Rallye Renault

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Blenheim (June 5th)

This year’s Rallye Renault, promoted by Renault Ltd. of Acton, took place in the spacious terrain of Blenheim Palace grounds, near Oxford. It survived heavy showers which terminated a hot spell and attracted an enormous attendance of Renault owners, the road outside being filled for some time with cars of this make as far as the eye could see—Dauphines, R8s, 4Ls, and R16s—the Renault salesmen must have been delighted to see so many smart R16s already on the roads of Britain. The morning was devoted to a Concours d’Elegance divided into classes for 1899-1920, 1921-1939 and 1945-1966 Renaults, marks rightly being lost if a car had not been driven to the venue and for non-originality as well as dirty or unkempt state of chassis or body. There were 26 veterans and Edwardians, ranging from an 1899 Type A 1 3/4 voiturette with non-original wheels to a 1915 15.8-h.p. limousine and embracing the lofty and very practical 20/30s of the Montagu Motor Museum and Victor Bridgen of this class two more were “one-lunger” veterans and at least 14 were the famous and indestructible 2-cylinder Type AG and AX Renaults. Most of these were on beaded-edge tyres, the tyre-life being considerable on these pedestrian twins, the engine of which is a beautiful example of aluminium casting. Marks were lost by these jolly little Renaults mainly because Zenith carburetters had been substituted for the original Renault carburetters—and the company made its own “gas-works” right into the vintage years. One yellow Type AX from Edinburgh had an Anglo’s Taxibus Spirit 2-gallon can on its running-board, its neighbour displayed a National Benzole tin, a 1909 landaulette had whitewall tyres clashing with its bright yellow body, and Challiner’s Patent detachable rims, and another Type AX possessed a small wrought-iron dickey seat. There was an unobtrusive, taxi-bodied Type AG from Brighton, a smart AX with a glass inspection panel in the top of its coal-scuttle bonnet and a single Ducellier headlamp, while Skerman’s Type AX from Devon had its rally plaques in the centre of its spare wheel. A big 1914 Renault from Biggleswade had a very sporting but probably non-original body.

The 1921-39 category numbered only eleven Renaults but made up for this because two of them were the great 45-h.p. tourers. There was a neat 1938 12.1-h.p. Celtraquartre 4-door saloon and a similar 2-door coupe with wire-mesh radiator grille, and a 1918 Type BCF2 with its bonnet sides opening on a system of sliding struts, Welham’s Vivastella breakdown truck, a 1930 6-cylinder Monastella saloon with its front mudguards and headlamps well supported by tubular members, a 1928 Monasix coupe with deep sun-vizor in front of its screen, both these vintage Renaults having front bumpers, a very nice blue 1928 8.3 Type NN torpedo with padlocked toolbox in the o/s valance, an all yellow (even to the badge!) 1926 8.3 tourer from Dorset, another of these rare Renaults (a 1925 model) with “brassed” lamps and screen-frame, and a 1924 8.3-h.p. cloverleaf with the round badge which needed a big truck to get it from Durham to Blenheim and which was also “brassed” and had its bulb horn casually draped on the seat.

After a box-lunch a series of driving tests and the Grand Prix d’Ensemble took place, while in the background music was provided by the Band and Bugles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire T.A. Light Infantry. It was a gay day, with Renaults everywhere. There was also the usual Rolls-Royce having a look, and it was a Silver Shadow, as befitted this auspicious occasion.-W.B.