Reinastella to Romania

Renault has run the whole gamut of social frontiers. It has been clever with Dacia, what The Times has called the Ryanair of the road, selling the best part of 105,000 in France, more than Fiat, Toyota or Opel. Yet in the 1920s it was, as David Scott-Moncrieff might have put it, “purveyor of carriages to the nobility and gentry.” The grandly titled Reinastella was a straight-eight of 7 litres.

from: Dove Publishing's The Renault File - 1998 click to read The large, charismatic, and expensive 40CV was to have set the pattern for a dynasty of aristocratic Renaults. Its fine mechanical servo brakes, driven off the gearbox were afterwards made under licence by Rolls-Royce, always was fussy about brakes. Sleeve valves were planned to try and keep up with the glamour makes, for which Renault felt itself a match. Silencer cut-outs on some early cars were meant to enhance the effect. Alas the model was in some respects Louis Renault's folie de grandeur. He desperately wanted to match Bentley, Hispano-Suiza, and Mercedes.

After the fall of Louis Renault amid allegations of wartime collaboration, the nationalised Regie Renault was recruited by the rising secretary general of the Romanian communist party, Nicolae Ceauşescu, soon to be president in the council of state and ultimately of the country. The Regie furnished a motor industry making Renault lookalikes, not bad cars for sale in the Eastern bloc, where Trabants were the last word in high-tech quality and reliability.

2009 Dacia Duster driven by Alain Prost in the Trophee Andros The fall of the old regime and Romanian entry to Europe wrought change, Renault took control in September 1999, introducing the Logan in 2004 for sale to East Europe and Russia. This did rather better than expected. One car in three on its home market was a Logan and new models introduced in the West enabled Renault to keep a 22 per cent share of France. The Dacia Sandero (€7,800 - £6740) sells better than the Peugeot 308 or the VW Polo. Roadgoing Ryanairs are flying.

Dacia Logan pick-up