The great war has ended and the continent was destroyed. The resources were limited, the people poor, but the will to start the reconstruction large.
USINES RENOIR in southwest Frunia (aka France, but my companies are located in the Automation World) have been founded by Raymond Renoir in 1905 and produced looms, bicycles and some cars, basic three-wheelers or some better motirbike-based fourwheelers for the masses before the war started.
The factory was bombed, but still good enough to be rebuilt, and what lacked the most was a cheap, reliable and efficient van. So the owner, Charles Renoir, decided to build exactly that.
In 1946, the Renoir Fourgon arrived, a very simple and basic car, but more capable than it looks.
Based on a ladder frame with leaf springs, it offered almost 4500 liter cargo space despite being four meter short. Being made full of steel, the car was immune to wind and weahter (until it started to rust, but none of the 40s cars lasted long by default). Nevertheless it was very basic, having only a steering wheel, three pedals, a three-speed manual, an odometer and a warning light if running out of fuel. The two seats were made of space frame with canvas fabric.
The engine was a 1,1 liter OHV inline four, remarkably powerful with 45 horsepower. Two eco carburetors were a quite complex and sophisticated fuel system, but otherwise everything in the engine was basic but used parts made with a satisfying build quality considering the economy had been down to zero.
The Fourgon was able to reach 123 kph, a lot when most simple passenger cars were barely able to maintain a speed of 100 kph. Those 100 were reached after 25 seconds - not that big problem as the roads were empty. The consumption was more than acceptable with 14,7 liter, but it required regular gas - but most gas sold had a poor quality, and therefore the Fourgon was only usable if the Gasmean army sold their better-quality-gas to the public, what luckily happened.
The Fourgon was not as terrible to drive as its low $ 7440 price indicates, and $ 300 annual maintenance pleased many Frunian companies that were on a tight budget while re-starting their businesses. The Renoir Fourgon had a good start as delivery vehicle. Yes, there were others sold for $ 6000 but those were avoided within the next 24 months when the Frunian economy started to recover, while the qualities of the Fourgon were still desired.
1950 - a risky move
Charles Renoir wished he was named with the rich and beautiful. Barely possible if the one and only product is a small basic van. In april Renoir unveiled a 4,5 meter two-door sedan, the Renoir Gaulois. The car’s styling by the company’s designer Hugo Curvilleux was totally extravagant as Renoir aimed for local artists and the haute couture.
The ladder frame swapped leaf springs against coil springs for a ride comfort accepted in the premium class, and power came from a new 1,9 liter inline six-cylinder, the Série B engine, while the 1,1 was now named Série A. The “B” made use of two new two-barrel carburetors, the rest was more or less the same as in the “A” despite size and cylinder count. The result were 77 horsepower, definitely enough for an upper-class car. The interior was made of fine materials and very premium indeed, and the car had a standard AM radio.
With 16,5 seconds acceleration, the Gaulois kept up with sports cars or the models of Gasmean soldiers, and 151 kph top speed were remarkable for a family car, while 15,7 liter regular gas were a reasonnable consumption. Even the price was not exaggerated in comparison to its power and comfort with $ 12.000, but the car had not been a real success.
First of all, Renoir was known as a brand for the “blue collar”, and aiming directly at the Frunian “white collar” avantgarde and haute couture might have been irritating. Yes, Renoir sold almost 10.000 of those in Frunia until 1955, but the developement costs where immense.
As Renoir wasted almost all their money on the Gaulois, only little improvements were made in their main product, the Fourgon.
Some smaller saftety improvements, like a second wiper, electric indicators, an improved suspension geometry and setup and a more refined engine with slighty better reliability and response were the benefits of Phase II models.
The Fourgon phase II performed a little better on the road, as it now needed 24 seconds to 100 and could theoretically reach 124 kph. More important was the lower consumption, dropping to 13,6 liter. The price rose only marginally to $ 7460. As the overall demand was lower as in 1946 because there were more vehicles to choose from, the sales were quite good in relation. The Fourgon remained a very common vehicle on Frunian roads.