André Renoir took over the lead. Since 1968 he worked in the company in a leading position, after starting as mechanic, then as production worker and as salesman. From 1963 to 68 he wanted to have done almost every job to have a great understanding for every process.
Renoir had the image of reliable boredom in the early 70s - mostly gone were extravagant styling (Gaulois) or innovative concepts (Gaston). Even the Supérieur was quite modest for a premium car.
In the late 60s Renoir wanted to akquire Wagner but lost against CMT - so the upmarket models had to rely on the totally underpowered and outdated Série B six-cylinder. Wagner had both a very modern six-cylinder nearlly finished in developement and an image of quality, innovation and exclusivity.
When the Renoir Supérieur came out in 1969, the company started working on a new V6 trying to beat Wagner’s latest engine - and to get back the massive amount of money spent, it led the way to new and more exclusive cars of a totally working-class brand.
André Renoir replaced the aged designer Hugo Cuvrilleux wiith the young Michel Dubois. The task was creating a corporate identity, and changing Renoir into a synonyme for “innovation” without neglecting the regular customers looking for modesty and reliability.
Since 1971, not a single new update had been presented. New colors, interior patterns and minor detail changes like better seats or better noise cancelling on some models had to be enough to keep the buyers interested in Renoir vehicles. The balance sheets noted giant developement expenses and huge losses even if the thrifty D-engines helped being not totally hit in the fuel crisis.
In early March 1974 at the great auto salon, Renoir stole most other manufactors the show. One major facelift and three new models were basically a complete new model lineup.
The eye-catcher was Renoir’s new sports car. With the end of the first generation Vitesse in 1970, Renoir no longer offered a real sports car - the second generation became a conservative looking pony car without serious sporty ambitions. André Renoir considered this a mistake and gave Dubois the task to create a radically modern sports car AND quoting the original Vitesse as much as possible. So a rear engine was set. The final draft was quite small, having a length of only 3,7 meter and a weight of 880 kilogram.
The car named Grand Prix went for the ultra-modern wedge styling, trying to adapt the basic shape of the 1962 Vitesse. The car could not be sold due to it’s name, as the first Vitesse was no great success and the brand not known for highend-vehicles.
The chassis was using four double wishbone links just like all Wagner cars, but outstanding was the use of corrosion resistant material for both monocoque and panels - Renoirs new showpiece should still look great in a few years to pave the way as best as it could for new upmarket Renoir cars.
The engine was more or less a copy of Wagner’s 280, a full aluminium 60 degree V6 featuring a SOHC 24 valvetrain. The size was about the same with 2,7 liter, but it’s output was just 151 horsepower, while Wagner had 162 in 1968 and 164 since 1972. While Wagner relied on injection, Renoir used two four-barrel carburetors. Nevertheless, the new engine allowed superb performance. Only 6,18 seconds were needed to see 100 kph on the speedometer, and 207 kph top speed were enough to be among the fastest on a public highway. 10,6 liter regular unleaded were astonishingly low - one reason for it’s surprising and immense success, as the fuel Crisis increased interest for consumption even for sports cars.
Not to forget the $23.600 price, quite low for a car featuring very progressive design, modern technology and rust-resistant steel. All Renoir markets, Frunia, Hetvesia and Archana noted great sales. The new engine was a strong and weak point at the same time, as it was powerful and a giant step foward, but very unreliable as Renoir lacked experience in high performance engines.
The same engine was now offered in the Supérieur. The days of the underpowered 1,9 liter OHV inline engine were counted. Now 151 horsepower allowed for 190 kph top speed and 10 seconds acceleration, but the consumption altered to 15,6 liter. A great 8-track stereo, medium compound tires, front power windows, leather seats, central locks - the trim level was excellent for a Frunian car. Even aircondition was available as option. While the Supérieur 19i was accessible for $17.400, the 27 TX needed $ 23.200 to buy.
The 27TX model changed from a modest and pleasant car to a high-performer attacking the market leaders. Together with the more than adequate power came also hydropneumatic suspension, increasing the comfort even further. The car became faster and more serious, having not the approach to be the unconventional and reliable alternative to others but to attack. For that reason, the new front design became edgier, underlining that this car IS a serious attacker and to match the new design language from Dubois.
The sales established on a solid level in the premium and family premium segment on all three Renoir markets, but the car was soon known for reliability issues. The Supérieur 27 TX was therefore still only “the alternative”, although a relatively successful one like the 19i before it.
To keep former 19i buyers, the return of the 23D was out of question. Unlike before, Renoir made a visual difference between the cars. While the 27 TX had a glass cover over the headlights, the 23 had none and came with “sunken” headlights. For $ 16.900 the car now offered a little more safety and a new standard 8 track radio. The major change was under the hood, the Série D now ran on unleaded fuel - good for the environment and preparing the car for the future. Despite this, the output increased to 75 horsepower and the smoothness improved, even if on a very low level. The reliability issues from very early D engines were cured on warranty, and now the engines were among the rather sturdy ones due to the low stress.
The performance increase was only minor, now the car needed 16,7s to 100 kph, 150 were the maximum. 12,4l consumption were not longer the great advantage over the competitors that improved their economy dramatically after 1973.
Still a popular taxi or salesman vehicle, but also still “the alternative”, selling less than the 27 TX.
To fill the gap between the Supérieur 23D and the old Compagnon and to replace the very aged Avenue that only played a role as rental, fleet or governmental car, Renoir presented a compact car called Constable.
As usual on cars of that time, it was a hatchback, offered as three-door in base and TL trim and as TL five-door wagon. The ambitious idea was to offer a car “for everyone”, serving all purposes. The handling was nothing to really complain about, but the suspension was still very soft and the ride high - the car should be able to go nearlly anywhere, being comfortable and taking some load. Sporty Drivers should continue to buy the Compagnon. To please almost everyone, the car was styled as conservative as the 1971-onwards Compagnon, but showed the “ligne radicale” new corporate design language at the same time.
The Constable 1400 kept the Série C engines mostly known from the Compagnon, but they were adapted for unleaded fuel. This let the horsepower drop to 63, but helped the environment and made the car ready for the future if leaded fuel would not be offered one day.
The chassis was designed to be simple and efficient, a transverse FWD layout with front McPherson struts and rear torsion beam. With a length of 3,87 meter the car fit perfectly in the Frunian family segment.
Small plastic bumpers, no right mirror, no rear wiper - the car looked terribly basic on the first look - but it was not. It had quite good seats with thick upholstery, many compartments, engine temperature gauge and other things that revealed a standard interior, added by a basic radio.
With a four-speed manual, the car made strong 13,7 seconds to 100 kph and was able to run 142 kph. 11,2 liter consumption were not too much, so the Série C was still an adequate engine for the mid-70s. Relying on proven technique also kept the price low - $ 11.500 were only 200 more than the Compagnon Sport, but the Compagnon was often sold with Discounts after the introduction of the Constable.
The TL model shared body and engine and still featured the same four-speed manual, as automatic was uncommon in Frunia below the premium segment.
For a compact car, the TL had a lot to offer: Power steering, standard radio, RPM counter, interval wipers, velours cloth, economy gauge, power windows.
The heavier weight and comfort features slowed the acceleration down to 14,6 seconds, and 12 liter consumption were close to some midsize cars with similar trim and performance. But $ 12.900 were a good price for the comfort offered.
Renoir still had plenty of possibilities to improve the TL towards “the perfect car for everyone” idea. And they did.
- wagon Body for maximum roominess and versatility
- D engine with better economy and more power
- automatic transmission, as the better torque allows for it.
The result was the TLD. It had one weak point: $ 15.400, hefty $ 3900 more than the 1400 base model. A lot of money for a family car, a bargain for a premium family car. And this was exactly the gap where Renoir was aiming at: Linking the simpler Constables and the Supérieur.
Indeed, the TLD was a big deal: Large trunk, high trim level, excellent comfort, capable of taking bad roads, quite reliable and acceptable at both performance and economy considering what it offers.
The 75 horsepower D engine accelerated the car in 14,2 seconds to 100 kph and up to 144, needing 12,1 liter unleaded gas.
On the markets, the 1400 and the 1400 TL sold only mediocre. Willing to please everyone, the car lacked profile and real Innovation.
Surprisingly, the 2300 TLD became a giant success and sold as much as 1400 and 1400 TL combined, as it was the most consequent car considering it’s concept - to offer a car fulfilling every wish in a reasonnable way at a realistic price. Plus, the rear design of the wagon was a lot more daring and unique than the three-door.
Renoir was still best known for the Fourgon that was one of the symbols of the resurrection after the war. After many doubts and against some opposition, André Renoir gave green light for a new one exactly re-interpreting the original one.
Ladder frame with front longitudinal engine, rear wheel drive and tiny dimensions, added by solid axles in fronat and rear - the only difference was using coils in the front, where the 1946 Fourgon had also leaf springs.
The car had a length of only 3,8 meter, and the engine bay was very small, so the relatively large D engine seperated driver and passenger by filling some part of the interior, so the occupants sat cramped in the narrow car. In Addition, the car featured exactly no comfort features, just like the original Fourgon. Well, there is definitely some progress to the Fourgon I, but in relation to the common standard of it’s time the Fourgon II was very basic.
What really improved was the performance: The 75 horsepower from the 2.3D engine propelled the car to 100 kph in only 11,5 seconds, and 139 kph were the top speed. Especially for cars being in use all day, 10,4 Liter consumption were a strong Argument for the new Fourgon. The main scenario they were built for was city delivery, often accelerating from standstill and operating in narrow alleys and crowded areas. For $ 10.900 it was an interessing and quite successful addition to Renoir’s delivery vehicle portfolio.