About six months ago I got asked a question, it seems Australian Renault history runs along the following lines follows, Renault sales commenced in 1903, they revolutionised the taxi scene, sold a few trucks to Myer, then there was WW2, mumble-mumble, then in 1966 Renault bought the Continental & General factory at West Heidelberg etc etc.. What actually happened in-between?
At the time I emptied the Useless Info File onto the keyboard, and recently found the file again, brushed off the cobwebs, but didn't give it a polish.
The following is my condensed version of what happened in Australia with Renault between 1947 (post World War 2), the West Heidelberg period, and beyond. The result of compiling the various crinkled envelopes, napkins, magazine articles and press releases, and just general junk with words written on them into one electronic file. It isn’t intended to be an encyclopaedic breakdown of the history, nor each model, I just don’t have that knowledge. More a living document, that will hopefully provide at least a small part of Australian Renault history, the major differences in Australian models, and the time lag of Australian model launches and old model run-ons. It will be added to and altered as time goes on, and better knowledge becomes available.
No doubt there will be errors, omissions and other misfits. So point them all out, and add to the information resource, which will likely have a few holes here and there. At this stage it is basically a list of models and key events, Australian motorsport has been excluded, so nothing about Bathurst entries, rallying etc, which are deserving of their own file. Post 1966 to 2004 is complete, if there is interest.
Before anyone tells me. 1) Yes, the text and formatting is rough. 2) Yes, this thread is useless without pictures. 3) I agree, this thread is a good cure for insomnia.
The Renault marque is reintroduced to Australia following WW2, with the release of the fully imported Juvaquatre (Type BFK4), an 8hp (fiscal) four-door saloon in July 1947. Renault distribution in Australia was undertaken by various independent state and regional distributors and dealers.
Ira L & AC Berk was appointed the Renault distributors for New South Wales and Queensland in 1938. In August 1948 they completed the construction of a 7,500 sqm factory in the suburb of Belmore in NSW (currently occupied by Pickles motor vehicle auctions) to handle the assembly of Renault 760 and preparation of Packard vehicles, who they were also the distributors for.
Australian Renault Distributors.
NSW – Ira L & AC Berk, 77 William St, Sydney.
Victoria/Tasmania/Riverina – Pound Motors, 114 Victoria St, Carlton.
Brisbane – Ira L & AC Berk, 262 Queen St, Brisbane.
Adelaide – City Tractors Agency Pty Ltd, 100 Franklin St, Adelaide
Perth – Victor Motor Company Ltd, 432 Murray St, Perth.
760: February 1949, the 760 (Type R1060) is released in Australia. Initially fully imported, local assembly commencing in May 1949. Three spoke steering wheel, with combination tail light and number plate light mounted below the engine cover.
760 Panel Van: (Type R2070) Introduced, sold through until 1950.
Juvaquatre: (Type BFK4) Sold through until mid 1950.
August 1950, Ira L & AC Berk celebrates the assembly of the 1,000th Renault 760.
760. Trim improvements, two spoke steering wheel, separate number plate light, with two rear tail lights and reflectors located either side of the engine cover. Late 1950, winding front door windows replace the previous sliding windows.
760: On the introduction of the 750, the 760 is sold as the entry level model, with stocks selling through until 1953.
750: Introduced July 1951. Renault 750 (Type R1062) (AKA 750 Sports Saloon) is introduced as an additional model to the Renault 760. New dashboard with tan and cream round central speedometer, flanked by temperature and fuel indicators.
The colour range for the 1951 model range comprises Cherbourg Green, La Salle Grey and Dousan Blue.
750: Telescopic dampers all round replace previous lever arm dampers.
Prairie/Colorale range: (Type R2090) The Prairie is a new seven seater multipurpose vehicle, powered by a 2.38 litre side valve motor, front engine/rear drive. Also available is the Colorale range, including a pick-up, with the same mechanical specifications. Assembled in Australia from a CKD pack by Ira L & AC Berk.
News.Ira L & AC Berk announce acquiring the Renault franchise for Western Australia and South Australia
750: Standard version introduced, De luxe replaces Sports Saloon.
Fregate: (Type R1100) Introduction to Australia at the 1953 Melbourne Motor Show. A 2-litre front engine, rear drive saloon with independent coil sprung rear suspension, incorporating semi-trailing arms.
May 1954. The managing director of Ira L & AC Berk announces that a reserve of unassembled components for Renault vehicles has been established. The reserve is owned by RNUR (Regie Nationale des Usines Renault), and is to be used principally for the replacement of shortages in factory shipments and items damaged in transit or local assembly.
750: Mark 54 introduced in March 1954. New front end styling, featuring three wide aluminium strips, with a round plastic Renault badge on the middle strip. The six volt battery is relocated from the front luggage compartment to the engine compartment, the spare wheel being relocated from a horizontal position in the front luggage compartment to a vertical position, in order to create extra luggage space. The cooling is improved, with a pressurised system and a radiator blind operated by cable from the interior providing temperature control for the cooling system. Improved interior heating arrangements, the ducting flaps in the engine compartment being hinged and spring loaded, instead of requiring removal or replacement to operate the heater as previously. Windscreen demisting outlets are located at the corners of the windscreen. A sliding steel sunroof is available as an option.
Fregate: Push button exterior door handles, revised trim.
Prairie/Colorale: (Type R2093) Replacement of the 2.38 litre side valve motor with the 2-litre OHV Fregate motor.
750: Mark 55. Standard model replaced by a basic Thriftmaster version introduced in addition to the De luxe. The Thriftmaster features more austere trim, no external bright strips and painted door handles. Mechanically it is identical to the De luxe, which continues basically unchanged. An externally accessible fuel filler cap is included on Australian assembled vehicles. Instrument colours altered to grey and cream.
Pound Motors, the Victoria/Tasmania/Riverina Renault distributor commences the distribution of the locally assembled 750, replacing the previously fully imported version.
Fregate: No major changes.
Prairie/Colorale: No major changes.
1955 Australian Renault Distributors.
NSW – Ira L & AC Berk, 72 William St, Sydney.
Victoria/Tasmania/Riverina – Pound Motors, 114 Victoria St, Carlton.
Hobart - King's Cycles, 125 Elizabeth St, Hobart.
Launceston - Hillier Regan Constructions Ltd., 60 St Johns St, Launceston.
Brisbane – Ira L & AC Berk, 116 Wickham St, Brisbane.
Adelaide – National Motors, 118 Franklin St, Adelaide
Perth – Diesel Motors Pty Ltd, 1091 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park.
November 1956: An announcement by Pierre Guerin, (RNUR Export Manager) of a proposal to the Australian Government for a plan to locally manufacture the Renault Dauphine. Local content is proposed to progressively increase from the required 45% in 1957, to practically 100% by 1963, whilst achieving an annual production volume of 20,000 Dauphines. Apart from this initial submission, no further action appears to have been taken by RNUR to progress the local manufacture of Renaults.
In their submission, Renault indicated that the current Australian content of the locally assembled 750 was 45% of its finished cost price. “Australian content such as tyres, batteries, spark plugs, shock absorbers, radiators, paint, all upholstery and sundry other items are incorporated."
750: Mark 56. revised dashboard introduced, with the instruments relocated to a binnacle in front of the driver, provision for a radio, and an open glovebox in front of the passenger. A "safety" crushable rubber cored plastic strip is located the dashboard lower edge, with a cushioned strip above the windscreen. Scuttle ventilator flap deleted, with the impression remaining in the scuttle. A diamond shaped Renault badge is located inside a circular bezel on the nose of the car.
An additional De luxe model is introduced featuring the Ferlec Automatic Clutch. An electromagnetic clutch unit eliminating the clutch pedal, the clutch being disengaged via a microswitch located at the base of the gearlever.
1063: Ira L & AC Berk advertised the model as being available to order. The 1063 is a high-performance version of the 750, featuring a modified version of the 748cc motor developing 42bhp (instead of the usual 21bhp), as well as using a five-speed non synchromesh gearbox with four shock absorber rear suspension. Wheels magazine test a fully imported version in Australia in April 1956. Renault 1063 history in Australia is very clouded. Parts, such as the five-speed gearboxes, are known (but very rare) however no complete 1063 vehicles have so far come to light. It is considered that any Australian supplied cars are likely to have been Type R1062 versions converted using the 1063 kit available from the Renault factory.
Dauphine: (Type R1090) Locally assembled from a CKD kit. Introduced in November 1956, as a 1957 model year car. Rear mounted 845cc motor and three-speed gearbox with spider type detachable wheel rims. Two levels of specification are available, the Dauphine Special and Dauphine Deluxe, differing in trim specification, with two-tone paint available on the Deluxe. Also available is the Ferlec automatic clutch option on the Deluxe.
Fregate: The Fregate 2-litre continues unchanged. A revised Fregate (Type R1101) with new oval grille and dashboard is introduced with an enlarged 2.14 litre “Etendard” engine. The Domaine (Type R1101, station wagon version) is introduced. The Domaine and Fregate range are all locally assembled.
Prairie/Colorale: Basically unchanged.
750: Basically unchanged.
Dauphine: Unchanged from its November 1956 introduction specification.
Fregate/Domaine: Basically unchanged.
Prairie/Colorale: Basically unchanged.
William Hauslaib, Managing Director of Ira L & AC Berk, is appointed Chevalier of the Ordre du Merite Commercial by the French Government for fostering trade between France and Australia.
Renault introduce a service voucher booklet with fixed price servicing for Australia (similar concept to Volkswagen and the BMC Passport to Service ).
June 1958: RNUR embark on a campaign to revitalise the distribution network throughout Australia. Ira L & AC Berk replaced as the NSW distributors by Harden & Johnston (who handle Peugeot). Pound Motors, who had been the Victoria/Tasmania & Riverina Renault distributor since 1938 are replaced by Canada Cycle & Motor Company. Pound Motors subsequently took on a Volkswagen franchise.
Australian Renault assembly was transitioned from Ira L & AC Berk in NSW to Martin & King in Victoria by September 1958.
750: Three model range of Thriftmaster, De luxe and De luxe with Ferlec Clutch continues. Modifications being the introduction of full disc wheels with three attachment studs replacing the previous detachable rim wheels. Scuttle vent impression deleted.
Dauphine: Three model range of Dauphine Special, Deluxe and Deluxe with Ferlec Clutch continues. Modifications being the introduction of full disc wheels with three attachment studs, revised seating and trim.
Fregate/Domaine: Basically unchanged. A fully imported, super deluxe, Fregate Grand Pavois model is introduced.
RNUR establishes Renault (Australia) Pty Ltd as a subsidiary company to replace the existing independent network of region-based distributors. In order to improve Renault merchandising, parts availability, and service standards. Mobile service instruction units are introduced, to provide all Renault dealers with demonstrations of the latest service and maintenance techniques.
Pierre Le Godec is appointed Managing Director, his territory including New Zealand, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia.
750: No major changes
Dauphine: Minor changes to trim and suspension, fuel filler cap recessed and located under a flush fitting flap behind the right-hand C-pillar.
July 1960. The new Renault (Australia) headquarters at 153 George St, Redfern, NSW is officially opened by Mr J Maloney, Minister for Labour and Industry. It is to be the administrative centre for Renault in Australia, the spare parts depot for the Commonwealth, as well as providing service training and service facilities for Renault vehicles and their dealers. New Renault (Australia) operated sales, service and parts facilities are opened in Melbourne and Adelaide.
750: No major changes
Dauphine: No major changes, four speed manual gearbox optional.
Dauphine Gordini: (Type R1091) Fully imported, introduced April 1960. Powered by the same 845cc engine and four-speed gearbox as used in the Floride. Improved trim specification over the Dauphine, rectangular front blinkers, solid disc wheels, fuel filler located within the engine compartment and Aerostable suspension.
Floride: (Type R1092) Fully imported, introduced April 1960. A fully imported coupe range featuring Dauphine Gordini mechanicals. The Floride Coupe features a fixed head (bolt-on hardtop) and fabric trim. The Floride convertible has a folding soft-top with vinyl trim, with the Floride Coupe/Convertible featuring both a removable hardtop and folding soft-top, and vinyl trim.
January 1961. Renault (Australia) celebrate their total 1960 sales of 1,586 units.
750: No major changes.
Dauphine: (November 1960) Minor changes to trim, nylon door latches introduced (to quieten door closing), as well as the introduction of a rear brake pressure limiting valve. Aerostable suspension, comprising of softer springs with revised shock absorbers all round, and air filled cushions on the rear suspension, introduced to improve the ride.
Dauphine Gordini: Locally assembled version introduced February 1961. Featuring ventilated disc wheels, round amber front blinkers with combined round amber blinkers and stop lights to the rear, revised badging (anodised gold or silver depending on body paint colour) and upgraded trim as well as a lower purchase price over the previous fully imported Dauphine Gordini.
Floride: No major changes.
750: Discontinued when replaced by the R4.
R4: (Type R1120) Locally assembled, introduced June 1962. Five door, six window version introduced to Australia. 748cc engine, three speed gearbox. Hammock type bench front and removable rear seats trimmed in cloth and tubular section bumpers. The car features a sealed cooling system, the coolant “intended to last the life of the vehicle”, and no greasing points.
Dauphine: Round front blinkers, minor changes to trim and engine, fuel filler relocated to the engine compartment.
Dauphine Gordini: No major changes.
Caravelle/Floride S: (Type R1131) Fully imported, introduced October 1962. The Caravelle and Floride S replace the previous Floride range. The Caravelle is a fixed head (bolt-on hardtop) coupe, with a square roofline over the rear seats to accommodate four people. The Floride S has a folding soft-top and removable tapered roofline hardtop (same shape as the previous Floride), with temporary rear seat accommodation.
Mechanically the Caravelle and Floride S are based on the Renault R8, featuring a 956cc, five main bearing, motor with a sealed cooling system, four speed (non synchro 1st) gearbox, a ball joint front end replaces the previous king pin front suspension. Also, fitted with four wheel disc brakes. Appearance-wise, the car no longer has open cooling vents on each side of the car, the radiator is now located to the rear of the car, with cooling air drawn in through the engine cover, and exiting beneath the rear of the car.
December 1963: Renault (Australia) Pty Ltd directors report that trading during 1963 was difficult. Reporting a loss of £58,074 for the year ended December 31, bringing accumulated losses to an amount of £247,295. Auditors warn a further £6,500 should be provided to adequately cover overdue and doubtful debts.
R4: 750cc version continues unchanged. December 1962, the R4 Deluxe (Type R1123) is introduced. The Deluxe features an 845cc motor and three speed all synchromesh gearbox. The interior features a tubular frame bench front seat with a folding rear bench seat trimmed in vinyl, square section bumpers replace the previous tube type.
Dauphine Gordini: No major changes, runs through until 1964.
R8: (Type R1130) Locally assembled, introduced April 1963. The R8 replaces the Dauphine in Australia. It features a completely new body, 956cc five main bearing motor with sealed cooling system, four speed (non-synchro first) gearbox. December 1963, the R8 wins the inaugural Wheels magazine Car Of TheYear award.
Caravelle/Floride S: No major changes.
April 1964: A new policy to market Renault and Peugeot vehicles in Australia is announced. The distribution of Peugeot vehicles in NSW passes to Renault (Australia), with Continental and General Pty Ltd taking over Renault distribution in Victoria. At the same time, Renault production is transferred from Martin & King (Clyde Industries) at Somerton in Victoria to Continental and General at West Heidelberg in Victoria. The change in production location is anticipated to increase Renault assembly from around five per day, to ten to twelve vehicles per day.
Continental and General also assembled the Peugeot 403 and 404, NSU Prinz, Studebaker Lark and Citroen Parisienne vehicles.
R4: Introduction of the R4 Standard with the 845cc motor and less trim than its Deluxe variant. R4 panel van (Type R2104, locally assembled) with 845cc and three-speed all synchromesh gearbox introduced.
R8: R8 956cc, new dashboard and minor changes front including front seat belt anchorage points, renamed R8 De Luxe on the introduction of the R8 1100. R8 1100 (Type R1132) introduced July 1964 featuring an 1108cc motor, four speed full synchromesh gearbox, front seat belt anchorage points and extra trim over the 956cc version.
Caravelle 1100: (Type R1133) Fully imported, introduced May 1964. Replaces the previous Caravelle and Floride S. The Caravelle 1100 is available as both a fixed head coupe, or coupe/convertible with a square roofline detachable hardtop. It features the 1108cc motor with four speed full synchromesh gearbox from the R8 1100.
Estafette: (Type 2132) Fully imported panel van introduced, available in both normal roof and high topper fibreglass roof versions.
Late 1964, Jacques Thoridnet is appointed managing director of Renault Australia. Replacing Pierre Le Godec who is re-assigned to Renault Canada.
R4: R4 standard discontinued, Deluxe continues with no major changes.
R8: Minor changes to trim, ridged bumpers replace the previous smooth surface bumpers, 'Renault' badge located on front panel.
R8 Gordini 1100: (Type R1134) Fully imported, introduced July 1965. Features 1108cc motor with Gordini modified crossflow cylinder head, four-speed gearbox, large 7” headlights, four wheel disc brakes with power assistance, laminated windscreen, and revised suspension. Available in a single colour of 418 French Racing Blue, with the white racing stripes on a roll in the boot, to be applied by the owner if desired. Limited imports.
At the 8 Gordini 1100 press launch, only journalists who held a current CAMS licence were allowed to test the vehicles.
Caravelle: No major changes.
Estafette: No major changes, 'Renault' badge on front panel, the range sells though until 1967.
August 15, 1966: Renault (Australia) purchase the Continental and General Distribution Pty Ltd production facility located at Dougharty Rd, West Heidelberg, Victoria. Renault (Australia) become the Peugeot concessionaires for Australia, with local assembly of the 404 sedan and wagon continued.
The local assembly by Continental and General of the NSU Prinz, Citroen Parisienne and Studebaker Lark was discontinued earlier in 1966, prior to the acquisition of the plant by Renault Australia.
November 1966. Australian body paint finish changed from acrylic enamel to acrylic lacquer.
R4: Revisions comprise of sliding windows located in the rear doors, with the previous opening rear quarter light windows being fixed. Individual foam cushioned front seats with folding bench rear seat upholstered in vinyl, revised dashboard and front seat belt anchorage points with standard three-point safety belts. An indication of the various delays/lack of demand in CKD assembly, these 1966 Australian models are built from 1964 French model year kits. The R4 Wagon was discontinued late in 1966, to provide extra production capacity for the recently introduced Renault 10. The R4 Van (Type R2104) was upgraded with engine and mechanical modifications in late 1966.
R8: April 1966, R8 1100, Revised dashboard featuring a walnut finish to the instrument surround, revised trim, front safety belts and R10 type C-pillar pressing and trim. The final R8 1100s also featured a grey faux suede type trim as an option.
R8 Gordini 1100: No major changes, limited imports.
R10: (Type R1190) Locally assembled, introduced July 1966. The Renault 10 was adopted as the first Renault model to be assembled under the then recently introduced Small Volume Plan Local Assembly program, requiring 50% local content with a maximum of 5,000 vehicles to be assembled before incurring tariff penalties. Round 5.75” front headlights, with wrap around front parking lights and blinkers. The R10 is essentially an R8 with extended overhangs at the front and rear to round off the styling and create a larger boot. The interior is the same as the last R8, with a walnut finish dashboard, steering wheel spokes, and gearknob.
Caravelle 1100 S: (Type R1133) Fully imported, introduced January 1966. Replacing the previous Caravelle 1100. The modifications include an upgraded 1108cc motor now with a twin-choke downdraft Weber carburettor, improved instrumentation with a round speedometer and 7000rpm tachometer, rectangular front blinkers, fancy steering wheel with alloy centre cap and faux alloy spokes. As previously, fixed head and coupe/convertible versions are available. Imports are restricted with stocks selling through to 1968.
Renault Australia quote a production rate at the end of 1967 of 500 Renault and Peugeot vehicles per month, a significant increase from 1966 of 150 cars per month.
4 Van: (Type R2106) Locally assembled, introduced December 1966. A revised version of the previous R4 Van, now featuring a 12 volt electrical system, increased payload (350kg), larger brakes, standard rear roof flap and revised suspension.
10: Minor changes only, with increased local content flowed in through the year, such as trim and local front armrests. Replaced by ‘square eye’ 10 in November 1967.
8 Gordini 1300: (Type R1135) Locally assembled, introduced April 1967. Four headlights, 1255cc engine with five-speed all synchromesh gearbox, four wheel disc brakes with power assistance, laminated windscreen, twin fuel tanks (26 litres front, 38 litres rear) and crackle black paint finish on the dashboard. The initial two batches of ten cars each are painted Cannes Blue. Apparently the 8 Gordinis were assembled out of hours on weekends, in order not to disrupt production of the other vehicles. The 8 Gordini 1300 is officially available for sale to CAMS licence holders only.
Renault Australia expand their Heidelberg West plant with the construction of a new paint shop, and extended assembly lines with a new conveyor line.
10: Revised version introduced November 1967. Revised front end styling with rectangular headlights, “square eyes to see the road”. Revised rear end styling, and revised trim with a teak finish to the instrument surround, steering wheel spokes and gear knob.
8 Gordini 1300: Minor changes only through increased local content. Second two batches of ten cars each, painted Moyen Blue.
16: (Type R1150) Locally assembled, introduced June 1968. Five door hatchback (or registered as a wagon in NSW), with 1470cc all aluminium block and head motor, and four speed column gear change.
10: No major changes.
8 Gordini 1300: Minor changes only. Final two batches of ten cars in each batch, painted Daffodil Yellow, the final batch of 10 cars being available in early 1970.
16: No major changes to the 16. March 1969, the locally assembled 16TS (R1151) is introduced. It has a 1565cc motor with crossflow cylinder head, upgraded brakes and suspension over the 16, modified dashboard with round instruments and tachometer, reversing lights, auxiliary driving lights, heated rear windscreen and upgraded trim.
In April 1969, between leaving the Ford Australia competition department, and just prior to being offered a position by the Holden Dealer Team, Harry Firth developed three 16TS rally cars to be used in state and national rally championship events. The cars featured twin side draft Weber 42DCOE carburettors, an elaborate extractor exhaust system, the usual Harry Firth wizardry, and developed 110bhp. The Renault 16TS crewed by Bob Watson and Jim McAuliffe came second to a Ford Cortina Twin Cam in the 1969 Australian Rally Championship.
Renault Australia introduce an Electrophoresis anti-corrosive paint undercoating system. The process, developed by ICI BALM, is intended to improve the rust and paint finish of the Renault range. However, due to various issues in the process a number of problems occur, such as inadequate paint adhesion, peeling undercoat and premature rusting, resulting in numerous warranty claims.
Maurice Fertey replaces Jacques Thoridnet as Renault Australia managing director in April 1970.
Australian Design Rules were introduced from January 1970. They were Federal and State Government minimum safety standards that new vehicles available for sale in Australia had to comply with. Compliance with the required ADRs at a particular date was detailed on a separate compliance plate riveted to a vehicle in the engine compartment, or in the boot of a Renault 10.
Renault Australia win the 1970 Australian Rally Championship, courtesy of a Renault 8 Gordini crewed by Bob Watson and Jim McAuliffe.
10: Minor changes to trim, with reclining seats fitted as standard instead of optional, locally sourced Bosch alternator installed. May 1970, locally assembled 10S introduced. The 10S is a unique Australian model, featuring the upgraded Type 688-09 engine from the European 8S with a twin-choke downdraft Weber carburettor, and locally sourced Bosch alternator. The dashboard uses locally sourced VDO instruments, with fuel gauge, speedometer and tachometer, the steering wheel is also sourced from the 8S with faux alloy spokes. Locally produced 4.5” wheel rims from the 8 Gordini are used. The 10S has a delete option matt black stripe along its waistline, and S badges on the sides and rear but is otherwise identical to the normal R10.
12: Locally assembled, introduced November 1970. The Renault 12 was introduced to the Australian press with a CAMS sanctioned, rally style, press release based at Thredbo in New South Wales. The organiser was Bob Watson, then current Australian Rally Champion in a Renault 8 Gordini. The launch rally was intended to demonstrate the agility and durability of the new model, with Max Stahl of Racing Car News winning the first prize of a trip for two to Tahiti.
At the press launch, plans are announced for an ambition by Renault Australia to capture 4% of the Australian car market by 1975, a volume of 20,000 vehicles, with the 12 intended as the best selling model. Also the 12 Gordini is expected to be released later on, once RHD problems are sorted through, with an expectation for five-hundred 12 Gordinis to be locally produced by the close of 1971.
The single trim level 12TL sedan was Australian assembled from its introduction. The first vehicles were fitted with the Type 810-02, 1289cc motor. Just prior to its launch the 12’s engine capacity was required to be reduced under a Government rule to comply with local assembly plan regulations. The plan for each major vehicle model required a 25% engine capacity difference to any other engine in that manufacturer’s range. Therefore, all publicity and road tests for these early 12s refer to the car having a 1,250cc motor, the bore being reduced to 71.9mm. This early version also included LHD pattern windscreen wipers and many other French sourced mechanical components. Local fittings included Dunlop SP3 tyres, Bosch alternator, Dunlop battery, vinyl trim, carpet (in lieu of rubber floor mats in the European version) and paint. The Australian specification was a poor road tropical climate version, featuring a hefty sumpguard, reinforced lower wishbones enclosed on their underside, and a large capacity radiator. The Ducellier distributor was also fitted with a “dustproof” cover under the rotor arm.
In December 1970, the Renault 12 is awarded the Wheels Car Of The Year award in a televised event.
16. The 16 is modified with round air vents located at either end of the dashboard, it is otherwise basically unchanged. The 16TS features a new instrument layout in an aluminium faced panel, now including a clock. The 16TS also includes the round air vents at either ends of the dashboard, the vents being included to improve air flow-through.
May 1971. In an effort to emphasise the safety aspects of Renault vehicles, Renault Australia announce a free advanced driver training course. The course was developed by Bob Watson in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Advanced Motorists, and available to all purchasers of Renault and Peugeot vehicles.
12: A revised 12TL is introduced in Australia in July 1971. The Australia only specification Type 842-01, 1250cc (71.9mm bore), engine was fitted to comply with Australian local assembly rules. The revised model also had increased Australian content.
The Renault Australia boffins at West Heidelberg developed an articulated wiper arm system to enable a RHD wiper set up, this cured a major criticism levelled at the car in RHD markets, but was only adopted in Australia.
The original 12TL quilted boomerang design steering wheel was replaced by a plain two spoke steering wheel with a rubber centre boss, as fitted to the European 12L. The rubber boot mat was replaced by a plastic and felt mat, and electric windscreen washers replaced the finger pump type. The summer and winter flow through ventilation enhancing slides in the boot were deleted. Other Australian sourced components fitted from this date included window glass, VDO instruments including a fasten seat belts light, wiring loom, exhaust system, radiator, shock absorbers, starter motor (with a revised right hand engine mount bracket to accommodate the larger Bosch starter), Bosch distributor, distributor and coil, anti-roll bars, shock absorbers and coil springs.
16: From January 1971, the 16 range was also given the increased local content treatment with local Bosch components replacing the starter, alternator, coil and distributor, Lucas rectangular headlights replacing the Cibie units, along with Smiths heater and radiator fans, Monroe shock absorbers, Preslite wiper motor, and VDO instruments in the 16TS. The 16 and 16TL retained the Jaeger manufacture strip instruments. In May 1971, the rear of the 16 was restyled with new tail lights, with both the 16TL and 16TS incorporating reversing lights and a black embellisher strip between the tail lights. Also the 16 was replaced by the 16TL (Type R1152), this was a revised model, with a 1565cc engine replacing the previous 1470cc motor, but still with the non-crossflow cylinder head.
As with the 12, the window glass was replaced with local Pilkingtons sourced glass, as the French glass did not comply with Australian Design Rules (for granule size when fragmented). Due to the non-compliance of the window glass, from July 1971, the 16TS lost its heated rear screen, as no heated rear screens were being produced in Australia at the time.
12: More revisions to the Renault 12 were introduced to comply with Australian Design Rules. Log shaped head restraints, bulky locally produced seat frames, reversing lights, two-speed demister fan, locally produced dense foam sunvisors, stick-on break away mirror and dual circuit brake system. The repeater indicators on the front mudguards, stainless beading on the headlight surrounds and the chrome finish on the rear taillights were deleted, and the sumpguard was improved in design
June 1972 the 12GL sedan was released with improved creature comforts, extra equipment and brighter paint colours. Upholstery was all black vinyl, extending to the doors and headlining. The perforated vinyl seat facings and carpets being the only coloured relief. Extra trim was fitted in the boot to cover the painted wheelarches, a stick-on plastic strip protected the waistline of car. Australian sourced Renault Competition badges adorned the new timber gearknob, steering wheel boss, front mudguards and boot, adjacent to the GL badge. Mechanically it was identical to the 12TL, with a chrome rocker cover, chrome exhaust tip, deleted centre muffler and redline Dunlop SP44 radials providing psychological added performance.
In August 1972 the 12TL Station Sedan was released in Australia. It retained the Jaeger instrumentation of the French cars.
16: As with the 12, the 16TL and 16TS were also modified to comply with Australian Design Rules from January 1972. The 16 range gaining head restraints, new seats and trim, foam sunvisors, break away mirror and dual circuit braking system. On the 16TS, the auxiliary Cibie driving lights were relocated on a locally produced badge bar. In August 1972, a three-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission was available in the 16TS, the 16TS Automatic (Type R1154) was fitted with French Jaeger instrumentation, as the transmission indicator was located in the base of the tachometer.
French nuclear testing in the Pacific caused Australian Unions to ban the movement of French sourced goods, which greatly reduced production at Renault Australia. Despite the bans, 1973 was the best year yet for Australian Renault production, with 5633 cars produced.
In May 1973, the Renault Australia Competition department was closed. Following the 12 Gordini being declared ineligible for the Australian Rally Championship.
November 1973: Introduction of an additional Tectyl based anti-corrosion treatment of the box sections and panels of the locally assembled range.
Renault Australia goes mod! Introducing a new range of vibrant safety oriented paint colours of Earth Tan, Hibiscus, Scarlet Red, Triton Green and Pale Grape all with matching upholstery and carpet. The star of the Melbourne Motor Show is a Pale Grape (lilac) 12GL Blue Denim Special, with blue denim upholstery on the seats and headlining. It was offered as an option, but due to problems with colour transfer to occupant’s clothes, and premature wear issues, the trim was often replaced by its purple perforated vinyl alternative.
12: May 1973. In addition to the new Varseley designed Renault logo fitted to the grille of the whole 1973 Renault range, there were also more minor revisions across the Australian range. The reversing lights were now vertical, next to the tail-lights on the sedan. An agricultural locking latch on the rear door handle (also used on the US version) is introduced, to replace the locking toggle at the rear edge of the back doors. And the handbrake finally found its way onto the floor between the front seats.
The 12GL models received a new Renault Competition logo on the front mudguards boot lid and steering wheel. The badges are Australian in origin with an incorrect mirror image Renault logo, and reversed French tricolour on the LHS badge. Also fitted to the 12GL are new combined armrest/ door pulls. A vacuum assisted brake servo and self-adjusting rear drum brakes are fitted on the 12 station sedan.
15/17: Fully imported, introduced May 1973. The 15/17 range was a sporting coupe range of two-door coupes with a rear hatch. Unusual for a Renault hatchback though, the rear seat did not fold down to provide extra luggage space, instead the steel bulkhead provided extra rigidity. It was based on the Renault 12 floorpan with mechanicals being a mix, based on the 12 Gordini (block) with 16TS based internals. The range comprised of the 15TS, 17TL and 17TL Automatic. All were fitted with identical 1565cc mechanicals, the manual transmission being four speed, the automatic and electronically controlled three speed unit. Brakes were ventilated disc front/drum rear. The 15 TS was the entry level version, with a long glass side window, but more basic trim, plain unpleated vinyl, plastic rear floor mats, skimpy front carpeting and no centre console. The 17TL featured a small side window and grille covering the rear quarter window, more elaborate trim and a centre console. An addition for Australia only, was a veranda over the top of the instruments, in order to prevent sun glare obscuring the instruments in their Euro spec Opera House type cowls.
A left hand drive evaluation Renault 17TS was donated to Ralph Sarich, for him to install one of his prototype Orbital motors. Renault investigated the option of installing the Orbital engine in order to increase Australian local content in the light of proposed changes to Government policy, the proposed engine was to be sourced from a new factory in South Australia .
16: The 16TL and 16TS both received revisions to the dashboard and trim.
July 1974: Australian motoring goes Metric. With the adoption of the Metric system for Australian roads from July 1974, from the May 1974 upgrade, the VDO speedometer in Australian assembled Renaults had a kilometre odometer, and displayed speed in kilometres per hour. The fully imported 15/17 models retained an Imperial odometer and speedometer until 1975 imports, with the Imperial instruments generally being replaced by the dealer, or on request from the owner to Metric.
By the end of 1974, Australian Renault sales set an all-time record, a yet to be exceeded (as at June 2013) total of 6,569 Renaults sold.
12: May 1974. The introduction of a modified 12GL (Type R1177) sedan fitted with the Type 842-02 1250cc motor with 2V Weber carb. It is similar in specification to the European 12TS (R1177) 1289cc motor, and is fitted with the locally sourced Bosch distributor and coil. The 12GL brakes are fitted with a vacuum servo. Interior wise, the 12GL is fitted with tombstone seats with perforated vinyl seat facings. A 12GL station sedan (Type R1330) gains the 12GL specification trim but retains the 12TL type 1250cc motor with a single choke carburettor. A reinforced roof panel with a chrome roof rack is fitted, while rubbing strips and carpet cover the load area, replacing the plastic and felt mat in the 12TL station sedan.
An additional model to the Australian Renault 12 range is the 12L sedan, with plain unpleated black vinyl trim, moulded plastic mats replacing carpet, no door armrests, no rubber bumper overriders and an L badge on the bootlid.
The 12TL retained the previous low back seats with adjustable head restraints. Across the 12 range, the quilted boomerang steering wheel from the original 1970 version returned, a 40 amp Bosch alternator replaced the previous 30 amp version, and locally produced Uniroyal 180 steel radials were fitted to the 12TL and 12GL.
15/17: August 1974, fully imported 17TS introduced. An additional model to the Australian 15/17 range, featuring Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection with a 1605cc motor, mated to a close ratio five-speed gearbox. Four wheel disc brakes and an intermittent wiper system were fitted. An AM radio was also fitted as standard equipment in the 17TS, and was an optional extra with the 15TS and 17TL. The 15TS and 17TL range is also upgraded with a new dashboard, modified suspension, electric front windows and revisions to badging.
16: May 1974, the 16 TL received minor modifications, as well as the introduction of an Automatic (Type R1153) transmission model. The 16TS received tombstone front seats, lost the front centre armrest, but retaining the oddments bin between the front seats. Locally produced Uniroyal 180 steel radial tyres are fitted as standard equipment. At the end of 1974, a test batch of 16TS Specials were made, these feature cloth faced trim, metallic gold paint, electric front windows and a radio cassette deck.
Changes to Australian local content rules allowed increased imported content in locally assembled vehicles. The changes to the rules regarding import tariffs, and the implementation of import quotas, cause the proposed introduction of the fully imported Renault 5LS to be cancelled, and reduced imports of Renault 15s and 17s.
Renault Australia (Renault, Peugeot assembly) in conjunction with other local car assemblers, Australian Motor Industries (Rambler, Toyota, Triumph), Motor Producers Limited (Datsun, Volkswagen, Volvo) and Leyland Australia, make a submission to the Federal Government protesting against the implementation of the Industries Assistance Commission recommendations for the Australian motor industry. The IAC report recommendations being the abandonment of the previous small volume assembly plans, with the introduction of a phased in 85% local content plan, equalisation of import tariffs to 35% on both fully imported vehicles and CKD (completely knocked down) vehicle kits, with a tariff quota imposed on CKD kits limiting annual volume growth to 3%. The simplistic aim being to make local manufacture more attractive, notwithstanding the previous experiences of Volkswagen Australasia, and Leyland Australia.
May 1975: Jacques Thoridnet returns to Australia to replace Maurice Fertey as Renault Australia managing director.
12: TL, GL, Sedan, Station Sedan, Manual. Introduction of the European Renault 12TS (R1177 & R1337) mechanical specification to all Renault 12 models. The changes to the local assembly rules allow the fitting of the European specification 1289cc 12TS motor. The full European Jaeger 12TS instrumentation, including a tachometer, is used in all models replacing the Australian VDO instruments. ‘ Kangaroo’ headlights inclusive of a separate H1 halogen driving light in the main body also fitted to all models.
Imported components gradually replace the previously Australian sourced parts such as starter motors, jack, glass and trim parts, with a heated rear screen now featured on all models.
Evaporative emission controls (with a non-vented fuel cap now fitted), hazard flashers and inertia reel front seat belts are added to comply with Australian Design Rules. In addition to the new motor and instruments, the 12TL receives minor changes to the trim, including colour co-ordinated carpets. The GL receives minor changes to trim, as well as the fitting of Michelin ZX tyres.
September 1975 sees the introduction of the 12 Automatic, initially only in GL specification, with a TL Automatic available later.
In November 1975, the 12GL Special is introduced. Featuring metallic paint, the Gordini styled steel wheels from the 12TS, locally sourced “antisun” tinted glass was fitted to the side windows, with a tinted band laminated front windscreen. At the same time the 12LE, for limited edition was introduced. A run of two hundred 12 sedans intended as a price leader variant. It was only available in a single colour of Liquid Amber with plain unpleated Havana trim and plastic interior floor mats. No rubber bumper overriders were fitted, with looped door pulls replacing interior armrests.
15/17: 15TS, 17TL, Manual & Automatic. 17 Gordini, Manual. A revised range of fully imported Renault 15/17 introduced in late 1975. The cars incorporating the latest required modifications for Australian Design Rules, such as front inertia reel seat belts, hazard flashers, and evaporative emission controls (non-vented fuel cap under a hinged flap). The range also includes tinted side window glass with tombstone seats replacing the previous type with separate headrests. The previous 17TS is replaced by the 17 Gordini, mechanically identical to the 17TS, but with the loss of the previously fitted oil cooler.
The introduction of import quotas in 1975 restricts the importation of the Renault 15/17, with a final shipment of 17TL and 17 Gordini in early 1976. Ultimately rapidly rising prices caused by currency movements, changes in Government tariff and sales tax policy and rampant inflation cause Australian imports of the 15/17 range to be discontinued, with available stock being sold through until 1978.
16: TL, TS, Manual, Automatic. For the 1975 model year, an upgraded range is introduced. Front inertia reel seat belts, hazard flashers and evaporative emission controls being included to comply with Australian Design Rules. Also increased imported content is incorporated into the model range.
May 1975, the range features a new black plastic grille, black wiper blades and arms, and new diamond pattern hubcaps. The 16TS receives a new steering wheel with drilled hole aluminium trim, the instruments on the manual transmission 16TS are now French Jaeger instruments. Cibie headlamp units replace the previous Australian Lucas units, the lights incorporating hydraulic beam height adjustment from a rotary knob on the dashboard, the 16TS receiving ‘Kangaroo’ headlights incorporating a H1 halogen driving light to replace the previous separate Cibie driving lights.
July 1976 – Renault launches the Renault Newstar series. Open to any standard production Renault 12 sedan or station sedan sold in Australia, with early models able to be converted to current specification. The only allowable modifications being to brake linings and the exhaust system, with safety equipment such as harnesses, roll bar, laminated screen and a fire extinguisher. Competitors are to be amateurs, with the winner of the series to be rewarded with a trip to France to take part in the Renault-Elf-Winfield Ecole de Pilotage in a Formula Renault single seater. The series to be decided over six rounds commencing in December 1976 through to February 1977 at various circuits in NSW and Victoria. Jacques Thoridnet modelled the series on the single model Renault 5 and Renault 12 Gordini racing series in France.
The 1976/77 Renault Newstar series ended in controversial circumstances. During post final round scrutineering, the provisional series winner Chris Roberts, was found to have illegally removed metal from the pistons to balance the motor. The charge was initially dismissed, however, following a protest the series was awarded to Sydney solicitor Nick Ledingham.
A second Renault Newstar series was held over 1977/78 with six rounds, this time including Adelaide International Raceway in South Australia. For this series, K-Mac modified front and rear anti-roll bars were allowed as modifications, reducing lap times in the order of 1.5 seconds. The 1977/78 series was won by 28 year-old ceramic tiler Gerd Kluvetasch.
12. The opening of 1976 saw the continuation of the existing 12TL and 12GL models continuing unchanged.
May 1976: Introduction of the 12XL. The XL and XL Special sedans being introduced as a supplementary model to the existing TL and GL range. The new XL model being based on the European 12TS Phase 2 introduced in France in September 1975. The exterior styling featuring a revised grille, raised front and rear bumpers and enlarged rear light clusters in a matt black surround and XL badges on the front guards. The interior featuring a soft feel four spoke steering wheel, revised dashboard with an integrated centre console with clock located below a central lockable glovebox. The tombstone front seats were revised to a keyhole design, designed to make rear passengers feel less claustrophobic.
Mechanically, the existing 1,289cc motor was upgraded with a new crankshaft with larger main bearings, a larger clutch and revised first gear for the four speed manual gearbox, a three speed automatic transmission was also available.
The XL Special featured the Gordini styled steel 4.5” wheels from the French 12TS, metallic paint, laminated windscreen.
June 1976: XL Station Sedan released, also available as an XL Special.
August 1976: The introduction of Australian Design Rule 27A created the 12 1.4, the model replacing the previous TL, GL and 1.4 models.
The 12 1.4 (Type R1179 sedan, R1338 Station Sedan)was a unique model not available in France. Being the adaption of the Swedish and Canadian market Renault 12s, whose markets had similar emission requirements to Australia. The 1,397cc motor featured an enlarged bore of 76mm, with carburettor settings to allow it to pass the new emission rules.
Appearance wise, the 12 1.4 was identical to the XL, with the addition of 12 1.4 badges to the front mudguards, and a new range of colours. The Station Sedan featured combined reversing light and number plate light clusters, replacing the previous separate lights. The interior featured single tone vinyl trim, with non-perforated seat facings. The 12 1.4 Special featured the usual laminated windscreen, tinted side glass, metallic paint and Gordini styled steel wheels with Michelin ZX tyres.
16. TL, TS. Manual and Automatic. Continues unchanged through 1976 before being discontinued in mid-1976, and selling through 1977.
Mid – 1976. 16TS Special introduced as a limited edition of 250 vehicles. The Special includes a tinted band laminated front windscreen, tinted side and rear glass, metallic paint and Gordini styled wheels from the 16TX. An AM/FM radio with a centre roof aerial is standard, with cloth faced trim available at extra cost. Both manual and automatic transmission versions are available.
The 16 range was discontinued for Australia without a direct replacement, due to the cost of adapting the model for upcoming Australian Design Rule compliance (eg 27A emission controls, side impact and child restraint anchorage points), given its relatively small volume of sales in Australia, and the relatively short remaining model lifespan.
Renault Australia completes their process of exiting from direct retail dealing, with the closure of the last company owned site at Renault Corner on Anzac Highway, Ashford, in South Australia. Just prior to the Ashford disposal, Renault Australia purchased Carl Drummond Motors, after Carl Drummond wished to retire from the motor retailing business to his farm. At the time Carl Drummond was the largest volume Renault/Peugeot dealership, with over 50% of total Adelaide sales, Renault Australia acquired the dealership in order to provide continuity of customer service whilst finding a suitable operator.
A suitable operator was closer than Renault Australia had considered. Jacques Thoridnet, and his family, had grown to enjoy the Australian lifestyle, and chose to acquire the retailing business rather than another overseas posting. The business, located in the Adelaide CBD, renamed Jacques Thoridnet Motor Centre when opened in July 1977. The replacement for Mr Thoridnet as Managing Director of Renault Australia was Bernard Vernoux, whose previous position was Renault’s chief of the southern region of the UK.
Going Ford was the Growing Thing, following the discontinuation of Renault 16 assembly. An agreement was struck with Ford Australia to assemble the upcoming TE Cortina Station Wagon. With the assembly of about 40 Cortina Wagons per day, for an initial three year period, the first wagons rolling off the line in December 1977.
12 1.4: Sedan, Station Sedan. Manual, Automatic. The 12 1.4 range was unchanged for the first half of 1977, with another round of Australian Design Rule changes prompting a mid-year upgrade. June 1977 saw the addition of side intrusion bars in the doors, child restraint anchorage points and individual warning lights for park brake and brake failure in the instrument cluster, replacing a previous combined park brake/brake fail light featuring a foot pedal.
Other changes were new paint colours, with minor trim changes featuring new pebble grain vinyl trim and plush cut pile carpeting. The 12 1.4 Special gained Australian developed cord cloth seat facings, but lost the Gordini styled steel wheels. The previous full aluminium wheel cover on the normal models, and the Gordini style rims, are replaced by locally produced grey steel wheels with clip-on plastic hubcaps and exposed wheel nuts.
Renault Australia declares a profit of $190,000 at the close of 1978, mainly due to the Ford Cortina deal.
In an effort to promote a positive future for the Renault Australia plant, the 18GTS is given a pre-release in April 1978, with a view to introducing it as a successor to the lamented Renault 16. Local assembly of the 18GTS was proposed to commence in late 1978.
Virage: Introduced February 1978 at the Melbourne Motor Show. The Virage was an improved 12 1.4, the name being chosen, after approval by the parent company in France, to emphasise its European origins after a period emphasising the Australian credentials of the 12, especially in a period of rapidly escalating prices and when the VW Golf and “European Formula” Escort II heavily promoted their own European origins. The main difference being four Lucas sealed beam headlights (derived from the US specification Renault 12) replacing the previous rectangular Cibie lights with integral halogen driving lights. Otherwise, apart from the Virage badges, the trim and mechanical specification were identical to the 12 1.4. Two versions were available, the Virage and Virage Special in sedan and station sedan versions.
Following the profit of 1978, a positive future is predicted for the Renault Australia plant, with the new 20TS being introduced, the 18GTS proposed for late in the year, and the plant running at near capacity, with a waiting list for Peugeot 504 models, due to the commitment to Ford for Cortina wagon production.
Virage: Continues basically unchanged, apart from a new range of paint colours. Also the slightly wider rear axle beam with a slightly wider track is included later in the year.
20TS: Introduced March 1979. Following the Renault 30 being rejected in favour of the Peugeot 604, the 20TS (Touring Sports) was released as a replacement for the 16. A five-door hatchback featuring a new 2-litre (Douvrin) single overhead cam motor, also used by Peugeot and later Citroen, and either a four speed manual or three speed automatic gearbox.
Initially the model was fully imported, with 200 cars having vinyl trim and manual door locks. Later it was locally assembled with 35% local content, featuring locally developed cloth trim and central door locking. Standard features were stereo AM/FM cassette player, remote adjustable exterior door mirror, hydraulic height headlight adjustment by the driver and provision for optional integrated air conditioning.
The introduction of the $14,500 (manual trans) 20TS was a further move upmarket for Renault, impinging on the Peugeot 504 market sector.
The release of the Renault 18GTS in April 1980, delayed by plant capacity, is the only bright spot for Renault Australia. The move upmarket is an attempt to make more money from fewer cars, with currency exchange rates and changes in Government policy making things tough for Renault. Ford was not going to extend the contract for the assembly of Cortina wagons from September 1980, following the introduction of the TF Cortina. Renault courted Volvo, with the idea of transferring the Volvo assembly operation from Motor Producers in Clayton,however the deal was rejected by Volvo by June 1980.
At the end of 1980, Renault Australia declared a loss of $4 million in 1980, bringing its accumulated losses to more than $20 million since acquiring the West Heidelberg factory in 1966.
Virage. The Virage sedan is continued until the release of the 18GTS in April 1980. Production of the Virage wagon continues until August, with the release of the 18GTS wagon.
18GTS. Locally assembled. The 18GTS is billed as Renault’s “World Car”, the body being based on their previous ESV and Epure concepts. The engine is a 1647cc alloy motor derived from the Renault 16, featuring a non-crossflow cylinder head. A five-speed gearbox was standard, with a three speed automatic gearbox optional. The 18GTS wagon was released in August 1980. Central locking, a Sanyo radio cassette stereo and vinyl trim was standard, with cloth trim, metallic paint, alloy wheels and locally sourced air conditioning optional. The model was another upmarket leap for Renault, with a retail price commencing at $10,600.
20TS. Now locally assembled, with locally sourced air conditioning available as an option.
Following the loss of the Cortina assembly contract, the negative decision by Volvo to relocate, and other potential opportunities, the decision was made by Renault to cease their Australian assembly operations. The plant had been operating at a greatly reduced production volume, at times 15 per day, with 30 vehicles per day being considered break-even in a plant with a capacity of 60 per day.
On July 22, Renault Australia managing director Bernard Vernoux announced to Victorian and NSW dealers and press gathered at the Airport Hilton Hotel in Sydney. That effective from 1st November 1981, Renault Importers, a subsidiary of LNC Industries Ltd, was to assume responsibility for the importation, marketing and after sales support of all Renault passenger cars. Doug Donaldson, Managing Director of LNC Industries, described becoming Renault Concessionaire as the second biggest thrill of his life. The first being when LNC acquired responsibility for the importation and marketing of Volkswagen cars in 1968.
Peugeot 505 local assembly was taken on by Leyland Australia at their Enfield, Sydney plant from September 1981.