Fascinating French Classic Cars: Renault Fregate and Domaine

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The Renault project for a full size car (or executive car in British usage) began in 1947, with a rear engine and a style comparable with the 4 CV. Due to many technical problems, the Renault Frégate will not be launched before February 1951, but with a pontoon line, apparent rear wings and a front engine. At the beginning, this model was a challenge facing Citroën Traction Avant, and soon difficulties with the heavy steering and unsynchronized gearbox appeared. The 1996 cc straight-4 engine terribly lacks power, with only 60 HP on the first version. It is in 1956 that the new Etendard engine offers 77 HP (2141 cc). In 1951, 18 153 units were produced.

Renault Frégate Transfluide 1959: A Very Spacious Sedan

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The body is huge and inner space a real asset, along with the trunk. The weight of the car is 1253 kg for the sedan and 1318 kg for the station wagon. The Frégate is 4.69 m long and 1.70 m wide.The dashboard has a meter is in the style of the 4 CV  for the very first versions and the general presentation is good. The Frégate is upgraded in 1953 and the defaults have been eliminated, while the Amiral and Normal versions are proposed. The car has exceptional road-holding qualities and excellent brakes.

Renault Frégate Transfluide 1959, as seen from the rear.

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For the 1954 Paris Motor Show, the engine is modified. It is now more adapted to the weight of the car, a sunroof is then optional. In 1956, as the Citroën DS is unveiled, Renault present the station wagon Domaine powered by the the new 2141 cc Etendard engine of 77 HP. This latter will equip only top versions. The Grand Pavois, a two tone luxury version then becomes Renault range most expensive model. A new oval front grille without the horizontal bar is now mounted on the Frégate.

Renault Domaine, a convenient station wagon.

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Renault Domaine, a large space at the rear.

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Rear view of the Renault Domaine.

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In 1957, Renault propose the Transfluide as a response to the Citroën DS. It is equipped with a torque converter, an automatic clutch and a new fully synchronized three speed semi-automatic transmission, the engine then reaches 80 HP. But the slowness of the car is still here, unfortunately. The Manoir, a luxurious and expensive version of the station wagon arrives in 1958 and can be compared with the Simca Marly.

The dashboard of the Renault Domaine.

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Dashboard of the Renault Frégate Transfluide sedan 1959.

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A long version of the Renault Frégate existed for the French Presidency of the Republic and was not used much.

The Ondine was a prototype in plastic launched in 1953 and designed by Ghia. It will never be produced. The designers Letourneur and Marchand created magnificient convertibles from 1953 to 1960. Only 70 were built. Henri Chapron designed coaches with his characteristic roof in 1953-54. But only very few existed, 3 Transfluide were constructed in 1958 whose rear was changed and had lost their round shape.  Mignot and  Billebault proposed a beautiful version in 1955 with 4 real seats.

The Renault Frégate and Domaine were produced from 1951 to 1960 for a total of 180 463 units.

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