With very little fuss at the time, Estafette introduced a huge technological upheaval in 1958: front-wheel drive!
The first front-wheel drive Renault LCV
October 1958: Though Renault passenger cars remained true to the traditional “all-rear” configuration, Estafette very discreetly introduced a major turnaround for Renault in bringing in front-wheel drive. In the light commercial vehicles segment, Renault needed to find a response to Citroën’s Type H, a low-loading van with flat floor, achieved by placing all the drive subsystems at the front. The result was Estafette, a smart, practical van (complete with sliding driver’s door) that came across as such a modern vehicle as to almost outdate Renault’s passenger car range, including the brand new Frégate Manoir estate!
The start of a long career
It was available in a wide range of engine and coachwork variants to meet the needs of all their customers. Its special coachwork designs appealed to mirror makers, mobile butchers, ice cream vendors, and camping enthusiasts alike. An extra-high version was also available, with a roof in stratified polyester, derived from Renault’s experience in railcar design.
Estafette was such a well-engineered vehicle that it would go on to enjoy a 20-year career, with production reaching half a million. Three years after Estafette was released, front-wheel drive took a firm hold in Renault passenger car design, with Renault 4.