Happy 50th Birthday Renault 16

In Renault, Short Cuts by Jonathan Humphrey

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One of the first cars to feature a tailgate the unique Renault 16 one of the most ingenious cars of its days. It now celebrates its 50th anniversary.


In 1966 the bold design of the Renault 16 was voted car of the year ahead of the Rolls-Royce Siver Shadow. Initially, the Renault 16 was unveiled at the 1965 Geneva Motor Show; An elegant Avant-garde looking car that initially surprised the shows visitors with its offbeat styling. The Renault 16 became a perfect family car, carrying over the success of the Renault 4 to an even more upmarket vehicle.

“We have to take a different approach, cars can’t just be four seats and a boot any longer. They must be viewed as a volume.”Pierre Dreyfus – Renault’s CEO from 1955 to 1975
It quickly won public affection meeting a demand for simplicity. The Renault 16 attracted many fans. With over 1.8 million built in the models lifetime.

The car was exceptionally versatile, a cross between a saloon and a van, The front wheel drive on the Renault 16 was still unusual for a car of its class fifty years ago. The front centrally placed engine ensured excellent road holding and handling. The engine, along with the gearbox and cylinder head were made from aluminium using a pressure die-casting process.

The Renault 16 lifetime spanned the years from 1966 – 1980 throughout this time the car was available with a 93hp 1,647cc engine for the TX version. The top speed round a circuit was 109mph (175kph). Other equipment included central locking and inertia reel seatbelts, and more innovative features that contributed to improving the quality of owners’ everyday lives.

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

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