The 1920s saw an almost obsessive interest in records. Not to be outdone, Renault broke a few of its own with this impressive streamlined 40CV, which would top 190 km/h.
The race to set new speed records
In the 1920s, carmakers were locked in a battle to set new speed records, in a race that would play out on speed tracks. In France, the Montlhéry track, built in 1924, was the venue for many a stand-off. And Renault had just the car for the job: the flagship 40CV model, with its enormous nine-litre engine.
During an initial campaign in 1925, a virtually standard torpedo broke the lap record at 178.475 km/h, then the 24-hour record at 141.03 km/h. The difference between the two averages tells a story, since it arises from the frequent stops required for refuelling and, above all, tyre changes; this heavy car consumed around a hundred!
Always looking for the next challenge
But these figures were apparently not good enough for engineers Plessier and Gartfield, who came back in 1926 with a more streamlined single-seater 40CV with the radiator mounted behind the engine. The pitstop process had been streamlined too, with a 14-strong team cutting downtime to 50 seconds. This time round, Renault would set a new 50-mile record at an average of 190.013 km/h and a new 24-hour record at 173.649 km/h.
The car on show is an exact replica of the record-breaking car, built in the 1970s. Owner: Edouard Pichon.