2020 marks another French automotive milestone as the spacious and extremely comfortable middle-class Renault 16 proudly celebrates its 55th birthday.
Produced by the French marque Renault between 1965 and 1980, the innovative 16 was promoted as one of the first successful hatchback body-styled cars and offered its prospective family buyers more space, a large tailgate and boot space than ever seen before in a car of its class.
The Renault 16 was designed in response to the unexpected baby boom of the 1960s and was an instant automotive sensation when it was presented in March 1965, making the conventional hatchback models look more ‘pipe and slippers’ than ever before.
Fully independent suspension provided the extreme comfort while a monocoque body and front-wheel-drive left its competitors looking dated. The Renault 16TX was quick, luxurious but like all its brothers came with a column-change gearbox and oversized bench seat which seemed to hinder success outside of the continent.
In 1965, the Renault 16 celebrated its trade fair premiere at the Geneva Motor Show with an overwhelming press response quoting “Victory of reason: bigger inside than outside” followed by top sales results and the “Car of the Year 1965” award.
In 1972 the one-millionth Renault 16 rolled off the assembly line in Sandouville but the story continued until 1980 with Renault building a total of 1,845,959 units of this milestone in the company’s history.
Recent years have seen the stylish French machine almost disappear from the classic car scene with only around 80 – 90 in existence. In 2018 we caught up with the guys at Beamish in the northeast of England and the Renault 16 Club happened to be showcasing around 10 of the 16 variants; all of which were in remarkable condition and worthy of any close scrutiny.
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