Monday, January 26, 2015

5k: Semi-Autotragic: 1966 Renault R8 Auto

 The Renault R8 was a squared off version of the curvy Dauphine (from where it borrowed its mechanical components) and is known for its crazy R8 Gordini .  The R8 used a Beetle style rear engine / rear drive setup but is an odd car to find on the road today and just odd enough to qualify as cool. Find this 1966 Renault R8 offered for $7,500 in Orange County, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Randall B.

The R8 will turn heads at any automotive gathering, not because it is exceptionally styled, but simply because it is seldom seen on the road today.  It would be tempting to turn this into a Gordini clone...and if you don't feel that way, just watch this video about G-Day and you will by the end.

Tucked away behind the rear swing axle setup that would make Ralph Nader blush is a 956cc  Cléon-Fonte inline-4 that was rated at 51 horsepower.  It isn't a paradigm of power and virtue, but it will push the 1700 lb sedan around enough that you will appreciate the 4-wheel disc brakes.

This particular R8 has the dreaded push-button automatic transmission, a device that resembles a 3-speed manual, but uses a ferromagnetic coupler to automatically declutch the engine from the trans and allow herky-jerky gear changes.  The system is entirely electromechanical (unlike VW's Autostick purgatory practice device) and might be novel for a few minutes.

See another oddball offered for cheap?


  1. I like these because the front kind of looks like it is wearing an angry face.

  2. Engine is in the rear but Inline 4 water cooled vs VW aircooled Boxer/pancake ! Are you smokin whack ?

    1. Not an uncommon layout way-back-when, lots of Fiats were built that way too. VW built some diesel Vanagons that way in the '80s, IIRC.

  3. I would have bought this months ago, but for the auto tranny.

  4. I am into French stuff, but I was not aware of this semi-automatic in a Renault. Except for that, the car is nice.

    Great find on that G-day video. That thing is nostalgia to the max.

  5. Need to set up a drag race between this thing and an autostick Beetle.

    All you'd need is one guy to flag the start, then jog down to the other end of the strip and flag the finish.


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