From behind the wheel of an unassuming Renault NN, lieutenant Georges Estienne successfully crossed the Sahara desert from north to south in 1927. Incredibly, the journey took just over a month. The desert was no longer a barrier!
Crossing Africa in Renault Type NN
Lieutenant Georges Estienne embarked on an 18,000 kilometre expedition across the Sahara and French West Africa, arriving at his destination in 36 days. He was familiar with the African terrain, having already crossed the Sahara in 1924 in three Renault 6-wheelers as part of the Gradis-Estienne expedition. This would mark the first crossing of the vast desert by wheeled automobiles, which were much easier to service and manoeuvre than tracked vehicles.
A reliable automobile even in the Sahara
The purpose of his 1927 crossing was to study a link between the Algerian railway terminus and those in Dahomey (now Benin) and Senegal. He left Billancourt on 7 January 1927 in a Type NN and headed for Fort-Lamy (now N'Djamena). His return journey via Kano and Niamey went off without even the slightest mechanical hiccup.
The car was part of Renault’s infamous 6 CV lineup, which launched in 1922 with Type KJ, followed by MT and NN. In total, the company would sell over 150,000 of these rugged automobiles.