Renault Etoile Filante
More information about the model Renault Etoile Filante
The record-breaking Étoile Filante (“shooting star”) is a prime example of how engineers sought to carry over aircraft technologies into automotive design during the aviation-infatuated period following the Second World War.
When war ended in 1945, Turboméca’s boss Mr. De Szidlowski, a leading expert in turbine engines, started making small power units for applications such as the famous Alouette helicopter. Very eager to raise public awareness on what he considered an immensely promising technology, he approached Renault with a high-profile concept in mind. Renault boss Pierre Lefaucheux went ahead and commissioned development of an experimental car from a highly experienced team of three: project manager Fernand Picard, exceptionally talented engine specialist Albert Lory, and engineer and test driver Jean Hébert. The outcome was the Étoile Filante, with a polyester body on a tubular structure and a turbine developing 270 hp.
On 5 September 1956, the whistle of the powerful turbine ricocheted round the salt lake of Bonneville, USA. A few instants later, the world speed record lay in tatters. The Étoile Filante had reached 306.9 km/h over a kilometre, and 308.85 km/h over 5 km, a record that still holds today! Despite its virtues, turbine technology proved ill-adapted to automotive applications, and neither Renault nor any other carmaker would take the concept any further. Even so, the Étoile Filante stands as an epoch-marking machine, in a class of its own.