October 24, 2006

Today In Automotive History

1944 : An accused collaborator dies
French automaker and accused Nazi collaborator Louis Renault died on this day in a Paris military prison hospital of undetermined causes. Born in Paris, Renault built his first automobile, the Renault Type A, in 1898. Inspired by the DeDion quadricycle, the Type A had a 270 cc engine (1.75hp), and could carry two people at about 30mph. Later in the year, Renault and his brothers formed the Societe Renault Freres, a racing club that achieved its first major victory when an automobile with a Renault-built engine won the Paris-Vienna race of 1902. After Louis' brother, Marcel, died along with nine other drivers in the Paris-Madrid race of 1903, Renault turned away from racing and concentrated on mass production of vehicles. During World War I, Renault served his nation with the "Taxis de la Marne," a troop-transport vehicle, and in 1918, with the Renault tank. Between the wars, Renault continued to manufacture and sell successful automobiles, models that became famous for their sturdiness and longevity. With the German occupation of France during World War II, the industrialist, who had served his country so well during World War I, mysteriously offered his Renault tank factory and his services to the Nazis, perhaps believing that the Allies' cause was hopeless. The liberation of France in 1944 saw the arrest of Louis Renault as a collaborator, and the Renault company was nationalized with Pierre Lefaucheux as the new director. The 67-seven-year-old Renault, who likely suffered torture during his post-liberation detainment, died soon after his arrest.

Posted by Quality Weenie at October 24, 2006 06:42 AM | TrackBack