Last 2016 Sergio del Molino published Empty Spain. An interesting essay halfway between narrative journalism and the chronicle of the recent past. Without a doubt a proverbial text, since it appeared at the right moment to put the focus on depopulation. One of the main problems of our country. Which is directly related to environmental conservation, the sustainability of the primary sector and the maintenance of the social fabric in much of the Iberian Peninsula. In this way, the cities are looking again - not without a certain idealizing paternalism - at the agrarian sphere.
A process in which the automotive industry will have a lot to say. Since the maintenance of a dispersed population necessarily requires both public and private mobility. However, in a magazine of classics we are not to analyze the future but the past. Obviously, this should not make us lose the perspective of what is stored in the newspaper archives as a lever for analysis and change in the present. That said, the truth is that nowadays the agricultural field is treated, mainly, from the versatility offered by the SUV. Vehicles suitable for day to day. But in their adaptation to the field they suffer from a narrow vision.
Own to the one who sees the countryside not as a way of life but as a getaway to go for a walk on Sundays. Something that has been going on since the sixties. When many young families living in urban settings discovered nature with an omelette and folding chairs at the edge of a swamp. Not infrequently loaded with ease thanks to the revolutionary fifth door of the Renault 16. An incredibly versatile vehicle designed for urban families who need to integrate daily use and weekend getaways into the same model.
RENAULT 6. COUNTRY ATTITUDE AND URBAN HABITABILITY
However, beyond these specific attitudes on land, the mark of the rhombus offered a fully rural model. The R4 from 1961. In practice an unexpected all-rounder. Trustworthy thanks to its proven robustness and handling on roads with a wide angle of attack on its suspensions. One of the most loved cars in towns and farms. Which it also allowed for a longer road trip on time. A complete success, managing to overshadow the 2CV itself, being a global model manufactured in seven different countries.
Above was a model that appeared in 1962, just a year later. We are talking about the Renault 8. Substitute for the Dauphine. Already designed to offer middle class families habitability and performance in the increasingly frequent trips of a population with recent access to mass consumption. A model that, thanks to its all-back scheme and versions like the Gordini, got to get sporty muscle. Yes indeed, moving further and further away from rural buyers, who did not find a model like the R4 but something better prepared. Market niche in which Citroën did focus, which launched the Dyane in 1967.
A movement to which Renault responded in just one year, presenting in 1968 the Renault 6. A vehicle that in body and habitability pulls towards the R16 of 1965. Although based on the R4 platform, giving priority to the character necessary to function on roads. In this way, the Renault 6 can be defined as a car for agricultural buyers who do not want to give up using it as a family vehicle on weekends. A good mix between the practicality and robustness of the R4 and the firm comfort of the R8 and R16.
A MODEL WITH LESS SUCCESS THAN EXPECTED
Among the most interesting issues in the history of Renault stands out its ability to tell our recent history. As a generalist and mass-produced brand, its models never appeared without prior and thorough financial studies. Social analysis with which identify new markets created in the wake of massive urbanization and the economic expansion of the middle classes. A very interesting fact. Since in addition to the everlasting mechanical details, models like the Renault 6 cannot be understood without putting it into a social context. However, the truth is that the Renault 6 has not become one of the most massive creations of the French brand.
Nor in Spain, where some 300.000 units produced by the Valladolid FASA were sold. Here the chosen engine was the same 956cc that already mounted the R8, giving 34CV at 5.000 rpm. Data that did not arouse the enthusiasm of the press. Which also blamed the Renault 6 for excessive consumption for its benefits with almost seven liters on average to one hundred. Thus, in 1970 the TL version was presented with an engine from the R7. Now the power rose to 47CV thanks to a displacement of 1.037cc and a compression ratio point and a half higher than in the premiere model.
Undoubtedly interesting updates, even more so considering that the weight of the Renault 6 was just under 700 kilos. But late. Arrivals at a time when the model began to see its audience dwindle in the agrarian field. Which by the way still had the R4 as a reference vehicle within the Renault range. So things, The Renault 6 remained briefly on the Spanish market until late 1986 thanks to new updates made in 1981. Long life. Much more than expected in a model that did not meet the high expectations placed on it but still remains a fundamental part of the landscape in empty Spain.
Pictures: Renault Classic