The start of a great adventure
In 1897, nineteen-year-old Louis Renault was working as a draughtsman with Delaunay-Belleville. This keen amateur mechanic, fascinated by the emergence of motor transport, set up a little workshop in a garden shed at the family home in Boulogne-Billancourt, and set about building a simple little car, of his own design, for his own personal use.
By Christmas 1898, the voiturette was finished, and Louis invited a few friends round to see how it would tackle the steep Rue Lepic in the Montmartre district of Paris. Impressed by how easy it was to drive the car, several of his friends were keen to get one for themselves. Two months later, the automobile manufacturing company Renault Frères was founded.
An early icon of modernity
The lightweight, well-designed voiturette already showed many of the features of modern automobile engineering, with a front-mounted engine, driveshaft transmission, and a direct-drive gearbox patented by Louis Renault.
It was first unveiled to the public in June 1899. Then on 27 August, Louis and his brother Marcel took part in the Amateur Drivers’ Cup event from Paris to Trouville, finishing first and second.