Re-acquaintance with the Baby Renault

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In November, 1948, we published a detailed and particularly praise-worthy account of the little rear-engined, four-door Renault 760. Recently we have been able to take an extended test in a used example of a 1950 model offered for sale by Offord of South Kensington, who make a speciality of dealing in these little cars. Renault have, of course, since reduced the engine size to 748 c.c., and the smaller engine was in the car we tested.

This was interesting as a means of discovering the value available to that considerable body of purchasers who cannot or will not pay purchase tax on a new car and who wish to couple extreme economy of fuel with modest purchase-price.

This Renault was notably clean externally and internally, the only readily-apparent blemish being a few inches broken-off the near side of the back bumper. All the controls and what instruments there are functioned properly. The engine started easily given a good deal of choke and ran 45 miles to each gallon of “Pool.” It was noisy when working hard and on the over-run, and used very little oil. It got the little car along very briskly, although at first hesitation set in above 35 m.p.h. in second gear. This cured itself without any attention from us!

The suspension gave the customary comfortable ride, although there seemed to be more up-and-down motion than on the Press car. The steering was taut, smooth, possessed of quick castor action and only a trace of return motion, and had a lock Scotland Yard expects of a taxi. There were a good many creaks and rattles about the body, which thus betrayed its “tin” construction. There were air deflectors on the front doors, but these do not altogether offset the disadvantage of sliding as distinct from winding, windows.

The rear-placed engine only led to exceptional over-steer under sudden changes of direction and twice we took evasive action in narrow lanes from on-coming carelessness without any trouble at all. The throttle was reluctant to open and this, coupled with a difficult-to-judge (but not fierce) clutch, made the “take-off” look rather amateur 50 per cent. of the time. The gear-lever “works” rather alarmingly under acceleration and retardation and the change and gear positions call for acclimatisation. Reverse is opposite first, with no safety catch. The rubber knob tended to come off the tiny central lever, and the lever’s rubber draught excluder was torn.

The brakes were very good, the horn and lights control on the steering column extension convenient, and the ample space within the car deserves praise. The “bonnets,” front and back, could be locked; the deep tin cubby-hole and generous pockets were useful. The seat adjustment calls for a halt and the driver sits too low for full visibility to be enjoyed. The front wheel arches intrude into his compartment, but do not annoy. Equipment included screen defroster, dual wipers, single visor, self-cancelling direction-indicators, ash-tray, Desmo rear-view mirror, interior lights operated by opening the doors, and engine-inspection light. Luggage would have to go on the roof. As the rear “bonnet” must be opened for refuelling there is a strong possibility that, at night especially, the garage-hand will fill up via the radiator filler unless you get there first! Does Esso Service Station course cover this point, we wonder?

LLF689 came to us with sound tyres and unmarked jewelescent-blue finish and impressed as a reasonable example of used economy car. Indeed, we thoroughly enjoyed driving it and returned it with real reluctance. Over 350 hard miles it gave no trouble of any sort. The price asked was £645.—W. B.