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.

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On This Day


Wednesday 2nd December 1964

57 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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