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Renault R10. The "luxury compact" that lengthened the body of the R8

In 1965 Renault presented the R16 at the Paris Motor Show. A model for the mid-market segment with a revolutionary bodywork thanks to its practical fifth door. However, at that same meeting, the diamond brand also launched a continuation model based on the R8 and its “all behind” scheme. It was the R10, thought to be an intermediate option between the R8 and the R16, although it finally remained as the "luxury compact" protagonist of the end of rear-wheel drive in Renault tourism.

In the mid-sixties Renault was one of the leading brands in the transition from rear to front engine. In addition, this was accompanied by a gradual renewal of the range in which they were appearing new models specifically designed for the urban middle classes. In this sense, the most paradigmatic was the R16. A completely new concept. In which the versatility of uses and the large practicable trunk with a fifth door offered solutions to young families with children.

Eager for a car for the day to day. But also in need of space and comfort for long recreational trips. Thus, the R8 and R4 would not take too long to lead to the much more modern R12 and R5. However, amid this rethinking of the range Renault released the R10 as an intermediate model based on the R8 and therefore in the schemes that he was trying to leave behind. Something that became notorious from the moment of its presentation at the 1965 Paris Motor Show. Place where it shared space with the new and much bolder R16.

However, there is a clear reason to understand the appearance of the R10. The economy. And it is that, although in the second half of the sixties the definitive explosion of the middle classes took place, many families in need of more space still could not afford an R16. So the idea for an improved R8 came up. Yes indeed, not so much in performance or equipment as in meeting space needs. For this, the R10 was presented as an intermediate car between the well-known R8 scheme and the greater versatility of uses of the R16. Could this vision be fulfilled?

renault r10


What is the structure for a building is the chassis for a car. On this basis, it is easy to understand if one model is derived from another just by examining the chassis. In the case of the R10, the way it shares it with the R8 is obvious. A fact that, however, coexists with the almost 21 centimeters more offered by the R10 in its total length. An extension that does not affect the dimensions of the central body in the least, which houses a cabin exactly the same size as the R8. In fact, even the doors can be easily interchanged between one model and another.

That said, the truth is that the only advantages of the R10 over the R8 in terms of interior were a more careful dashboard and more comfortable seats. Interesting details, but still not at all useful to approach the capabilities of the R16. Far from it, the R10 does not change the platform of the R8 but simply lengthens the overhangs to thus achieve a slightly larger boot. Just a little bigger since this one was obviously still under the hood. A far cry from the enormous cargo space offered by the new hatchback models inspired by the revolutionary idea of ​​the Autobianchi Primula.

At this point, the first volume lengthened about 12 centimeters and the third about 8. A little. And really even less when we consider that the rear ones were not used in a useful way. They were simply there to bring visual harmony to the profile of the R10, making the new front end in proportion to the other volumes. Having said all this, the truth is that that vision of the R10 as an intermediate model between the R8 and the R12 is revealed rather unsuccessful. For this reason, this 1965 model must be valued as an improved version of the R8 equipment rather than as a model with its own personality.


Changes to the R10's bodywork resulted in a 20-kilo increase in weight. In this way, the new model reached 775 kilos due to its length of 4,20 meters compared to the 3,99 of the R8. Of course, due to the null modification of the cabin, the wheelbase was still at an unalterable 229 centimeters. Regarding the engines, The R10 debuted with a 1.108cc 43hp four-cylinder. Really tight in terms of power, but enough to flatten well according to the tests of the time. An elegant way to point out the little verve of the model, although in truth it did not need it since it never pretended to be powerful or performance.

By contrast, the R10 was sold under the motto "A luxury compact". Influencing its family character with a touch of distinction with respect to the model from which it came. Something like if Renault had wanted to do with this creation the same as the FIAT Group with the Lancia of the nineties. Technologically very similar to its competitors, but always with that touch of elegance that made them more refined and therefore exclusive. Two years after its launch, in 1967, the R10 offered a new 1.289cc engine with 48CV according to most of the data tables of the time.

An aid that, however, did not manage to get the model out of its main flaw: having a totally outdated approach by the end of the decade. However, it continued to be sold in a more than interesting way until 1971, since as a consideration Renault ruined its price at least in recent years. What's more, In the case of Spain, the R10 was manufactured at the FASA. With the difference with respect to the French units to mount drum brakes instead of disc on the rear axle. Now it is not only an interesting classic for fans of Renault and FASA in particular, but also a curious non-sports variant of the legendary R8.

Photographs: Renault Classic

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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