) came to a head when FOCA held a non-championship race in Kyalami and threatened to create a breakaway series. The two sides were battling over regulations, the distribution of income and FISA's perceived bias towards the manufacturers Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo. Members of FOCA, including Max Mosley, came up with the idea while eating lunch in the French Alps and immediately called the organisation's ring-leader Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone, at the time the boss of Brabham, loved it and FOCA just about scraped together enough money to stage the race, using old Avon tyres from Ecclestone's warehouse. With the exception of the three manufacturers, most of the major teams took part. In reality FOCA didn't have the means to hold a full championship, but the threat worked nonetheless and in the same year FISA president Jean Marie Balestre agreed to the first Concorde Agreement.

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Saturday 7th February 1981

36 years ago

Carlos Reutemann won the disputed South African Grand Prix in a Williams - the race did not count towards the FIA World Championship as it was not sanctioned, but one used as leverage by FISA in an ongoing battle with the governing body. It was probably the last Formula Libre race staged as the cars did not conform to FIA rules prohibiting the use of skirts. Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo refused to have anything to do with the race in which Reutemann led from start to finish in drying conditions after stealing a march on his rivals by switching to dry tyres minutes before the start. "FOCA have proved themselves capable of staging a race," wrote Maurice Hamilton in the Guardian, "but even the most ardent enthusiasts had to admit that a race without Ferrari was like an international rugby championship without Wales."

Carlos Reutemann

Carlos Reutemann

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Sunday 5th July 1981

36 years ago

Alain Prost driving a Renault RE30 claimed the first of an eventful 51 wins for Renault, at the French Grand Prix.

Alain Prost, Renault, French Grand Prix 1981

Alain Prost, Renault, French Grand Prix 1981

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Saturday 23rd January 1982

35 years ago

The South African Grand Prix at Kyalami was overshadowed by a dispute between the drivers and FISA, the sports governing body which for some time threatened to cause the cancellation of the race. The drivers had spent Thursday locked in their hotel after objection to new so-called superlicences which, they claimed, removed their ability to enter into contract negotiations during a season. They refused to practice for the Saturday grand prix, and although a truce was called in time to allow the race to happen, FISA suspended the licenses of 29 of them immediately after the finish. Alain Prost in a Renault won despite suffering from such severe tyre vibrations that he was unable to read his instruments - team-mate Rene Arnoux , who had recorded his tenth career pole and who suffered from similar problems, took third with Carlos Reutemann in second. Keke Rosberg came fifth despite the gear knob of his Williams all but blocking the pedals of his car. The other big story was the return of former champion Niki Lauda after two years away to take fourth. "Niki was just fantastic … so fit," said McLaren's joint boss Ron Dennis. "It went better than we dared."

Alain Prost

Alain Prost

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Sunday 21st March 1982

35 years ago

Alain Prost put on a strong performance in his Renault at the Brazilian Grand Prix, taking pole, setting fastest lap and winning the event, though by the disqualification of Piquet, in 1:44:33. John Watson had a great drive to finish second after starting 12th on the grid. Nigel Mansell also had a fine finish in third after starting from the 14th spot. Nelson Piquet in his Brabham, would have won but he was DQ'd but was underweight. Keke Rosberg in his Williams also suffered a similar fate for second place.

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Sunday 25th April 1982

35 years ago

In the San Marino Grand Prix held at Imola, it was Didier Pironi clicking off the fastest lap to win from his sixth place starting spot. The field was only comprised of 14 cars. Pironi's Ferrari teammate Gilles Villeneuve was third on the grid and finished second, right on his gearbox, .366 of a second. Michele Alboreto in his Tyrrell was third 1:07 back from the winner. Polesitter Rene Arnoux in his Renault was out on lap 44 due to an engine failure.

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Sunday 25th April 1982

35 years ago

Controversy and ill feelings plagued the San Marino Grand Prix on the Imola circuit. Most teams aligned with FOCA boycotted the race claiming the ruling to uphold the DQ's of Piquet & Rosberg at Brazil constituted a rules change and violated the Concorde Agreement. McLaren, Williams, Brabham and Lotus were among teams that skipped the race, which only started 14 cars. The race itself saw Rene Arnoux in a Renault fighting off Ferrari teammates Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi. Leader Arnoux retired on lap 45 to leave the Ferraris 1-2. Villeneuve and Pironi began swapping the lead, which many felt was just for the fans behalf since Villeneuve was the #1 driver. But any thought about team orders went out the window when Pironi outbraked Villeneuve at the last hairpin and re-took the lead, going on to take the checkered 3 tenths of a second ahead of his angered teammate. The two drivers weren't on speaking terms following the incident.

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Sunday 9th May 1982

35 years ago

At the Belgium Grand Prix at Zolder, John Watson in his McLaren set the fastest lap of the race after starting way back in 12th spot where he went on to win the race in a time of 1:35:41. Keke Rosberg in the Williams was second, seven seconds back and Eddie Cheever was third from starting 16th. Polesitter Alain Prost in his Renault spun off on lap 59 and was done for the day. The other Ferrari of Didier Pironi was withdrawn by the team out of respect for the loss of Gillles Villenuve who perished in qualifying the day before.

John Watson (Belgium 1982)

John Watson (Belgium 1982)

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Sunday 25th July 1982

35 years ago

Six turbo-charged cars completed the first 6 grid positions at the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit. Four turbo-charged cars driven by 4 French drivers finished in the top 4 places, and the French Renault team finished 1-2 with René Arnoux winning and Alain Prost finishing second, but under sour circumstances- as Arnoux violated a pre-race agreement that if he and Prost were 1st and 2nd, Arnoux would let Prost by to help his better championship standing.

1982 French Grand Prix Start

1982 French Grand Prix Start

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Sunday 8th August 1982

35 years ago

Patrick Tambay won the German Grand Prix for Ferrari after his teammate Didier Pironi was injured in practice. Hockenheim had been modified from the year before, with the first chicane being made slower and another chicane added to slow cars through the very fast Ostkurve. Didier Pironi set the fastest practice time, but was seriously injured in qualifying for this Grand Prix and never raced in Formula One again. With the track wet thanks to persistent showers, Pironi was on a quick lap when his Ferrari hit the back of Alain Prost's slow moving Renault at high speed, vaulting over the top of it before landing tail-first and cartwheeling to a stop in eerie similarity to Gilles Villeneuve's fatal accident earlier in the season. Pironi survived but suffered severe leg injuries that sidelined him for the rest of the year. He never managed to return to Formula One before his death in 1987. Pironi's accident also had a profound effect on Prost who never forgot the sight of the Ferrari flying over his car, the crash firming his views on driving F1 cars in the wet where visibility was virtually zero if behind another car. Thanks to Hockenheim's long straights, the turbo-charged cars were overwhelmingly dominant in qualifying. Not only did turbo-charged cars take up the first 6 grid positions, but the utmost proof of this was the slowest turbo qualifier Riccardo Patrese, placing 6th, driving a Brabham-BMW was 2.9 seconds faster than the fastest non-turbo qualifier, 7th placed Michele Alboreto, driving a Ford-Cosworth powered Tyrrell. Since Ferrari never withdrew the injured Pironi, pole position was left empty at the start. Nelson Piquet led the race, but collided with Eliseo Salazar while lapping him at the new Ostkurve chicane. After the two cars came to a stop, an irate Piquet quickly climbed out of his Brabham, approached Salazar, and then punched and kicked Salazar in a rage, which continued for some time after the collision. It was later revealed that Piquet's BMW engine was suffering mechanical failure and would blow up anyway, had he and Salazar not crashed. Patrick Tambay, driving the lone Ferrari, won his first Formula One race.

1982 German Grand Prix

1982 German Grand Prix

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Sunday 17th April 1983

34 years ago

Alain Prost won the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard in his Renault, won from his pole position in a time of 1:34:13. He also set fastest lap of the race. From his sixth place starting position, Nelson Piquet in his Brabham was second 29.7 seconds behind and outside pole man, Eddie Cheever in the other Renault was third, 11 seconds later. Keke Rosberg had a very good drive from his 16th spot to finish 5th behind Patrick Tambay who also had a fine drive from 11th spot on the grid. Jacques Laffite was sixth starting all the way back in 19th.

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Sunday 22nd May 1983

34 years ago

The first Belgian Grand Prix race to be held on the modern Spa circuit was won by Alain Prost driving a Renault RE40

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Saturday 16th July 1983

34 years ago

The Spirit made its Formula 1 debut at the British Grand Prix, but the Type 201 driven by Stefan Johansson retired due to fuel pump belt failure. The 67-lap race was won by Renault driver Alain Prost after he started from third position. Nelson Piquet finished second for the Brabham team and Ferrari driver Patrick Tambay came in third.

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Sunday 14th August 1983

34 years ago

Alain Prost won the Austrian Grand Prix for Renault at Österreichring.

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Sunday 3rd June 1984

33 years ago

Alain Prost driving a McLaren-TAG Porsche MP4/2 won the Monaco Grand Prix. The race, held amidst heavy rain, was one of the most contentious in Formula One history. Pole-sitter Prost led the race from the start, while first corner contact between Ferrari's René Arnoux and the Renault of Derek Warwick pitched the Englishman's car into the fence on the outside of St. Devote and into the path of his team-mate Patrick Tambay. Both drivers suffered leg injuries, Warwick bruised his left leg while Tambay broke his leg after his car's suspension punched through the carbon fibre monocoque, causing him to miss the next round in Canada.

Alain Prost

Alain Prost

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Friday 29th March 1985

32 years ago

Production of the Sinclair C5, a small one-person battery electric vehicle, technically an "electrically assisted pedal cycle", was suspended due to financial difficulties. It was the culmination of Sir Clive Sinclair's long-running interest in electric vehicles. Although widely described as an "electric car", Sinclair characterised it as a "vehicle, not a car". Sinclair had become one of the UK's best-known millionaires, and earned a knighthood, on the back of the highly successful Sinclair Research range of home computers in the early 1980s. He hoped to repeat his success in the electric vehicle market, which he saw as ripe for a new approach. The C5 emerged from an earlier project to produce a Renault Twizy-style electric car called the C1. After a change in the law, prompted by lobbying from bicycle manufacturers, Sinclair developed the C5 as an electrically powered tricycle with a polypropylene body and a chassis designed by Lotus Cars. It was intended to be the first in a series of increasingly ambitious electric vehicles, but in the event the planned development of the followup C10 and C15 electric cars never got further than the drawing board. On 10 January 1985, the C5 was unveiled at a glitzy launch event but it received a less than enthusiastic reception from the British media. Its sales prospects were blighted by poor reviews and safety concerns expressed by consumer and motoring organisations. The vehicle's limitations – a short range, a maximum speed of only 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), a battery that ran down quickly and a lack of weatherproofing – made it impractical for most people's needs. It was marketed as an alternative to cars and bicycles, but ended up appealing to neither group of owners, and it was not available in shops until several months after its launch. Within three months of the launch, production had been slashed by 90%. Sales never picked up despite Sinclair's optimistic forecasts and production ceased entirely by August 1985. Out of 14,000 C5s made, only 5,000 were sold before its manufacturer, Sinclair Vehicles, went into receivership. The C5 became known as "one of the great marketing bombs of postwar British industry" and a "notorious ... example of failure". Despite its commercial failure, the C5 went on to become a cult item for collectors. Thousands of unsold C5s were purchased by investors and sold for hugely inflated prices – as much as £5,000, compared to the original retail value of £399. Enthusiasts have established owners' clubs and some have modified their vehicles substantially, adding monster wheels, jet engines, and high-powered electric motors to propel their C5s at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour (240 km/h).

Sinclair C5

Sinclair C5

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Friday 27th December 1985

31 years ago

Jean Rondeau (39), the only man to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a car bearing his own name, died when the street car he was a passenger in was hit by a train. Rondeau drove briefly in Formula Renault before moving to saloon cars. He raced a handful of Le Mans events as a guest driver before forming the Inaltera team in 1976. After the wallpaper company withdrew its sponsorship, Rondeau went alone with his Ford-powered GTP cars in 1978, scoring a coup by hiring Henri Pescarolo for his team in 1979. Rondeau and Jean-Pierre Jassaud took victory in the 1980 24 Hours of Le Mans after fighting hard against the Porshe 908/80 of Jacky Ickx and Reinhold Joest.

Jean Rondeau

Jean Rondeau

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Wednesday 9th April 1986

31 years ago

The French government ruled against the privatisation of leading French carmaker Renault. The privatisation of Renault, France's second largest carmaker to PSA Peugeot, has remained a highly debated issue since the 1986 decision. In 1994, the government sold shares of Renault to the public for the first time at 165 francs per share. The sale dramatically increased the company's revenue, but the French government remained the majority shareholder. Between 1996 and 1997, the market for cars in Europe grew precipitously, with the most marked increases in France. Renault, often scorned for its "public sector" policies, failed to capitalise on the growing markets. Instead foreign competitors like Volkswagen and Fiat took advantage. In 1996, Renault lost over $800 million. Renault and Peugeot were the two weakest of Europe's Big Seven carmakers. Economists blame the French carmakers lack of success on its protectionist policies, and more specifically on the unwillingness of PSA Peugeot and Renault to merge, a manoeuvre that would radically lower production costs for both auto-making giants. The question remains whether or not the government will fully privatise Renault. With economic boundaries in Europe falling rapidly, the days of France's nationally run car company may be numbered.

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Monday 17th November 1986

31 years ago

Georges Besse (58), who had halved Renault’s deficit, was assassinated outside his Paris home. Besse's killers rode up on a motorcycle as he emerged from his chauffeur-driven automobile. The car chief was shot in the head and chest and died where he fell on the pavement. Leaflets by the militant anarchist organisation Action Directe were sent three months later. The organization claimed responsibility for the murder, stating the murder was in retaliation for his reforms of the financially stricken automaker Renault which involved laying off a large number of workers. However, the Action Directe members denied any responsibility during their trial. Two women, Nathalie Menigon and Joelle Aubron, were charged with his murder in March 1987 and were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989. Two other Action Directe members, Jean-Marc Rouillan and Georges Cipriani, were convicted as accomplices and also sentenced to life imprisonment. Renault's car assembly plant in Douai in northern France, was renamed in Besses's honour.

Georges Besse

Georges Besse

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Monday 9th March 1987

30 years ago

Lee Iacocca announced that the Chrysler Corporation and Renault had signed an agreement whereby Chrysler would purchase and absorb American Motors.

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Sunday 23rd August 1987

30 years ago

Didier Pironi (35) was killed during a powerboat race in the UK. During his career he competed in 72 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, driving for Tyrrell (1978–79), Ligier (1980) and Ferrari (1981–1982). Pironi found himself at the centre of one of the biggest team disputes in Formula One history when he disobeyed team orders to steal a last-gasp victory from Gilles Villeneuve at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix. An enraged Villeneuve vowed never to speak to Pironi again and was killed trying to take pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder two weeks later. Pironi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978 driving a Renault Alpine A442B.

Didier Pironi

Didier Pironi

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Sunday 14th August 1988

29 years ago

Enzo Ferrari, founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari automobile marque, died in Maranello, Italy, aged 90. Enzo grew up with little formal education. At the age of 10 he witnessed Felice Nazzaro's win at the 1908 Circuit di Bologna, an event that inspired him to become a racing driver. During World War I he was assigned to the third Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. His father Alfredo, as well as his older brother, Alfredo Jr., died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became severely sick himself in the 1918 flu pandemic and was consequently discharged from Italian service.Following the family's carpentry business collapse, Ferrari started searching for a job in the car industry. He unsuccessfully volunteered his services to FIAT in Turin, eventually settling for a job as test-driver for C.M.N. (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), a Milan-based car manufacturer which redesigned used truck bodies into small passenger cars. He was later promoted to race car driver and made his competitive debut in the 1919 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb race, where he finished fourth in the three-litre category at the wheel of a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder C.M.N. 15/20. On November 23 of the same year, he took part in the Targa Florio but had to retire after his car's fuel tank developed a leak. The prancing horse emblem was created when Italian fighter pilot Francesco Baracca was shot down during World War I. Baracca gave Enzo Ferrari a necklace with the prancing horse on it prior to takeoff. Baracca was tragically shot down and killed. In memory of his death, Enzo Ferrari used the prancing horse to create the emblem that would become the world famous Ferrari shield. However the world first saw this emblem on an Alfa Romeo as Ferrari was still tied up with Alfa Romeo. It was not until 1947 that the shield was first seen on a Ferrari. This was the birth of Ferrari. In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, a success that encouraged Alfa Romeo to offer him a chance to race in much more prestigious competitions. Deeply shocked by the death of Antonio Ascari in 1925, Ferrari turned down the opportunity to focus instead on the management and development of the factory Alfa cars, eventually building up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until 1932, before he left Alfa Romeo to found Scuderia Ferrari. Alfa Romeo agreed to partner Ferrari's racing team until 1933, when financial constraints forced them to withdraw their support – a decision subsequently retracted thanks to the intervention of Pirelli. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers, the team struggled to compete with Auto Union and Mercedes. Although the German manufacturers dominated the era, Ferrari's team achieved a notable victory in 1935 when Tazio Nuvolari beat Rudolf Caracciola and Bernd Rosemeyer on their home turf at the German Grand Prix. In 1937 Alfa Romeo decided to regain full control of its racing division, retaining Ferrari as Sporting Director. Unhappy with the arrangement, Ferrari left and founded Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. Although a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing cars for four years, Ferrari managed to manufacture two cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. With the outbreak of World War II in 1943, Ferrari's factory was forced to undertake war production for Mussolini's fascist government. Following Allied bombing of the factory, Ferrari relocated from Modena to Maranello. At the end of the conflict, Ferrari decided to start making cars bearing his name, and founded Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947. The team's open-wheel debut took place in Turin in 1948 and the first win came later in the year in Lago di Garda. The first major victory came at the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a Ferrari 166M driven by Luigi Chinetti and (Baron Selsdon of Scotland) Peter Mitchell-Thomson. In 1950 Ferrari enrolled in the newly-born Formula 1 World Championship and is the only team to remain present since its introduction. Ferrari won his first Grand Prix with José Froilán González at Silverstone in 1951. The first championship came in 1952, with Alberto Ascari, a task that was repeated one year later. In 1953 Ferrari made his only attempt at the Indianapolis 500 Miles. In order to finance his racing endeavours in Formula One as well as in other events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans, the company started selling sports cars. Ferrari's decision to continue racing in the Mille Miglia brought the company new victories and greatly increased public recognition. However, increasing speeds, poor roads, and nonexistent crowd protection eventually spelled disaster for both the race and Ferrari. During the 1957 Mille Miglia, near the town of Guidizzolo, a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335S driven by Alfonso de Portago was traveling at 250 km/h when it blew a tyre and crashed into the roadside crowd, killing de Portago, his co-driver and nine spectators, five of whom were children. In response, Enzo Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were charged with manslaughter in a lengthy criminal prosecution that was finally dismissed in 1961. Many of Ferrari's greatest victories came at Le Mans (9 victories, including six in a row 1960–65) and in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s, with the successes of Juan Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961) and John Surtees (1964). By the end of the 1960s, increasing financial difficulties as well as the problem of racing in many categories and having to meet new safety and clean air emissions requirement for road car production and development, caused Enzo Ferrari to start looking for a business partner. In 1969 Ferrari sold 50% of his company to FIAT, with the caveat that he would remain 100% in control of the racing activities and that FIAT would pay sizable subsidy till his death for use of his Maranello and Modena production plants. Ferrari had previously offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew once he realised that he would not have been able to retain independent control of the company racing program. Ferrari became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat's holding rose to 90%). Following the agreement with FIAT, Ferrari stepped down as managing director of the road car division in 1971. In 1974 Ferrari appointed Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as Sporting Director/Formula One Team manager. (Montezemolo eventually assumed the presidency of Ferrari in 1992, a post he held until September 2014). Clay Regazzoni was deputy champion in 1974, while Niki Lauda won the championship in 1975 and 1977. After those successes and another title for Jody Scheckter in 1979, the company's Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums. In 1981 Ferrari attempted to revive his team's fortunes by switching to turbo engines. In 1982, the second turbo-powered Ferrari, the 126C2, showed great promise. However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in May, and team mate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty back straight at Hockenheim in August after hitting the Renault of Alain Prost. Pironi was leading the driver's championship at the time; he would lose the lead as he sat out the remaining races. The Scuderia went on to win the Constructors Championship in at the end of the season and in 1983, but the team would not see championship glory again until Ferrari's death in 1988. The final race win for the team he saw was when Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto scored a 1-2 finish at the final round of the 1987 season in Australia.

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari

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Thursday 17th November 1988

29 years ago

34 students of the École supérieure de commerce (France) crammed themselves into a Renault Espace to set a new world record.

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Thursday 4th October 1990

27 years ago

The Mercedes 500E (W124) was formally presented at the Paris Motor Show. Assembled by Porsche, the limousine delivered some 326 hp with a 5.0 litre four-valve, V8 engine. The Renault Clio was also introduced at the show and went on sale in France soon after, although it was not available in the rest of Europe until March 1991. Also unveiled was the Peugeot 206 and the Citroen Visa GTI.

Mercedes 500E interior

Mercedes 500E interior

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Sunday 1st March 1992

25 years ago

The first round of the season at Kyalami was won by Nigel Mansell in his Williams Renault in front of a crowd of 80,000. There was controversy when Andrea Sassetti, the new owner of the hapless Andrea Moda team, was told to pay US$100,000 to enter his team. He disputed this as he had already purchased an existing team; he was forced to pay up despite both the March and Fondmetal teams, who were in a similar situation, being exempt from the fee.

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Thursday 5th March 1992

25 years ago

The new Corona made its European debut at Geneva Auto Show as Carina E, which replaced the Carina II. The Carina E was built at Toyota's factory in Burnaston, UK. The UK produced Carina E is notorious to have some parts of slightly lower quality than the one produced in Japan. The Renault Safrane also made its world debut at the show.

Toyota Carina E

Toyota Carina E

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Monday 5th October 1992

25 years ago

The two door front-engined Renault Twingo was launched. Twingo is a portmanteau of the words Twist, Swing and Tango. In April 1993, the Twingo launched with only one trim level, and four exterior colours: coral red, Indian yellow, coriander green and overseas blue. The car retailed at a price of 55,000FF. In June 1994, new exterior colours introduced along with minor interior changes. Four months later, the Twingo Easy model was launched, with a semi automatic gearbox. In September 1995, the first of many special Twingo editions launched, while in-built airbags become optional. In July 1996, a new 1149cc engine (from the Clio) was fitted to replace the previous engine from the Renault 5. Also, various improvements made including the addition of a third brake light. Two years later, the Twingo underwent its first major restyling revisions to the interior and dashboard. The front and rear lights were revised, along with the front orange indicator lights being merged into the headlamp housing. Two months later, the top-of-the-range Twingo Initiale model launched. In September 2000, the Twingo underwent its second major restyling. Additions included larger 14" wheels, revised door trims with larger door pockets, a black trunk-opener lever (instead of shiny silver) and cup holders in front of the gearstick. December 2000 brought a new 1.2 litre 16v engine launched, with 75 hp (56 kW). In April 2001, a new semi automatic gearbox launched, called Quickshift. Additional revisions followed in September 2002, including new interior trims and wheel covers. September 2004 marked the third major Twingo revision. The Renault logo was fitted to the boot-lid, side rubbing strips were added and a new range of exterior colours launched. As of June 2007, Twingo production and sales ended in Europe, to be replaced by the Twingo 2.

Renault Twingo

Renault Twingo

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Monday 6th September 1993

24 years ago

Automakers Renault of France and Volvo of Sweden announced a merger; however, Volvo cancelled the deal the following December.

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Sunday 25th December 1994

22 years ago

Pierre Dreyfus (87), former Chairman of Renault (1955-75), died. He secured his reputation in the top job at Renault by successfully overseeing the launch and production of a model developed under his predecessor, the Dauphine. By the end of 1958, with Dreyfus less than three years into his time at the top, a million Renault 4CVs and half a million Dauphines had been sold. The following year, 1959, Renault ranked as the world's sixth largest auto-maker.[1] The collapse of North American demand for the Dauphine triggered a crisis for the company that was well-publicised, especially in the USA, with unsold Dauphines on North American docksides adding to the half million unsold Detroit built products clogging the US auto-market by the end of 1960: for Renault salvation arrived just in time in the form of the Renault 4, developed under Dreyfus and built at the rate of 1,000 cars a day by the end of 1962. During Dreyfus's twenty years in charge, Renault went on to consolidate its position as France's top selling car maker, gaining particular recognition in the 1960s for popularising front wheel drive hatchback sedans across Europe, most notably the 4, 5 and 16 models. During the early years of the Mitterrand presidency, Dreyfus became active on the political scene, serving briefly as Industry Minister between June 1981 and June 1982 under prime minister Pierre Mauroy.

Pierre Dreyfus

Pierre Dreyfus

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Wednesday 29th March 1995

22 years ago

The Rover 400 was officially launched, and was met with a sense of muted antipathy from the press. It was clear to even the most casual observer that this car was almost pure Honda in its design – in fact, to more seasoned observers, the changes that Rover had made were disappointing in their ineffectiveness. In a nutshell, the new mid-sized Rover appeared to be almost as much a Honda (as opposed to a British car) as the original joint-venture – the Triumph Acclaim – had been back in 1981. Many questions were soon asked of Rover: Why such a disappointing design? Had it not been for BMW, would this have been the shape of Rovers in the future? Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion.Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. As it was, there was a lot to applaud the Rover 400 for, though: the car marked the first application for the new, enlarged version of the K-series engine – now cleverly expanded to 1589cc. Refinement and performance of this new version was certainly up to scratch, and like its smaller brother, it proved to be more than a match for its Honda counterpart. This change in engine policy meant that in terms of petrol powered units, the range was now powered entirely by British engines (1.6-litre automatic, aside), whilst the diesel versions were now L-series powered (as opposed to Peugeot XUD-powered). The 400 range offered a wide variety of power options – 1.4-litres through to the 2.0-litre T-series engine – and even though the entry-level model was somewhat smaller than its rivals, Rover countered the lack of cubic capacity with a high specific output. Although the 136bhp version of the T-series engine found a natural home in the Rover 400, it was the 2.0-litre version of the KV6 engine (codename Merlin) that really excited the company. Producing a healthy 150bhp, the KV6 was under development and running in Rover 400 “mules” even before the car was launched – but it would not be until the arrival of the facelifted Rover 45 model in 1999 that a V6-powered Rover midliner entered the sales catalogue. Be that as it may, the highlight of the K-series was somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the car. The people that mattered – the customers – found the Rover 400 somewhat disappointing and overpriced. If the premium pricing policy seemed like a winner with the classy and compact R8, its replacement certainly did not appear to have the looks to justify the continuation of this policy. Of course, Rover countered this allegation by telling everyone to wait for the saloon version, due in early 1996, but it did not ease the fact that the new 400 hatchback was not what the public wanted at the time, and was certainly not offered at a favourable price. Autocar magazine was reasonably pleased with the 416i and reported so in their road test. The verdict was lukewarm – and they gave the car qualified approval: “with looks that will be routinely mistaken for Honda’s new five-door Civic, this latest 400 needed to be convincingly different beneath the badge. This it achieves by a whisker. With that sweet spinning, characterful K-series engine and an outstanding urban ride quality, Rover has created a car that feels genuinely unique, not just a cynical badge engineered Honda. Sure, Peugeot’s 306 still has the dynamic measure of this car, but compared with the dull homogeneity of the competition from Ford and Vauxhall, the 416i offers up just enough “typically Rover” character, just enough specialness to raise it above the common horde. But only just.” At least Autocar were realistic in their choice of rivals for this car, plucking them from the small/medium arena. In Rover’s launch advertising for the 400, they pitched it against such luminaries as the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna and Citroën Xantia. Interestingly, it compared very well to all-comers in this class on the handpicked “ride quality” index figure. All but the Citroën, that is. Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first.Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first. Sales of the Rover 400 in the UK were buoyant, and in direct comparison with the combined sales of the outgoing R8 400 and Montego, they appeared to be quite good. But the comparison is certainly muddied by the fact that the 400 was designed to fight in the “D class” rather than the upper end of the “C class”, as marketeers liked to refer to the differing market sectors. So in the heart of the UK market, where Ford and Vauxhall continued to make hay, Rover continued to appear almost mortally weak. In the first full year of sales, the 400, including the stylish saloon version, grabbed 3.15 per cent of the market – and although Rover continued to make noises about not chasing volume sales, the cold hard facts were that after allowing for Honda’s royalty payments on each 400 sold, profit margins were not huge. Export sales continued to make reasonable headway, so even though sales in the home market were suffering, Rover’s production volumes remained at a reasonable level – no doubt helped by the BMW connection. However, exports are affected by the fluctuations of the currency markets, and as we shall see, Rover and BMW would suffer terribly from these in later years. In 1997 and 1998, the Rover 400 captured 2.85 and 2.55 per cent of the UK market respectively, maintaining a regular top ten presence. By the following year, however, this had collapsed disastrously to 1.51 per cent. What had caused this collapse? Well, the product had never captured the public’s imagination in the way that the R8 had, but also, following the change in government (May 1997) and the strengthening of sterling against European currencies, the price of imported cars had become so much cheaper in relation to that of the domestically produced Rover. This allowed companies such as Renault (with the Megane) and Volkswagen (with the Golf) to make serious inroads into the Rover’s market. What made the situation even worse for Rover was the flipside: the price of UK cars became more expensive in export markets, so in order to remain price competitive, Rover needed to drop their prices to such an extent that they began to make serious losses. By 1999, BMW had begun to take emergency measures for Rover – and the first of those, was the replacement of the 400 by the 45 in December 1999.

Rover 400

Rover 400

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Sunday 10th March 1996

21 years ago

A feast for Australian Formula One fans as the country hosted the first race of the season, less than four months after it had staged the last grand prix of the 1995 season. Damon Hill in his Williams Renault won the race but only because team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, on his F1 debut, led most of the way before being forced to retire with an oil leak. "I am sure everyone will agree Jacques was the moral winner, "Hill, who equalled his father's record of 14 grand prix wins, said. He also revealed a loose stone had worked its way into his overalls and he spent much of the race shifting in his seat to try to dislodge it. "Every time I moved it slipped somewhere else even less comfortable." It was also a memorable day for Martin Brundle who walked away from a spectacular 170mph opening-lap crash which left his Jordan ripped in two. He was able to take his place at the re-start in his spare car, but spun off on the opening lap. "I knew the car was a write-off," Brundle said, "but I hadn't travelled halfway round the world to sit and watch the race."

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Sunday 25th August 1996

21 years ago

Pit lane errors by the Williams team handed the Belgian Grand Prix to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill had locked out the front row and although Schumacher split the pair at the start Villeneuve had the faster car. However, a third of the way into the race the throttle on Jos Verstappen's Arrows pinned wide open and he crashed at 135mph. A safety car was called out and Williams radioed Villeneuve to come in, but somewhere over the vast expanse of the Spa circuit the message got lost and Villeneuve stayed out on track. As a result Schumacher took the lead and with Villeneuve concerned about some knocking noises from his Renault V10, he settled for second. After the race an elated Schumacher said: "I would not have bet anything for this to happen. There was no way I thought I could win this race. Spa is lucky for me."

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Sunday 17th January 1999

18 years ago

The French car producer Renault acquired a 20% interest in the Japanese Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

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Thursday 11th March 1999

18 years ago

The Renault Avantime, one-box design without B-pillars — styled by Patrick Le Quément was unveiled at the Geneva motor Show. The Avantime was designed to combine the space and design of an MPV with the style of a 2+2 Coupé. Renault sold just 8,545 in two years before pulling the plug.

Renault Avantime

Renault Avantime

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Tuesday 12th December 2000

16 years ago

Vauxhall announced that its Luton car plant would close in 2002, with the final vehicle being made in March 2002, but production would still continue at the plant in Ellesmere Port. Manufacture of vans (sold under the Vauxhall, Opel and in some cases Renault badges throughout Europe) continued at the IBC Vehicles plant in Luton.

Vauxhall in Luton

Vauxhall in Luton

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Tuesday 2nd January 2001

16 years ago

Renault V. I. (including Mack Trucks, but not Renault S. A.'s stake in Irisbus) was sold to Volvo, which they renamed Renault Trucks the following year. As a result, the mother company Renault S. A. became AB Volvo's biggest shareholder, with a 20% stake, shares and voting rights.

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Monday 5th February 2001

16 years ago

Flavio Braitore revealed that Fernando Alonso would make his F1 debut with Minardi. Briatore gave him a few tests in a Benetton to make sure he could get an F1 super-license and then persuaded Paul Stoddart to give him a drive at the small Italian team. Alonso had completed just two seasons out of karts at the time and finished a respectable fourth in the competitive F3000 series the year before. He drove a full season with Minardi, failing to score any points but putting in some solid performances in an uncompetitive car. A year's testing followed before he secured a race drive for Briatore's Renault team in 2003. By 2006 he was a double world champion.

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Tuesday 11th September 2001

16 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show opened to international media, with a series of concept and production vehicle debuts kicking off in the early morning. First news of terrorist attacks in the US came in the early afternoon. Large display screens were switched over to news coverage, opening celebrations were cancelled, and the usual upbeat presentations were absent for the rest of the show. MG Rover Group unveiled its stunning new luxury high performance sports coupe - the MG X80. Styled by MG Rover's world renowned design director Peter Stevens, the £55,000 MG X80 had a high-technology super-formed aluminum body, mounted to a steel box section chassis. Skoda revealed its new model, the Superb. There was a large number of concept vehicles, including the Citroën C-Crosser, SEAT Tango, Renault Talisman, Jaguar R Coupe, Ford Fusion and Audi Avantissimo. Top production car debuts included the BMW 7 Series, Ford Fiesta, Citroën C3, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Lamborghini Murcielago.

MG X80

MG X80

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Saturday 17th November 2001

16 years ago

Flavio Briatore announced that would remain in charge of the Renault Sport F1 team for the next three years. Briatore said he had the agreement of Renault Sport chairman Patrick Faure. "I have no intention of letting go," said Briatore. "I am an integral part of Renault. Having an Italian boss doesn't please everybody, I know, but even Ferrari has a French boss. I am their choice and today things are going very well." He eventually left Renault under a cloud in 2009 in the fallout from the Crashgate affair.

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Sunday 26th May 2002

15 years ago

David Coulthard sat on pole and held off Michael Schumacher to win the Monaco Grand Prix in a time of 1:45:39, only 1.05 seconds in front of Schumacher. Ralf Schumacher was third in the Williams after starting second. Trulli was fourth in the Renault coming up from seventh on the grid, though 1 lap down from the winner. Fisichella was fifth in his Jordan after starting eleventh, HHF was sixth in the Arrows. Fastest lap went to Barrichello but he was just out of the points in seventh.

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Thursday 19th December 2002

14 years ago

Will Hoy (50) a British racing driver and the 1991 British Touring Car Champion, died after a short illness - an inoperable brain tumour. Hoy's motorsport career began in karting in the late sixties and he first came to prominence in Clubmans sportscars, in which he won a hat-trick of titles between 1982-1984. Hoy then graduated to international sportscars achieving some notable successes both in Europe and Japan. Throughout the nineties, Hoy was a leading light in the prestigious British Touring Car Championship racing for BMW, Toyota, Renault and Ford factory teams. He contested more than 150 BTCC rounds between 1989 and 1999, winning nine races and taking the outright title in 1991. As a qualified chartered surveyor, Hoy combined his racing with a career working for Bernard Thorpe and then DTZ. More recently he had also started making a name for himself as a TV presenter providing expert analysis to ITV's coverage of the 2002 BTCC.

Will Hoy

Will Hoy

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Monday 10th February 2003

14 years ago

Max Mosley warned that Formula One couldn't rely on manufacturer teams alone and needed to become more accessible for independents. He said that the likes of BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes and Renault had a proven record of pulling out of the sport and truly independent teams like Williams and Jordan should be helped out. The comments were largely ignored but six years later Mosley's vision had come true as BMW, Ford, Honda and Toyota had all left the sport.

Max Mosley - 2003

Max Mosley - 2003

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Sunday 20th April 2003

14 years ago

Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2002 won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Kimi Räikkönen, driving for McLaren, finished second with Rubens Barrichello third in the other Ferrari. The remaining points-scoring positions were filled by Ralf Schumacher (Williams), David Coulthard (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Renault), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Jenson Button (BAR). Schumacher's victory for Ferrari was his and the team's first of the season. Schumacher and his brother Ralf raced despite the death of their mother Elisabeth before the Grand Prix. The brothers led the field at the start with Ralf leading having overtaken Michael and held the lead until the first round of pit stops. As a consequence of the race, Räikkönen increased his lead in the World Drivers' Championship, over team-mate David Coulthard to 13 points with Schumacher climbing to third. In the World Constructors Championship, McLaren increased their lead to 16 points with Ferrari overtaking Renault for second.

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Sunday 4th May 2003

14 years ago

Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2003-GA won the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona from pole position. Fernando Alonso finished second driving for the Renault team with Rubens Barrichello third in the other Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher, Spanish Grand Prix 2003

Michael Schumacher, Spanish Grand Prix 2003

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Friday 13th June 2003

14 years ago

The first Goodwood Festival of Speed was held, in the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, UK. In the summer of 1936, Freddie March - the 9th Duke of Richmond - hosted a private hillclimb for the Lancia Car Club in the grounds of Goodwood House. In 1993, his grandson, the present Earl of March hosted his own Hillclimb and created the Festival of Speed. It all kicks off with Press & Preview Day on Thursday for the latest road cars, while the rest of the weekend sees heritage cars taking on the 1.16 mile Hillclimb, which challenges the world's greatest drivers and riders, including today's Formula 1 and Moto GP stars. The track has an elevation change of 92.7 metres, for an average gradient of 4.9%. The record time for the hillclimb was set in 1999 when Nick Heidfeld drove a McLaren MP4/13 Formula One car up the hill in 41.6 seconds (100.385 mph). For safety reasons Formula One cars are no longer allowed to do official timed runs, and often focus on demonstrations that are spectacular rather than fast. In 2006 Heikki Kovalainen completed the course in a Renault R25 F1 car and was unofficially timed below 40 seconds. From 2000 to 2004 this was a downhill race for gravity-powered cars. Starting from just below the hill-climb finish line, to a finish line in front of the house. It included entries from Cosworth, Prodrive, and other top companies. With some famous riders/drivers piloting them, including Barry Sheene. However, there were frequent accidents. Despite an official cap on the cost of cars, the unofficial costs were becoming too high, so it did not return in 2005.

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Sunday 15th June 2003

14 years ago

Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari F2003-GA won the Canadian Grand Prix, despite nursing an ailing car home towards the ends of the race, with the Williamses of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya right behind him, and the Renault of Fernando Alonso not far behind them. This was the fourth time that the Schumacher brothers had finished 1-2, having become the first siblings to do so at the 2001 Canadian Grand Prix.

Start of the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal

Start of the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal

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Tuesday 9th September 2003

14 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show, opened it’s doors, with the simultaneous launch of the 5th generation of VW Golf and Opel Astra. Ford unveiled the first production models based on next year’s new Focus platform – the Mazda 3 and new Volvo S40 sedan. The 2003 Show was also a significant event for BMW, with the debut of the new 5-Series saloon and 6-Series coupe, while the X5 was updated for 2004 and joined by the smaller, all-new X3. Mercedes showed the production version of the SLR McLaren; Jaguar the X-Type Estate and Maserati returned to the luxury saloon fold with the premiere of the new Quattroporte. Leading the concept car debuts from Europe were the Citroen C-Airlounge, Renault Be-Bop, Peugeot 407 Elixir, SEAT Altea, and Saab 9-3 Sporthatch, together with surprises from Lancia with the Fulvia Coupe concept and Skoda with the Roomster. Japanese makers were also strongly featured with concepts such as the Toyota CS&S, Nissan Dunehawk, Mazda Kusabi, Mitsubishi ‘i’, and Suzuki S2.

VW Golf (5th generation)

VW Golf (5th generation)

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Friday 14th November 2003

14 years ago

The BMW Williams team announced that Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jr would test for the team at Jerez de Frontera in the first week of December to evaluate whether either had the potential to be test drivers in 2004. Jaguar Racing also announced that it would test Red Bull backed Christian Klien and Townsend Bell at Valencia at the end of the month. Both Rosberg and Klien went on to race for Williams and Jaguar Racing while Piquet Jr secured a Renault drive in 2008.

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Sunday 23rd May 2004

13 years ago

The Monaco Grand Prix (formally the LII Grand Prix de Monaco) was held at the Circuit de Monaco, contested over 77 laps. The race was won by the Renault driver Jarno Trulli. The BAR driver, Jenson Button finished in second position, one second behind Trulli. Rubens Barrichello took the third and final podium spot for Ferrari.

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Wednesday 2nd June 2004

13 years ago

Romania’s President Ion Iliescu unveiled the new Logan sedan, a joint venture between Renault and Romania’s Dacia. Starting prices were around $6,100. In 2007 nearly 80,000 Logans were sold in Western Europe.

Dacia Logan sedan

Dacia Logan sedan

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Sunday 4th July 2004

13 years ago

Michael Schumacher used a unique four-stop strategy to beat Fernando Alonso's Renault to claim the French Grand Prix for Ferrari. Rubens Barrichello finished third in his Ferrari, having overtaken Jarno Trulli on the last corners of the last lap.

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Wednesday 21st July 2004

13 years ago

The last Dacia models of the 1300 series rolled out the gates of the Mioveni production facility, just one month before their 35th anniversary. The "1300" stands for the engine displacement. The very last Dacia 1310 (saloon version), number 1,979,730, was kept in the Dacia Museum. The Romanian government of the 1960s had decided to acquire the tooling and basic design of a modern, western automobile, in order to offer their own car to the Romanian people. Terms stated that the vehicle had better not be expensive, large enough for a family, and had to be powered by an engine no larger than 1.3 litres. Offers came from Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Austin and others, but the winner was the Renault 12. The decision towards the French car was probably political to a large extent but sound, nonetheless. Most of the resulting vehicles were sold to consumers in the Communist Eastern bloc and in export markets such as South America, Canada, China, or North Korea, but also Great Britain or the Netherlands. When automobile production started at the Mioveni factory, the Renault 12 was but a prototype, for which reason, Renault offered CKD kits and tooling for the older Renault 8 Major, as a temporary replacement, resulting in the Dacia 1100, for a few years until the much awaited Romanian people's car would arrive. Both the R12 and its licensed copy, were launched in 1969. During the first few years of production, the plant assembled CKD kits imported from France. At the time of its launch, the 1300 was a modern car offering good comfort, safety, good performance and reliability, and even more so by eastern standards of the time, set by 1960's and 70's Skodas, Ladas, Moskwich, Wartburgs and other eastern block industry creations.The 1300 was subject to multiple face lifts in an effort to maintain consumers' interest in the model, but the basic design was kept for its entire 35-year lifespan. Although performance and fuel consumption were gradually improved, quality didn't always meet the standard once they had stopped importing CKD kits. Body panel corrosion became the model's number one problem. Air conditioning, airbags and anti-lock brakes, were never offered. Multiple pick-ups derived from the original sedan and estate bodies, but also a less popular 2-door coupe and an even rarer liftback. In 1982, its name was changed into Dacia 1310 and later also came "1410", "1210" and a few others.[7] New versions of Dacia Pick-Up were introduced starting 1981. In 1983 the whole range was facelifted for the 1984 model year. A coupé version of the car, the 1410 Sport, with two doors and a lowered roof, was also released in 1983. In 1985 the drop-side coupé utility (pick up) was introduced and in 1987 the Dacia 1320 liftback. In 1989 the production for the facelifted 1310 sedan, van and estate was over, although the pick up continued until 1990. The 1320 stopped in 1990. In 1989, a new generation Dacia 1310 was launched in estate and sedan versions. It was a minor modification of the previous generation with new headlights. The liftback named Dacia 1325 Liberta was introduced in 1990. The 1310 van was launched in 1990 and the coupé utility (pickup) versions in 1992. A double cab version of the pickup was introduced, and later also a king cab version. The fully facelifted Dacia 13xx range was introduced in 1993. Designed in the 1960s, the model was long in the tooth by now and its chassis was no longer able to meet safety standards of the 1980s and 90s. Therefore, Dacia started design for a replacement in the 1980s. However, financial and political setbacks only allowed the replacement to be launched in 1994, by which time it was already outdated, as the Dacia Nova. Later evolving into Dacia SupeRNova and Dacia Solenza. Although faster and displaying better road manners, the Nova never replaced the 1310 range, due to its higher price, smaller interior and other disappointing factors. Nova, SuperNova and Solenza only came in a liftback body. The true replacement only came in 2004 with the Logan. In an effort to keep up with modern standards, the last version was equipped with fuel injection system and a catalytic converter, meeting Euro2 emission standards.The model scored solid sale numbers right up to its last day of production, mainly due to its low price, value for money, easy and cheap maintenance. The sedan ("Berlina") and the estate ("Break") had €4,100 and €4,250 price tags respectively, for the year 2004. The "Pick-Up" range ended production in 2006. Dacia Logan replaced the 1310 range in 2004.

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Friday 10th September 2004

13 years ago

The Renault Modus supermini hit UK showrooms. Originally marketed as "a higher-range alternative to the Twingo and Clio", it was targeted at people who wanted the practicality and versatility of the larger Renault Scénic but without the added size. The Clio platform that spawned the Modus also gave rise to revised Nissan Micra and its monospace relative, the Nissan Note. In December 2011, Renault announced that the Laguna, Espace, Kangoo, Modus, and Wind lines would be axed in the United Kingdom as part of a cost-cutting plan to help the company earn a profit.

Renault Modus

Renault Modus

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Friday 24th September 2004

13 years ago

The Paris Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show) opened its doors to the press and featured a wealth of new concept and production cars. There were a number of major releases from Ford, BMW and Mercedes and, naturally, the French makers Peugeot, Citroën and Renault featured strongly as well. World debuts included the Alfa 147, Aston Martin DBR9, Audi A4, BMW 1 Series, BMW M5, Citroën C4, Ferrari F430, Ford Focus, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Sportage, Mazda 5, Mercedes A-Class, Mitsubishi Colt CZ3, Opel Astra GTC, Peugeot 1007, Porsche Boxster, Renault Mégane Trophy, Škoda Octavia Estate, Suzuki Swift and Toyota Prius GT.

BMW 1-Series

BMW 1-Series

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Sunday 6th March 2005

12 years ago

Giancarlo Fisichella in a Renault R25 won the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne. The first attempt to start the race was yellow flagged, due to the stalled McLaren of Kimi Räikkönen, who would eventually start the abbreviated race (57 laps from 58) in pit lane. When the red lights did finally go out, front row starters Fisichella and Jarno Trulli protected their positions and led the rest of the field through the first lap. Starting third in his home grand prix, Mark Webber– in his Williams debut– was outsprinted to the first corner by David Coulthard's Red Bull. Rubens Barrichello and Fernando Alonso each moved up three spots on the first lap, showing more of their cars' true potential than what was seen in the rain-soaked qualifying. Sato made the best start, moving from last place to 14th. Jacques Villeneuve had the worst start– his first in the Sauber– as he dropped five positions on the opening lap after losing forward momentum in a first-corner position skirmish. As Fisichella and Trulli raced away at the front, Coulthard began to gradually fall back, holding up Webber, Nick Heidfeld (also making his Williams debut), Christian Klien, Juan Pablo Montoya and Barrichello. Several seconds further back was Villeneuve, struggling to hold off a charging Alonso, who was himself just ahead of Jenson Button and Ralf Schumacher (in his first start for Toyota). Close behind were Felipe Massa, Sato, the elder Schumacher, and Räikkönen, who doggedly pursued the champion but could not find a way past. The four rookies were a little further back: the two Jordans of Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan led the Minardi duo of Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers. Alonso passed Villeneuve, only to have the Canadian retake the position moments later. But just before the first round of pit stops, Alonso would finally find a way around the former champion, saving any podium hopes for the young Spaniard. While passing backmarkers on lap 15, Coulthard and Webber nearly collided with one another; Webber briefly went onto the grass, but no serious damage was done. After lap 17, unable to pull out of the pits due to a gearbox problem, Albers retired his Minardi, which had lost second gear as early as the formation lap. This was the only mechanical retirement of the afternoon. Fisichella remained firmly in command after his first pit stop, although he briefly relinquished the lead while refueling. Barrichello gained the most in the pits, as he moved up from eighth to fourth place; Alonso continued his hard charge, gaining four positions as well. However, Trulli's Toyota slowly began dropping back, getting passed again and again; it would later turn out to be a blistered rear tyre, which would affect him for the remainder of the race. Teammate Ralf Schumacher had a problem of his own, and was forced to pit twice in quick succession to tighten a loose safety harness. Räikkönen was able to get by the elder Schumacher into tenth (his starting grid position) and pull away from the champion in pursuit of Heidfeld. After Michael Schumacher's second stop, he emerged from the pitlane just ahead of Heidfeld, who thought he saw an opening going into the third turn. Schumacher, who momentarily lost sight of Heidfeld's Williams in his mirrors, closed the door on his fellow German, forcing him onto the grass. With no traction on the grass, Heidfeld braked in vain, sliding into the side of the F2004M, pushing both cars into the gravel. Heidfeld's race was finished; although Schumacher was able to get his Ferrari back on track, nevertheless he retired in the pits soon thereafter, due to collision damage. Montoya went onto the grass briefly at Turn Eight as he prepared to make his second call to pitlane; this, plus another off-track excursion while tangling with a backmarking rookie, cost him valuable time. When he later lost part of his rear deflector, Montoya eased up to finish the race and to preserve his Mercedes-Benz power plant for the next race. Teammate Räikkönen also lost a significant portion of his deflector, which became imbedded under his side barge board; mechanics were later seen removing it during a pit stop. After the second round of stops, the final order of finish was nearly determined. While most of the field slowed to conserve engines, Alonso continued pushing hard on Barrichello's heels. Barrichello, despite battling a brake balance problem, was able to answer the challenge, and held off Alonso for second. Fisichella, who flawlessly managed the gap to his nearest opponent all race long, easily took the chequered flag for his second career victory, with his only other victory coming for Jordan in 2003. He never put a foot wrong, and his R25 chassis, although not seriously challenged, performed flawlessly to claim the inaugural race of the season. Teammate Alonso clocked the fastest lap of the race, and was noticeably the fastest car on track for most of the event. Interestingly, both BARs pulled into the pits on the final lap of the race; by not officially finishing the event, they effectively exempted themselves from the new two-race engine rule. By taking advantage of this loophole in 2005 regulations, they were entitled to replace the cars' Honda engines in Malaysia without incurring any penalty. The loophole was immediately closed, as a car was in future required to have a genuine technical problem to be entitled to a new engine.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Australian Grand Prix  2005

Giancarlo Fisichella, Australian Grand Prix 2005

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Sunday 3rd April 2005

12 years ago

Fernando Alonso driving a Renault R25 won the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. Jarno Trulli finished in second place in a Toyota car and Kimi Räikkönen completed the podium in third position for McLaren.

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Sunday 24th April 2005

12 years ago

Fernando Alonso driving a Renault R25 won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

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Sunday 29th May 2005

12 years ago

The European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring was won by championship leader Fernando Alonso for the Renault team. McLaren driver Kimi Räikkönen almost won but crashed at the start of the final lap whilst leading, due to a suspension failure caused by heavily degraded tyres.

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Sunday 10th July 2005

12 years ago

Before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a minute of silence was held as a mark of respect for those who had lost their lives in the London bombings three days earlier. The race was won by Juan Pablo Montoya driving a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20. For the second consecutive race, Renault's Fernando Alonso took pole position while his championship rival, McLaren's Kimi Räikkönen, was demoted ten places on the grid following an engine failure. Räikkönen, who had originally qualified second with a time just 0.027 seconds slower than Alonso's, suffered this engine failure during Saturday free practice. This promoted BAR's Jenson Button, in his home race, to the front row, with the top ten being completed by Juan Pablo Montoya in the second McLaren, Jarno Trulli in the Toyota, Rubens Barrichello in the Ferrari, Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault, Takuma Sato in the second BAR, Ralf Schumacher in the second Toyota, Michael Schumacher in the second Ferrari, and Jacques Villeneuve in the Sauber. Jordan's Tiago Monteiro started at the rear of the grid after failing to set a time, following an engine failure during Friday practice. The weather was hot, with air temperature at 30 °C, and the track temperature at 45 °C as the cars completed the formation lap. Sato stalled as he came to the grid, but race director Charlie Whiting nonetheless started the race, with the safety car being deployed on lap 2 to allow the marshals to safely return the BAR to the pit lane. Sato would eventually rejoin the race, two laps behind the leaders. Montoya made a fast start, passing Button off the grid and then overtaking Alonso for the lead into Becketts. After the safety car period, Montoya retained the lead until the first round of pit stops, although Alonso remained no more than a second and a half behind as he and the Colombian traded fastest laps. Button held third, while Barrichello and Fisichella passed a slow-starting Trulli, who in turn was holding up Michael Schumacher. Räikkönen, already up four places, was thus able to close up behind Schumacher and Trulli, but was unable to overtake them until the pit stops. The race was won by Juan Pablo Montoya, his first victory for McLaren. Montoya made his first pit stop on lap 21, a lap earlier than planned due to traffic.[2] Alonso followed on lap 23, rejoining the race almost side-by-side with Montoya, who again held his line. Fisichella led for the next two laps, setting the fastest lap in the process, before making his first stop. On lap 28, with every driver except Sato having pitted, Montoya led Alonso by three seconds, followed by Fisichella, Button, Barrichello, Räikkönen, Michael Schumacher and Trulli. On lap 32 Barrichello, on a three-stop strategy, made his second stop. This enabled Räikkönen, now the fastest man on the track, to close up behind Button. Montoya responded to his team-mate's pace, and to Alonso, by setting back-to-back fastest laps on laps 40 and 41, increasing his lead over the Spaniard to over six seconds. On lap 43, Räikkönen took fourth when Button made his second stop, easily retaining this position after his own stop two laps later. Montoya pitted on lap 44, putting Alonso back in front, before Barrichello made his third stop on lap 45. On lap 46 Fisichella, on course for his first podium since winning the opening race of the season in Australia, made his second stop, but stalled as he tried to leave the pits, promoting Räikkönen to third. Alonso led for five laps before pitting on lap 49, but lost time trying to lap Trulli. This meant that he did not have a big enough lead to make his stop and rejoin the race in front of Montoya, though he was comfortably ahead of Räikkönen. In the end, the Colombian took his first win for McLaren by 2.7 seconds. Räikkönen set the fastest race lap on the final circuit to finish less than 12 seconds behind Alonso, while Fisichella ended up 3.5 seconds behind the Finn. Button finished a distant fifth, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Barrichello, while Ralf Schumacher edged out Toyota team-mate Trulli for the final point. The result allowed Alonso to increase his lead over Räikkönen in the Drivers' Championship by two points, 77 to 51. Michael Schumacher remained in third on 43 points, while Montoya moved up to sixth with 26. In the Constructors' Championship, McLaren reduced the deficit to Renault by three points, 102 to 87, Ferrari remaining in third on 74.

2005 British Grand Prix

2005 British Grand Prix

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Sunday 31st July 2005

12 years ago

The Hungarian Grand Prix saw the beginning of the end of tobacco advertising in F1 due to the Europe-wide ban. McLaren (West) and B·A·R (Lucky Strike) ran with tobacco livery on Friday and Saturday before withdrawing it for the race, while Ferrari (Marlboro) and Renault (Mild Seven) ran full tobacco livery for the entire weekend. McLaren announced that Scotch whisky producer Johnnie Walker would take over the team's title sponsorship for the remainder of the year. Kimi Räikkönen won the race in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20.

Hungarian Grand Prix start 2005

Hungarian Grand Prix start 2005

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Sunday 11th September 2005

12 years ago

Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix contested over 44 laps of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for McLaren, beating Fernando Alonso in a Renault by nearly 30 seconds. Jenson Button finished third for the BAR team.

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Sunday 25th September 2005

12 years ago

Fernando Alonso won the Formula One World Drivers' Championship title at the age of 24 years and 58 days, at the time making him the youngest Formula One World Drivers' Champion. After retaining the title the following year, Alonso also became the youngest double Champion. He joined McLaren in 2007, before returning to Renault for two seasons in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010, he joined Scuderia Ferrari.

Fernando – 2005

Fernando – 2005

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Tuesday 8th November 2005

12 years ago

The 24-millionth VW Golf rolled off the production line in Wolfsburg, Germany. First produced in 1974, the Golf is Volkswagen's best-selling model and the world's second best-selling model, Most production of the Golf was initially in the 3-door hatchback style. Other variants include a 5-door hatchback, station wagon (Variant, from 1993), convertible (Cabriolet and Cabrio, 1979–2002, Cabriolet, 2011–present), and a Golf-derived notchback sedan, variously called Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Vento (from 1992) or Volkswagen Bora (from 1999). The cars have filled many market segments, from basic personal cars, to high-performance hot hatches. The Volkswagen Golf has won many awards throughout its history. The Volkswagen Golf won the World Car of the Year in 2009 with the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 and in 2013 with the Volkswagen Golf Mk7. The Golf is one of only three cars, the others being the Renault Clio and Opel/Vauxhall Astra, to have been voted European Car of the Year twice, in 1992 and 2013. The Volkswagen Golf has made the Car and Driver annual 10 Best list multiple times. The Golf Mk 7 won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 2015, and the Mk1 GTI also won the award in 1985 (due to it being built in Pennsylvania.)

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Sunday 5th March 2006

11 years ago

A world record for the most people in a car, a Renault Twingo: 22 Osnabrück Tigers cheerleaders, was set at the opening of a Renault selling centre in Osnabrück (Germany).

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Sunday 12th March 2006

11 years ago

The Bahrain Grand Prix (formally the III Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix) was held at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. The race, contested over 57 laps, was the opening round of the 2006 Formula One season and the third running of the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was won by the 2005 World Champions, Fernando Alonso and the Renault team. Ferrari driver and polesitter Michael Schumacher began his final season in Formula One (before his return with Mercedes in 2010) with second position. Kimi Räikkönen completed the podium after he finished in third place with the McLaren team, despite starting in last position.

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Sunday 19th March 2006

11 years ago

The Malaysian Grand Prix held at Sepang was won by Giancarlo Fisichella driving a Renault R26, who took the final of his three victories in Formula One. His team-mate, Fernando Alonso, finished second to extend his lead in the drivers' championship standings to 7 points. Jenson Button took the first podium in a Honda by finishing in third place.

Malaysian Grand Prix 2006 Start

Malaysian Grand Prix 2006 Start

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Sunday 2nd April 2006

11 years ago

The Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park was won by Fernando Alonso, driving a Renault R26. Kimi Räikkönen second, and Ralf Schumacher third. Polesitter Jenson Button retired from the race when his engine blew on the final lap, stopping just ten metres from the finish line, losing a points scoring position (fifth place) in the process. The race was not the traditional season opener, after being delayed because of the Commonwealth Games which were staged in Melbourne at the time of the opening round. Murray Walker made a return to the commentary box for a one-off with Australia's Network Ten.

Massa crashes into the Williams of Nico Rosberg (left) and Red Bull driver Christian Klein before spinning off the circuit and out of the 2006 Australian Grand Prix at the first corner on his Ferrari debut

Massa crashes into the Williams of Nico Rosberg (left) and Red Bull driver Christian Klein before spinning off the circuit and out of the 2006 Australian Grand Prix at the first corner on his Ferrari debut

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Sunday 14th May 2006

11 years ago

The Spanish Grand Prix (formally the XLVIII Gran Premio Telefónica de España) was held at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. The race, contested over 66 laps, was the sixth round of the 2006 Formula One season, and the 48th running of the Spanish Grand Prix. Victory was taken by Renault driver, and polesitter, Fernando Alonso at his home race. Michael Schumacher finished the race in second position for the Ferrari team, and the second Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella completed the podium by finishing in third position.

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Sunday 28th May 2006

11 years ago

The Monaco Grand Prix is remembered by many people for Michael Schumacher's actions during the closing stages of the qualifying session for the race. Schumacher stopped his car in the Rascasse corner preventing his rival Fernando Alonso improving his time and most likely taking pole off Schumacher. Whether the move was deliberate is still a matter of debate. In the end, Schumacher's actions were deemed "deliberate" by the race stewards and he was demoted to the back of the grid as punishment for his actions, promoting Alonso from second to pole position. Fernando Alonso won the race in his Renault R26.

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Sunday 11th June 2006

11 years ago

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was won by Fernando Alonso in a Renault R26. He became the first Spanish driver and the youngest driver (at 24 years 10 months 13 days) to get the ‘hat trick’ of pole position, chequered flag and fastest lap in the same Grand Prix. This race also featured the first-ever pit stop to involve a woman, as ITV’s then pit-lane reporter Louise Goodman became the left rear tyre changer during a pit stop for Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro.

Fernando Alonso wins the 2006 British Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso wins the 2006 British Grand Prix

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Sunday 16th July 2006

11 years ago

At the French Grand Prix Michael Schumacher became the first driver in Formula One history to win the same Grand Prix on eight different occasions (having previously won the Grand Prix in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2004). Schumacher also achieved his 22nd career hat trick (pole position, win & fastest lap at the same race), also a record. Fernando Alonso, driving a Renault at the team's home race, finished second, whilst Schumacher's Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Massa, completed the podium by finishing in third position.

Michael Schumacher driving for Ferrari at the 2006 French Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher driving for Ferrari at the 2006 French Grand Prix.

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Thursday 15th February 2007

10 years ago

Formula One edged further away from the threat of a breakaway series as Renault announced it was leaving the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA). The organisation had been in meetings about the future of the sport with the FIA and Formula One Management but had backed down on a plan to create an alternative series. Renault followed Toyota out of the group, leaving just BMW, Daimler-Mercedes and Honda in the GPMA.

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Friday 9th November 2007

10 years ago

Renault was forced to admit that it had been using data from McLaren, acquired when an engineer moved between the teams bringing sensitive information with him which was then shared within Renault. McLaren, who had been fined $100 million in the notorious Spygate affair, were left incredulous when the FIA in effect let Renault off after accepting none of the information had been used in its designs. "I am absolutely at ease with it.' Renault boss Flavio Briatore said: 'I wish to pay tribute to the team, who have handled the matter with integrity and dignity." The media could not help compare his reaction with his splenetic attacks on McLaren during Spygate … nor of his close relationship with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. "Is it fair?" Ecclestone said. "We are always fair."

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Wednesday 5th December 2007

9 years ago

McLaren was forced into an embarrassing climb-down for falsifying information on the eve of an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Monte Carlo, which was about to decide if Renault was guilty of using McLaren secrets. McLaren had claimed that former engineer Steve Mackereth took 780 technical drawings with him when he joined Renault the previous year, but admitted there were only 18 drawings and that nine employees, rather than the implied 18, had seen the sensitive data. Asked if what had become known as Spygate II had harmed damaged the sport, FIA president Max Mosley said: " "I don't think it's done any damage. In fact, it has raised the public awareness. That is the paradox. What is important is that people believe the spying has stopped and will continue to be stopped."

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Monday 19th May 2008

9 years ago

Nissan Motor Co. and NEC corp. announced plans to begin mass-producing lithium-ion batteries for electric cars. Nissan and Renault planned to have an all-electric car in the US and Japan by 2010.

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Sunday 28th September 2008

9 years ago

Fernando Alonso won the Singapore Grand Prix, the first-ever night race, for the Renault team from 15th on the grid. Nico Rosberg claimed second in his Williams followed by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. In September 2009, Renault F1 admitted to an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting that Piquet had deliberately crashed per instructions from Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and chief engineer Pat Symonds, in the hope of helping Alonso win. The Renault team were handed a disqualification from Formula 1, which was suspended for two years pending any further rule infringements. Briatore was banned from all FIA-sanctioned events for life, while Symonds was banned for five years. However, Briatore and Symonds sued the FIA in French courts, and on January 5, 2010, the Tribunal de Grande Instance overturned the ban which had been put in place on both men.

Singapore Grand Prix - 2008

Singapore Grand Prix - 2008

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Monday 9th February 2009

8 years ago

The French government announced that it would give $8.4 million in low interest loans to Renault SA and PSA Peugeot-Citroen in exchange for pledges that the car makers wouldn’t close any factories or lay off workers in France for the duration of the funding.

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Friday 4th September 2009

8 years ago

The day Crashgate took off, with the announcement from the FIA it was going to charge renault following claims by Nelson Piquet Junior that he had deliberately crashed his Renault at the previous year's Singapore Grand Prix under team orders. The hearing was set for September 21 but by then Renault boss Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds had quit.

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Wednesday 16th September 2009

8 years ago

The day Flavio Briatore resigned at boss of Renault as the notorious Crashgate affair streamrolled out of control - the team's director of engineering, Pat Symonds, also stood down. "Their careers were in ruins last night," wrote the Times. After initially denying all claims Nelson Piquet Jnr had been instructed to crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Briatore caught everyone on the hop when he suddenly quit. Long-time friend Bernie Ecclestone said: "Well, I feel sorry for him actually. He told me recently he didn't want to finish up like me, playing with racing cars at my age. So at least he's been saved that embarrassment." The story would run for months and end up in a Paris court the following year.

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Tuesday 24th November 2009

7 years ago

Flavio Briatore's ultimately successful appeal against his lifetime ban from motorsport as well as £1 million in damages resulting from the Crashgate scandal began in a Paris court. The controversy centred on an early crash involving Nelson Piquet, Jr.'s car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix of 28 September 2008, when he was still driving for Renault. At the time, Piquet Jr. described the crash as a simple mistake; however, shortly after his acrimonious departure from Renault and criticism of Briatore nearly a year later in August 2009, allegations surfaced that he had deliberately crashed to help Renault team mate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the race. After a Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) investigation, on 4 September 2009 Renault were charged with conspiracy and race fixing, and were due to face the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009. In return for immunity from punishment, Piquet Jr. had reportedly stated to the FIA that he had been asked to crash by Briatore and Renault chief engineer Pat Symonds. On 11 September, following leaks of Piquet Jr.'s evidence, Renault and Briatore stated they would take legal action against Piquet, Jr. for making false allegations; however, five days later, Renault announced they would not contest the charges, and that Briatore and Symonds had left the team. The day after the Renault announcement, Renault confirmed Briatore had resigned from the team, while Briatore himself stated of his departure that "I was just trying to save the team", "It's my duty. That's the reason I've finished." The team issued the following official statement: The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.[29] At the same hearing, the FIA banned Briatore from FIA-sanctioned events indefinitely. The FIA also stated that it would not renew any superlicence granted to Briatore-managed drivers—effectively barring him from managing drivers who participate in any competition that is under the FIA's authority. The FIA stated that it was coming down hard on Briatore because he denied his involvement despite overwhelming evidence, and that Renault's actions were serious enough to merit being thrown out of F1. However, since Renault took swift action by forcing Briatore and Symonds to resign once the affair came to light, the FIA effectively placed the team on two years' probation. If Renault committed a comparable offence between 2009 and 2011, they were to be indefinitely banned from F1.[30] British newspaper The Daily Mirror described the ban as the harshest sanction ever imposed on an individual in the history of motorsport. Briatore later said he was "distraught" at the FIA's action, and sued the FIA in French courts to clear his name. On 5 January 2010, the Tribunal de Grande Instance overturned the ban and granted him €15,000 in compensation.[33] The tribunal declared in particular that "the decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president, who was well known to be in conflict with Briatore, with Mr Mosley having played a leading role in launching the inquiry and its investigation in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies". The FIA announced that it would appeal the decision issued by the French court, but the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement the following April. In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Briatore said that he is sure that he will not return to Formula One, despite having his ban overturn

Flavio Briator

Flavio Briator

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Sunday 9th May 2010

7 years ago

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened what was dubbed as the Middle East's biggest car plant set up by Iranian state-run automobile company Saipa. Saipa began by assembling Citroën's two-cylinder mini passenger car, the Dyane, in 1968. It went under the name Jyane (or Jian) in Iran. There was also an uncommonly ugly glazed panel van version of the Jyane, as well as the Baby-Brousse, a rustic little buggy in the style of a Citroën Méhari but with a metal body. Later, a pickup version of the Jyane also appeared. The Baby-Brousse was built from 1970 until 1979. In 1975 Saipa began manufacturing licensed versions of the original Renault 5 and later the Renault 21. Production of Citroëns ended in 1980. From 1986-1998 Saipa built the Z24 pickup, a license built version of the 1970-1980 Nissan Junior with a 2.4-litre engine. In 1998 Saipa took over the Zamyad company, which then undertook the production of the Z24. Since 2003, this truck has been sold under the Zamyad brand.Renault 5 production ended in 1994 (Pars Khodro took over the production lines), and the 21 was discontinued in 1997. In 1993 a relationship with KIA began, and production of the Kia Pride commenced. Saipa's Pride is marketed under the names Saba (saloon) and Nasim (hatchback). At the 2001 Tehran Motor Show the liftback Saipa 141 was added to the lineup. This is a five-door version based on the Saba, and is somewhat longer than the Nasim. The Pride series cars carry 97% local content. From 2001 to late 2010, Saipa has had also produced the Citroën Xantia under licence as well as assembling sedan models of the previous generation Kia Rio using parts imported from Korea, from May 2005 to late 2012 where Saipa lost its license to produce Kia Rios.In 2000, SAIPA purchased 51% of Pars Khodro. It also manufactures the Citroen C5 and the New C5. Other products are the Renault Tondar 90, a Renault Logan assembled by SAIPA and its subsidiary Pars Khodro in a joint venture with Renault known as Renault Pars, with over 100,000 orders within a week of it going on sale in March 2007.Production was launched in Venezuela in 2006, and in Syria in 2007

Saipa 232

Saipa 232

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Saturday 2nd October 2010

7 years ago

The Paris Motor Show opened. Renault unveiled the Twizy, its smallest 4-wheeled electric vehicle. Legally classified in Europe as a heavy quadricycle (light quadricycle for the lower-powered Urban 45 model), the two-seater Twizy has a maximum range of 62 miles (100 km). Also unveiled was the MINI Scooter E Concept,

Renault Twizy

Renault Twizy

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Wednesday 5th January 2011

6 years ago

French car manufacturers Renault suspended three top managers suspected of leaking secrets about electric cars. Renault and the French secret service suspected Chinese involvement in the affair. Three months later the firm apologised to the managers after it emerged police found no trace of bank accounts the accused men were alleged to have held and that the source of the spying allegations may have been a fraudster.

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Sunday 10th July 2011

6 years ago

Fernando Alonso won the British Grand Prix for Ferrari. It was the ninth race of the 2011 season, and saw the introduction of a ban on off-throttle blown diffusers, the practice of forcing the engine to continue to produce exhaust gasses to generate downforce when drivers are not using the throttle. The race started under difficult conditions, with a full wet track from the Arena to Chapel, but the remaining sections being dry; as a result of this all of the teams elected to run on intermediate tyres. Before the start Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Pérez slid off the circuit, with Pérez damaging his car's front wing. At the start Sebastian Vettel beat Webber to the first corner, while Jenson Button passed Felipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton made up four positions on the first lap after starting from tenth. The two Renaults of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov had a small collision at Vale, nearly taking Vitaly Petrov out of the race. The difficult conditions meant drivers were forced to nurse the intermediate tyres through the dry sections of the circuit to preserve the integrity of the tyres through the wet stretches. This resulted in the drivers having to stay out on the circuit as long as possible until the circuit became dry enough to switch to the dry-compound tyres, or else risk making an extra stop and losing track position. Vettel started building up a comfortable lead ahead of Webber whilst Jenson Button struggled, first losing fourth place to Massa and then being passed by Hamilton as the 2008 World Champion climbed back up through the field. The Lotuses of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli became the first retirements of the race, stopping within the first ten laps of the race due to gearbox issues. As the first round of scheduled pit stops approached, Michael Schumacher collided with Kamui Kobayashi at Luffield, spinning the Japanese driver around. Schumacher was forced to replace his front wing and was subsequently given a ten-second stop-go penalty for causing an avoidable accident; as the new pit complex was designed in such a way that drivers would spend a minimal amount of time in the pits, the stewards decided that a stop-go penalty was more appropriate than a drive-through. Kamui Kobayashi was given a similar penalty when he pitted due to an unsafe release that saw him drive over a wheel gun. Kobayashi would then go on to retire from the Grand Prix when his engine expired. Meanwhile, Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi were fighting up the order from their poor grid positions, and both successfully passed the struggling Renault of Vitaly Petrov. At Force India, Paul di Resta was delayed in the pits when the team were expecting Adrian Sutil, and thus had Sutil's tyres ready in a similar incident to a mistake at the 2010 German Grand Prix, forcing di Resta to wait while tyres from his own allocation were found. The error dropped di Resta well down the order, and he eventually made contact with Buemi at Copse, damaging the Swiss driver's left-rear tyre. Yellow flags were displayed as Buemi tried to limp back to the pits, but his tyre soon disintegrated and he had to retire by the side of the track.[12] The second round of pit stops saw Vettel and Alonso enter at the same time, but an uncharacteristic mistake from the Red Bull mechanics meant Vettel was delayed and allowing Alonso to take the lead of the race. Vettel emerged in third behind Lewis Hamilton, and struggled to pass the McLaren driver as Alonso increased his lead. Red Bull would eventually pit Vettel for a third time to allow him to run in clear air. Meanwhile, Button pitted for new tyres but retired from the race after the front right wheelnut was not attached, leaving the wheel visibly loose on the exit from the pits and continuing Button's run of poor results in his home race. With less than ten laps to go, Hamilton was told to start conserving fuel in order to finish the race. This slowed him to the point where Vettel and Webber were able to pass him and put him in danger of being passed by Felipe Massa. As the race entered the final two laps, Webber was close enough to Vettel to attempt a pass while Massa was visibly faster than Hamilton. Webber was given an order by the team not to pass Vettel, but ignored it. He was ultimately unsuccessful, and finished in third place. Behind them, Massa caught Hamilton on the final lap and attempted a pass into Vale corner. Hamilton, holding a defensive line into the corner, was unable to slow the car down in time and the two made contact. This forced Massa off the racing line through Club corner and across the line; Hamilton prevailed by two hundredths of a second, while Massa ran wide and crossed the finish line on the tarmac run-off on the outside of the corner. The stewards investigated, but no action was taken. Alonso won the race – Ferrari's first of the 2011 season – sixteen seconds ahead of Vettel and Webber with Hamilton fourth and Massa fifth. Nico Rosberg finished sixth, five seconds ahead of Sergio Pérez in a career-best finish. Nick Heidfeld salvaged four points for Renault in eighth place and Schumacher recovered from his penalty to place ninth. Vitaly Petrov's failure to score meant that Mercedes took fourth place in the World Constructors' Championship. Jaime Alguersuari took the final point-scoring position in tenth, his third successive finish in the points. Daniel Ricciardo was the nineteenth and final classified finisher on his race debut.

Alonso celebrates after winning the 2011 British Grand Prix

Alonso celebrates after winning the 2011 British Grand Prix

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Thursday 6th March 2014

3 years ago

The 84th Geneva Auto Show opened its doors to the public. Cars premiered included Audi S1, Bentley Flying Spur V8, Citroen C1, Cireon C4 Cactus, Ferrari California, Nissan Juke, Renault Twingo, Toyota Aygo and the VW Golf GTE plug-in hybrid.

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Tuesday 9th September 2014

3 years ago

French carmaker Renault signed a deal with conglomerate Bollore to build a three-seater version of the four-seater Bluecar electric vehicle used in Bollore's 'Autolib' self-service auto hire scheme in France. Until now, Bollore's Bluecars had all built in Italy under a joint venture with its designer Pininfarina.

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Sunday 23rd August 2015

2 years ago

French rugby player, racing driver and later a Formula One team owner, Guy Ligier, died at the age of 85. With motorway construction booming in France, Ligier was able to build a large construction empire and during the period made important friends in local politicians François Mitterrand and Pierre Bérégovoy. In the late 1960s Guy started racing Porsche sportscars and even raced in Formula One with privately entered Cooper-Maserati and Brabham-Repco machinery. Neither was very successful and so in 1968 Ligier decided to form a partnership with Jo Schlesser and the two bought a pair of McLaren Formula 2 cars. Schlesser was killed that year on his Formula One debut at the French Grand Prix, at the wheel of the air-cooled Honda Formula One car, and Ligier decided he had had enough and retired. He opted to build racing cars instead and hired Michel Tétu to design the Ligier JS1, a production sportscar (the initials JS were a tribute to Jo Schlesser). The company was built up in sportscar racing but at the end of 1974 Ligier bought the assets of Matra Sports and embarked on a Formula One team. This began racing in 1976 with Jacques Laffite driving. The team became highly successful in the early 1980s with Laffite, Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi driving. In 1981 Ligier's old friend François Mitterrand became President of France and when Ligier ran into trouble in 1983 the President ordered that government-owned companies such as Elf, Gitanes and Loto should supply sponsorship. Ligier also had preferential treatment when it came to engines, political pressure being applied to Renault to force the company to supply the team, which used Renault engines from 1984 to 1986 and from 1992 to 1994. The Ligier-Mitterrand-Bérégovoy alliance reached its peak in the early 1990s with the reconstruction of the Magny-Cours racing circuit as a new headquarters for Ligier and as a racing circuit to host the French Grand Prix. President Mitterrand and Prime Minister Bérégovoy backed the idea. Ligier also built a successful business building Ligier micro-cars. In 1992 Ligier realized that the socialist government would not last forever and sold his team to Cyril de Rouvre. He used the money he gained to corner the market in natural fertilizer in central France and set about building another fortune. Within a few months Mitterrand's Socialist Party was annihilated in the elections and Bérégovoy committed suicide on May 1, 1993. Ligier remained involved with the team in an ambassadorial role, until it was sold to Alain Prost in 1996 and was renamed Prost Grand Prix.

Guy Ligier

Guy Ligier

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