Daniel Ricciardo drives Australia’s oldest Renault for new book

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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Oldest Renault book cover Oldest Renault book cover

The 120-year old Renault is a far cry from the Aussie hot-shoe's current 600hp F1 car

Aussie F1 hot-shoe Daniel Ricciardo got more than he bargained for when he arrived at a photoshoot with one of the first Renault cars built by Louis Renault 120 years ago.

The Renault Type A – the 110th Renault ever made, was to be photographed alongside the current Renault F1 driver to be included in a new book set to be released December 2019.

Arriving at the photoshoot in his hometown of Perth, Western Australia ; he was promptly offered a drive in the primitive vehicle.

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"You want me to drive that?" He laughed.

But the affable Aussie was up for the challenge and was soon behind the… handles of the 120-year old car, whose mere 1.75hp engine is in stark contrast to his ‘work car’: a 600hp F1 racer.

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The photographs and story of Ricciardo’s drive features in a new book by noted Australian motoring historian Graeme Cocks, titled: "Louis Renault’s Amazing Type A".

The book retraces the story of the young son of a button-maker from Paris, designing his own car and producing a prototype in his family’s garden shed in 1898.

While other car makers were utilising big, heavy drivetrains and oversized engines – young Louis believed that he could achieve better performance with a revolutionary approach.

Louis Renault’s Type A housed a small engine at the front of the car, with a clutch behind the engine running into a gearbox and a tail-shaft driving a differential on the rear axle.

Sounds rather pedestrian by today’s standards, but this was truly revolutionary in a pre-1900s era.

The Type A was Louis’ – and Renault’s for that matter – first race car. In 1899 Louis raced the car in a number of sporting events around Paris, winning the Paris-Trouville race.

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"Louis Renault’s Amazing Type A" recounts the development of the Type A, its racing successes and the challenges faced by young Louis in protecting his beloved invention from bigger manufacturers seeking to steal his patents.

It goes on to look at the restoration of a Type A owned by Australian car collector Peter Briggs, and the long road it took to see the primitive automobile compete at the London to Brighton veteran car rally.

Daniel Riccardo features in the last chapter, closing the circle which began 120 years ago, when a young Parisian made good on his ambitions to produce a car better than anyone else.

"Louis Renault’s Amazing Type A" by Graeme Cocks is available from the publisher, Motoring Past Vintage Publishing, at www.motoringpast.com.au

 

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