Founded by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand in 1898, the company that would become France's biggest automobile manufacturer started humbly enough, with a solitary 1¾hp De Dion-engined prototype, the sprung rear axle of which would soon be copied by many contemporaries. Production at the Billancourt factory was soon under way on a large scale, demand for its products being enhanced by the performance of Renault cars in the great inter-city races so popular in France at the turn of the 19th Century.
From the outset Renault engineering was of the highest quality, as exemplified by this 3½hp De Dion-Bouton engined Type C, which is typical of the first generation of Renault cars. The Type C was introduced in 1900 and manufactured alongside the Type B. The existing chassis layout was retained, but now the 450cc single-cylinder engine was water-cooled and more powerful, being rated at 3CV as opposed to the air-cooled engine's 2CV. Rather than place the engine's cooling radiator at the front of the car like rival manufacturers, Renault chose to fit two separate radiators, one either side of the bonnet. Power was transmitted to the rear wheels via a three-speed gearbox and bevel-drive back axle, while retardation was achieved by means of a brake on the transmission and drum brakes at the rear. When fitted with the usual open two-seater body, the Type C weighed 450kg (990lb) and had a top speed of around 30km/h (18.6mph).
This early De Dion-engined Renault was owned for many years by John Jonker in Holland, as evidenced by FIA papers in his name in the accompanying history file. Mr Jonker kept the car for many years, completing in excess of 25 London to Brighton Runs, including the 1996 Centenary. The car was restored in the early 1980s and is finished in yellow with black timber interior and green leather upholstery.
In 2007, the Renault came to the UK and was bought and registered by Tim Moore of Cambridge, who ran it for a number of years before passing it on to Charles Pipkin. Mr Pipkin sold 'BS 8424' to the current vendor in 2015. That year's London to Brighton Run was successfully completed, and the Renault also has an entry in the 2016 Run. As a relatively elderly car, it has a low starting number, thus ensuring an early start to clear the London traffic before it builds up. Described by the vendor as in generally 'first class' condition, and only sold because of his advancing age, this early De Dion-engined Renault is offered with the aforementioned history file and a V5C Registration Certificate.