2015 marks 50 years since the ingenious Renault 16 rolled off the production line. Voted 'Car of the Year' in 1966, the R16 was the first prestige vehicle to feature a tailgate, providing unprecedented versatility for its day.
In early 1965, during the post-war boom, Renault unveiled the innovative R16 at the Geneva Motor Show. This new hatchback featured an original body shape founded on a two-box design complete with a tailgate for access to the boot.
The new model combined functional qualities with elegant looks and no fewer than six windows, carrying over the ingredients that were behind the success of the Renault 4 to an upmarket family vehicle. It was the perfect family car.
The project to design a successor to the Frégate was an ambitious one, especially as Pierre Dreyfus, Renault's CEO from 1955 to 1975, wanted it to stand out from its rivals. He said: "We have to take a different approach. Cars can't just be four seats and a boot any longer. They must be viewed as a volume."
The result was the Renault 16; a radical car penned by Gaston Juchet and signed off by Dreyfus who predicted it would be "a car for families drawn by modern consumer society."
From 1973 until the end of the model's career in 1980, the Renault 16 was available with a 93hp 1,647cc engine for the TX version. Its top speed on a circuit was 109mph, while equipment included central locking and inertia reel seatbelts, innovative features that contributed to improving the quality of Renault 16 owners' everyday lives.
In the course of the Renault 16's lifetime, 1,851,502 units were made, chiefly at Renault's purpose-built Sandouville plant in Normandy.