111-YEAR-OLD RENAULT WITH ECHOES OF DOWNTON ABBEY

FOR SALE WITH H&H CLASSICS ON JULY 22 FOR £45,000 TO £50,000

17/07/2020    

Based in Somerset this wonderful 111 year old 1909 Renault Type AZ 12/16HP Laundaulette with coachwork by Lucas of London shows all the flair that the French are famous for combined here with British coachwork.

It comes to the H&H Classics sale from a deceased estate and will be sold on July 22nd in a live auction online. The car has echoes of the TV series Downton Abbey as Lord Grantham was struggling to maintain the Downton estate so a more expensive car like a Rolls-Royce would have been beyond his reach and instead had to settle for a 1911 Renault 12/16 Landaulette.

An elegant town carriage which was chosen as transport by a descendant of the Duke of Wellington to celebrate her family’s association with ‘Number One, London’ (a.k.a. Apsley House and the Wellington Museum) a few years ago, this original bodied Renault is worthy of close inspection and would make a fine addition to any Edwardian collection.

Wonderfully detailed from its engraved hubcaps and Rotax ‘Mangin Lens Mirror’ headlamps to its luxurious rear cabin, this Landaulette started readily and ran well during the recent H&H Classics photography session. It has had a recent thorough engine overhaul by veteran & vintage specialists Henal Engineering Ltd of East Sussex.

The car boasts its original Lucas of London Landaulette coachwork and has been uprated with an electric starter and Zenith carburettor.

These days we think of Renault as a maker of a range of modest cars but a century ago they produced everything from taxis to tractors. Launched in 1898 the marque had by 1912 established itself as one of the pre-eminent European car manufacturers. The 12/16 model, introduced in 1909, was one of Renault’s more luxurious offerings and was bodied by various independent coachbuilders, the practice at the time.

A carriage builder with premises on Oxford Street, North Audley Street and Brixton Hill, Frederick William Lucas - trading as Lucas of London and later FW Lucas (1922) Ltd – was chosen to body chassis 15067 as a Landaulette. The driver and front seat passenger were sheltered by a fixed wooden roof and windscreen, while those in the rear benefited from a glazed division, a convertible soft-top, sumptuous brocade trimmed upholstery and carriage-style ‘drop down’ side windows. Supplied new via ‘Renault Freres Ltd for Great Britain and the Colonies’, the Type AZ was first road registered as ‘KN 18’ by Kent County Council. Known to have subsequently belonged to Mrs D Green of Trowbridge in Wiltshire, the Landaulette’s early history is otherwise a mystery.

Resident in America for a time before being repatriated in 1990, chassis 15067 was later purchased from Bob Bentley of Classic Automobiles Ltd by renowned Edwardian motorcar collector Tony Stephens. Mr Stephens had the Type AZ repainted in its current Green livery with Yellow coachlines and remembers it ‘running well with sharp steering and a fair transmission’. Sold by Bob Bentley on Mr Stephens’ behalf to Mrs Loveday of Cranbrook, Kent in August 2008, the Landaulette entered the current ownership three years later. Part of a private collection ever since, the Renault has been treated to a thorough engine overhaul by Veteran and Vintage specialist Henal Engineering Ltd of East Sussex plus the fitting of a Zenith carburettor and electric starter.

Model Background:

Already a household name by the time Ferenc Szisz won the 1906 French Grand Prix aboard its fearsome 13-litre AK 90CV racer, Renault continued to prosper and innovate up until the outbreak of World War I. Introduced in 1909, the Renault 12CV was based around a sturdy ladder-frame chassis equipped with all-round leaf-sprung suspension (semi-elliptic front / three quarter-elliptic back), shaft drive and hand lever operated rear-wheel brakes. Powered by a four-cylinder 2.4 litre (bore 80mm x stroke 120mm) L-head engine allied to three-speed manual transmission, the 12CV featured magneto ignition and thermo-siphon cooling. Available with a choice of steering column rake and chassis rail profile depending upon the style of coachwork fitted, the model helped lift Renault's sales from 1,615 in 1906 to 5,100 in 1910. Progressively developed to maintain its market appeal, the 12CV evolved through AZ (1909), BZ (1910), CB (1911/1912) and DG (1913/1914) guises. However, each and every 12CV sported Renault's `trademark' bulkhead-mounted radiator and coal-scuttle bonnet.

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