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Renault 16 in the driving report: At 16 you still have dreams

Rossen Gargolov
Renault 16 in the driving report
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E s is the sound that reminds us of the Renault 16 helps. That hoarse, melodic sound of the long-stroke aluminum engine with the short push rods. Back then, car-loving schoolchildren could recognize every car that drove into the teacher's parking lot by the sound of the engine.

Great potential as a design milestone

The Audi 100 LS with its sonorous humming, the BMW 2002 with its bright rattle, the Ford Capri 1700 GT of the sports teacher with its dull sizzling. The most beautiful voice, of course, was the hatchback Renault 16 with a large key - velvety, round, and supple, it gurgled the melody of comfortable travel. This is exactly how it drove, as we later discovered. He enjoyed long tours to Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin under his torsion-sprung, narrow 14-inch wheels. One never again rolled through the transit with a constant hundred and ten in a less stressful way. Two Renault 16s were parked on the narrow asphalt space between the gym and the auditorium. It was the quota foreigners from the pedagogue paddock, which is otherwise dominated by German brands. A white 71 Renault 16 TL and an orange 76 Renault 16 TS. Even at the end of the seventies they looked almost as modern and avant-garde as a Citroën DS or an NSU Ro 80.

At the wheel of the Renault 16 sat a progressive generation of teachers who introduced group work in the class and liked to volunteer Liaison teacher took over. The individual hatchback automobile from France also owes its later career in student circles to its intellectual charm. Perhaps because it was above all philistine suspicion. In addition to the favored little brother Renault 4, Francophile wanderlust sufferers also liked to drive the Renault 16 in groups of four because of the larger space available, especially in the German-Dutch border area. The rapid decline in value of the French sedan chair made it affordable, and its pronounced susceptibility to rust did not bother the students.

For decades it was quiet around the Renault 16, only a few enthusiasts recognized the great potential here in this country as a design milestone with ambitious technology. He had to be at least 30 before anyone noticed him.

Nonconformist with cool functionality

The true classical worshipers were probably bothered by its cool functionality, which 40 years ago earned it the coveted title 'Car of the Year' and it formalized itKeeping it fresh for 15 years. The Renault 16 is basically the little man's DS. Gaston Juchet from the Bureau de Style created the body, which is idiosyncratic in details, with the exemplary aerodynamics (CW value 0.39) and the characteristic roof bars, which increase the rigidity of the structure. Paradoxically, the Renault 16 was too uncool for the youngtimer community. Too few cylinders, too little displacement, not enough fashion.

Such a timeless, avant-garde nonconformist is simply not suitable for a cult mobile. Only the Dutch apparently saw it differently and kept larger herds of this endangered species, from which today beautifully restored Renault 16 TS and TX with the coveted yellow headlights can be bred. These are the names of the most popular versions of the French trendsetter, apart from the original model.

For the Renault 16 top models, the aluminum engine was given a cross-flow cylinder head newly designed by Amedée Gordini with V-shaped hanging valves and hemispherical combustion chambers donated. The elastic engine also lived out its high revving power in the Alpine A110 and the Lotus Europa.

Curious: space miracle with different center distances

Renault 16 TS and TX with their 83 and 93 hp use the potential of the elaborately designed chassis. At a time when Opel, Ford, Glas and Fiat still stuck to the tight, cheap solution, rigid axles and leaf springs, Renault installed torsion bar suspensions that were easy to swallow on long-armed longitudinal swing arms. Although they cause considerable lateral inclination in curves, on the other hand they enable the incredibly smooth rolling on bad roads, which is still fascinating every time you drive a Renault 16.

In harmony with the generous amount of space and the sevenfold variable upholstery, the Renault 16 gives the impression of a commode living room on wheels that can be converted into a bedroom or a children's room as required. The sliding back seat can be set up outdoors in just a few simple steps.

Thanks to the large tailgate, a generous cargo space opens up. Of course, the long wheelbase of at least 2.65 meters is also involved in the space miracle Renault 16. At just 4.23 meters in length, the Renault 16 is shorter than a VW 1600. Due to the traditional French design of the front-wheel drive with the gearbox in front of the front axle, the front overhang is extremely short. The staggered rear torsion bars on the Renault 16 create the oddity of different center distances - 2.71 meters on the left, 2.65 meters on the right.

Natural beauty: headstrong and full of character

Today, at its 40th, the German Renault 16 Club has 112 members - the delicate flower of a narrow niche. Jürgen Elsner from Cologne drives the original white type, Dietrich Wenner from Paderborn drives the 68 Renault 16 TS in brown metallic. The rendezvous on an old factory site in Deutz is suitable for everyone involvedto the déja vu experience. The Renault 16s roll into pose, bubbling softly. Driver change for a test lap in the Renault 16. The sofa-soft seats greet the buttocks in a friendly way, the pretty Jaeger instruments reflect like small make-up mirrors.

The narrow high car offers a very cozy feeling of space. The upright sitting position behind the steep windshield of the Renault 16 fits, the steering wheel gearshift works smoothly and precisely. The Renault 16 is like some women. It's not love at first sight, but you like them straight away. Dated a few times and something could develop, you think behind the skinny two-spoke steering wheel. And listen to the beautiful voice of the elastic engine while the car is tied up on the sunny country road towards the Rhine ferry.

Design of the Renault 16: Exemplary ratio of length to wheelbase

In curves Courageous turning is required, the Renault 16 noticeably understeer. In general, the steering is quite indirect and not free from drive influences. A likeable car also needs weaknesses. The car is reflected in the water. The Renault 16 TS wears more make-up than the almost unvarnished archetype. He thereby emphasizes his natural beauty, which is idiosyncratic and full of character. When viewed from the front, it looks most impressive, as the stretched lines are more dominant than its narrow silhouette.

The Cologne design professor Paolo Tumminelli admires the Renault 16 as a pioneering design personality: 'He is a Functional automobile with character and embodies the contemporary French austerity. However, it is softened by loving details and skillfully placed beads. Particularly for today, the relationship between length and wheelbase is exemplary. ' So there could still be something new with the Renault 16. Not a dream car, but one with many hidden charms that want to be discovered - starting with the sound of the engine.


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