The French Connection… Rescuing a Renault R10

Renault R10 0

It’s a weakness or possibly an illness but when I see something like this by the side of the road I absolutely have to stop and check it out, if you suffer the same symptoms or just enjoy funky little European cars, then please, read on.

A couple weeks ago my friends Scott, Keith, and I took a motorcycle camping trip out near Prineville Oregon. After rounding a corner I saw this beauty sitting in the sagebrush with a sign bearing the magic words, “for sale”. I must admit that at first glance of the boxy shape I took it for an Alfa , no grill meant rear engine perhaps a Fiat? Closer examination showed it to be French! I didn’t know that Renault made these!?

The car was unlocked and though it was dirty and dented it was surprisingly complete with good glass, an engine seemingly in one piece, most of the trim intact, and aside from the front doors even the paint was original, (there must be a story here but I don’t have it yet). I of course called and left a message for the seller.

Fast-Forward three weeks. I had almost forgotten about the little Renault when the owner finally called and we worked out the details, he needed the car gone and I for some reason needed the car, we settled on a price of free so I was left with no choice but to go rescue the poor little voiture!

Renault R10 1

After borrowing a truck from a generous friend and a trailer from work we were set to go. Scott and I headed East for another weekend of adventure. Surprisingly the Renault still had air in the tires, no stuck brakes, and working steering, I was fearing the worst but we had it loaded-up in no time.

The proud new owner enjoying the moment… and a beer!
Renault R10 2

Almost done…
Renault R10 3

Safely loaded the work was done, time to enjoy the outdoors. We had a great view from our campsite of Chimney Rock
Renault Retrieval 025

After a long drive Sunday I had my prize at home in the driveway. Excited and eager to check it out I decided to see what it would take to get her running again. The license plates expired in 1988 and I suspect that it has been sitting for most of these last 21 years. I removed the spark plugs and sprayed a generous amount of WD40 down each hole, changed the grimy old oil, and replaced the battery. The engine rolled-over smoothly by hand…now my excitement was growing! After only a minute or so of cranking the starter the car developed oil pressure. I poured some fresh gas into the tank, installed some new spark plugs, and gave it just a small shot of ether down the carburetor throat, what followed was pure magic!

The engine sounded good and ran for 30 minutes without leaking a drop, the project is just beginning though. Brakes, clutch, and gearbox all need assessment and attention.

The interior is “rough” but mostly complete and original.
Renault R10 5

1.1 liters of dirty French fury
Renault R10 6

A good sign for sure!
Renault R10 4

Stay tuned for project updates and please add your comments. I’m hoping to have this little car back on the road soon but I’m new to Renault so if you have experience or know of parts sources please don’t hesitate to post them up.

Renault R10 7

39 Responses to “The French Connection… Rescuing a Renault R10”

  1. john Fongers says:

    Congratulations,

    The spares for these cars are not expensive here in Europe and stuff like brake pads, clutches and evenused panels can be found.
    Basically this is the Renault R8 with a modified front and rear end, but the doors and many other parts are similar. The seats are very comfortable but you need to take out the radiator and flush it with hot water and a chemical like caustic soda. For parts in Europe look at
    MECAPARTS.

    I just bought an R8S(port) in Italy which is also totally original.
    The achilles heel is rust with these cars.
    The 1300 Renault engines are trouble free and run like a purring cat.

  2. Tim Morton says:

    I have some R10 parts leftover from the 3 R10′s my dad and I used to have in the 1980′s. Some are new and some are used. Send me an email and I will forward you some of the pictures. We had a yellow one, a white one, and a blue one that we drove during the 70′s and early ’80′s. I am in Raleigh NC. Your video brings back memories.

  3. Paul says:

    Tim, I’m glad that you enjoyed the video and I really appreciate your parts offer, I will be in touch! -Paul

  4. howard says:

    I found your site by accident. had to write to tell you my history with Renault.
    Started with a 1961 3-speed Renault Dauphine…Robin Egg Blue, with a dark blue interior. Very comfortable seats..they had to be..the car was inoperable more than mobile; might as well be comfortable…lasted 1-1/2 years and about 30,000 miles.
    Now I know that I am intelligent because I went and purchased an R-8 (like the R-10). Some people never learn; at least I knew that I would, once again, be comfortable while waiting for “AAA”.
    At least now, 40 plus years later, YOU can have some fun getting it going. Just don’t leave home without it.. I mean your cell-phone!

    ENJOY…life is too short otherwise!

  5. Eric says:

    Hi – I also came across a Renault R10 parked in a garage. It has a few minor surface rust and missing side indicator lens but overall seems like in good shape. I’m trying to get a hold of the owner to see if he/she wants to sell.

    Since you have owned your R10 for a few months what should I look out for?

    Thanks for your help!
    Eric

  6. Nancy says:

    I’m interested in R10 parts. Any thoughts, websites,etc that could help? I welcome any advice. My email is suntimes@Att.net. Thanks

  7. George Weiner says:

    Wow! My father used to drive one from 1980 until 1997 in Romania. This is the car of my childhood. Lots of great memories…. Good luck!

  8. Edward Felton says:

    Paul,

    I just obtained almost identical ’69 R10. Same setup on dash (ie, choke on dash, left hand key ignition, etc. etc.). Mine is fairly fresh except for idle – which is non-existent. I’ll be putting pix up on facebook soon.

    Congrats on yours. I wish mine idled like your find. Will fix that soon.

    Regards,

    Ed

  9. Bill Holt says:

    Hi! I owned a R10 from 1971 until some time in 1984, I think, when it finally went to a junk yard. I actually loved that “toy car”, even with it’s very strange Jaeger push button automatic transmission. After a while I really wished it was a 4 speed stick. Good luck with your project. It’s really a unique car, and the pictures bring back memories. Bill Holt

  10. tom locklear says:

    i had a 69 r10 in the seventies. paid 250.00. immediatley loaded the car up with gear and people took a trip from pa to north carolina. the car got 51, yes 51 miles to the gallon at 65 and 70 mph. prius gets what 40 years later? so much for progress. and make no mistake about it , the r10 with 1150 cc would love to run 100 mph all day. i always tell people that when the car got up past 80 or so it had a real attitude. if it weren’t for politics this car really had made the beetle obsolete. really look at the technology.

  11. Steve Swan says:

    Roundeye 10′s are quite rare in europe as they were only made ’65 to’67 then the square eye came out. Their build quality was probably average for a European car of the time ,but not up to the rigours of American motoring (most old american cars appear as light trucks wearing car bodies to us Europeans, not that thats a bad thing)with a bit of sympathetic modification it can be made into a great fun car capable of high cruising speeds in comfort and good enough handling to be entertaining. Have a look at my site. There are plenty Ideas of ways to waste a big part of the rest of your life on this. Have fun and enjoy

  12. Spike Cutler says:

    I had two different R10s, a ’69 that got wrecked; and a ’71, which I bought very cheaply with high miles, and sold cheaper still when it spun main bearings far from home (plan was to get her home and overhaul, but no joy).

    Funky but fun, I liked ‘em. But 100 mph? An honest 85, yeah, but never 100.

  13. stephen daw says:

    hi all have just purchased a r10 (square lights) for a project. it’s in good condition in and out apart from a bad section of rust in the front compartment and around the headlights. have heaps of spares to go through but no front ends suitable. out of all the spare car bodies available, not one with a good rust free front.

    now i’m on a mission

  14. Paul says:

    Sounds like a great project Stephen, I wish you luck! -Paul

  15. Russ says:

    lottsa fun. My Dad bought an R8 on a trip to Europe in 1966 (replaced his Hillman) and then shipped it back to the states. When he was late to work in the New York City suburbs, he would jump the curb and drive on the sidewalk. That pushbutton model eventually became mine in about 1971. By that time he had gone back to France and bought an R10 and shipped that one back too. I drove the piss out of the R8 (we would race Datsun 510′s on the Mass Pike – 95 mph downhill, standing on the gas with a good tailwind). Eventually, I slid into a Chevy Impala at about 15 mph on a snowy road. 4 big guys got out and looked – no damage AT ALL to the Chevy but the trunk on the R8 crumpled like tin foil. We hammered the trunk so it would shut and I continued to drive the piss out of it until it finally rusted out and fell apart.

    Last year I bought this car off of ebay (http://bringatrailer.com/2008/11/30/clean-french-sedan-2-owner-1970-renault-r10/). Trailered it to Virginia from Florida. Have had a mechanic playing around with it for too long but hits the road again this week.

    Love that car!

  16. Wade says:

    I found this doing a Google search… My first car was a ’67 R-10. It was passed down to me after being used by both of my brothers. The thing was a horse… Always ran no matter how long it sat, but we never tried 21 years! I saw where some implied you would have trouble, but that was not the case with mine. My oldest brother drove this from our home near Dallas/Ft. Worth back and forth to Texas Tech in Lubbock (about 330 miles) and found out recently the other brother drove it on several ski trips to northern New Mexico because it got such great mileage and the rear engine/rear wheel drive plowed through the snow! I bought a Chevy Nova after a couple of years to have a/c in hot Texas, but parked that thing any chance I got to drive the R-10. Congratulations & thanks for reviving great memories!

  17. Paul says:

    It’s been great to hear all the stories and memories that others have shared in response to this article, Thank you all for your comments!

  18. Jim says:

    Long time since any updating on the R10 project… I just recently ran across the opportunity to grab one of these and have been thinking about it. Years of driving the Dauphine (2 1959s) and the Fiat 124 sedan (a 1969 and a 1971) has me hankering to get my metrics out again!

  19. MTalus says:

    I got a ’69 R10 for free in ’84. Other than damage to the rear fender it was perfect; 37,000 miles!
    Once I had it out on the road people would stop me and offer me the one they had in the barn, shed, garage, backyard, etc.
    I ended up with three runners, one a beautiful burgundy with a canvas roll top and alloy wheels! I loved the funky (but very slow) push button transmision. Vacuum servo operated with an electromagnetic clutch.
    Alas, they are all gone now. What was I thinking?
    I’m sure that anyone with any sense of humor at all will love one. Cruising all day at 75 while getting 50 plus mpg. It just took half the day to get going that fast;)

  20. Normand says:

    I had a blue R-!0 ,67 brand new. Best car I ever owned. It was great on long trips. From Boston to Chicago cheap on gas. Great in winter time. My wife broke second gear, so we traded in for an 68 automatic. This one was a lemon. Assembled in Quebec, poorly put together. It had a new dual carburetor for emmision. Ran poorly, spent more time with AAA towing. I was so disapointed that the dealer would would not trade it in for a Peugeot 404. But today I still miss that wonderful R10 that had 50,000 miles in two years.
    It was a better car than a beetle I had, but could not convince anyone. The beetle was noisy and old fashioned.

  21. Renault cars for sale says:

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  22. Kevin says:

    Good luck

    my dad had one in the 70s and miss that car

    U can hand crank it with the jack and is below the tag- that came in handy but leave it in neutral since ours rammed into our garage

    Kevin

  23. Berley Wade says:

    I had a 69 R-10 for about a year in the early 70’s I drove it over 80,000 miles, with the total mileage when I sold it well over 100,000. I paid $495 for it and sold it for $475. I still consider it one of the better cars I have owned. (I have driven well over 2 million miles with 42 different automobiles). This car was advanced for its year. For example, it had four wheel disc brakes and hand holds at all four doors. When I had it, gas was $/35 per gallon, and it gave me a consistent 35 mpg. The most difficult job I did on it was to repair the master cylinder. It was very good in snow. I went from Richmond to Washington one day when I95 was down to one lane, and when I got there, there were no cars in the motel parking lot because of the snow. I parked in front of my room.

  24. Steve George says:

    I learned to drive in a 1966 R-8 that my Father purchased NEW for $1413.00 in Ogden, Utah. I came home from a church mission and found a Renault R-10 for $100.00 in Blackfoot, Idaho. I really restored it. New Polyurethane paint in 1980. ALL New upholstery (even the headliner and door panels and dashboard). Lots of other fun stuff like “tunes”. That car has great simplicity and therefore great reliability when you know its little quirks. My Dad and I rebuilt his motor more than 4 times and when he DROVE it to the scrap yard they did not even know what it was. I probibly had more than 1,000,000 miles on it. I would like to have two wheels to hang on the shop wall as a great reminder of the car I used to have and all the fun we all had in them. I can still remember a lot about those cars. I would love to talk to you as you are restoring it.

  25. Paul says:

    Thanks for sharing another great Renault story. The car in the article above has been passed to a friend of mine who has more time for it than I have found. For the last several years it has been sitting (again) but it’s not ready for the scrap yard yet. I will update if and when it is finally resurrected.

  26. Kurt VanderWel says:

    I have a 71 R10. It was a frinds grandmas. after it sat in her car port fro 8 years waiting for the grand kids to get their license, they couldn’t get it running. I had a fleet of R5′s years ago, so I offered to haul it away for them at no charge. after a bit of cleaning on the carb and bypassing the fuel tank with a pickle jar, I got it to start with the hand crank. Now my kids want to drive it. the problem is that the brakes are shot. I need caliper kits and for some direction on getting the goofy rear rotors off. Does anyone have parts/repair manual????? We call it the Clown Car. Cant wait to see how many high school kids we can jam in there. We are out here in Seattle Wa. Drop me a call of you can help (425) 350-2433. thanks.

  27. Paul says:

    Kurt, I found a surprising amount of parts and literature available on ebay. I no longer have my R10 and unfortunately sent the brake parts and factory repair manual I had along with it. Good luck with your project! -Paul

  28. Tom Danaher says:

    Hey Kurt-

    Make sure you have great tires & brakes. For all the remarkable performance of these little cars, they don’t have great stopping power. I brought a 1971 R-10 back to life, and then a 1963 Caravelle, and drove at least 100K miles between the two. Tom’s comment about attitude above 80 mph is true. A Frenchman once advised adding two sandbags in the front of the “boot” (the trunk)- good advise, as both cars would start to float around 75-80 mph without some weight up front. Both cars we modified with Webers from Ford Cortina’s, which cost some in gas mileage but really helped performance.

    A California CHP in a Mustang once took about 20 minutes to catch me in the Caravelle (didn’t notice that I was being chased), and then let me off easy after a thorough tour of this car that he’d never seen before. He just couldn’t believe how hard it was to catch me (Hwy 17 to hwy 1 south, near Santa Cruz CA). Likewise, great memories from both of these cars!

    Have fun,
    Tom

  29. Cathi Twill says:

    I had a 67 R-10 back in 69, in college. How I loved that car! Even found a French mechanic, Rene, in Reseda, CA, who took pretty good care of it. Then I got married, and the now-ex blew it up a couple of years later, being a D- in auto care. Sheesh. I still talk about that silly push button transmission. Also I think it had leather upholstery that in the summer heat would leak oil vapor of some kind and the windows would get covered with tiny dots of oil. At least I think it came from the leather upholstery.

  30. quintin says:

    I bought a 68 r10 Renault and are busy restoring it. I however need some parts, eg. Left front indicator lens, right rear tail light lens, a wheel cap. Please let me know if you could help me with this pats or where I could find them. Appreciate it. Tank you. Quintin.

  31. Gilles Desbiens says:

    Oh what memories. I have had Renaults since 1971. My first Renault was 1971 R-10 move on to 1972 R-16 The best riding car I have ever had. If I could find one in good condion, I would buy it right away.I had Renault Encore ,Alliance R-12,R-15,R-17, I still have a 1984 Fuego, in top condition.
    Good luck
    Gilles

  32. Armand says:

    I bought a new Blue ’67 R10. Now 50 years later, it was the best car I ever owned. Fun to drive and comfortable. Never any problems. 40 mpg and cheap to own. I had a 67 VW Beetle at the same time. But the Renault was a better car to drive, it had heat and was quiet and more comfortable. 12volt while the Beetle was a 6 volt, Renault rack and pinion steering and all around disk brakes, Michelin tires. It was ahead of the Beetle. My Beetle rusted faster than my Renault. The Beetle was more popular and had better dealers. So it won out. But later Renaults prove to be lemons because of smog devices installed that did not work. Same with the Beetle, so came the Super Beetle.

  33. Paul says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Armand. I’ve sold this Renault to a friend a couple years ago but I’ll admit I’ve been keeping my eyes open for another R10 or R8 that’s a driver and not a project. I was really struck by what nice little cars these are!

  34. homer says:

    Homer says,

    Can somebody help me in finding in the UK or France the rear side panel of a renault 10 (1967). Sending me any address will be appreciated.

    Thanks.

  35. Johan Naude says:

    Hi,Im from South Africa and bought a Renault R10 1968 , one with square headlights.When I saw the ad on website for sale I thought I must buy the car …..Busy restoring it,car still in great shape bit rust,running , roadworthy and register.Had problem with wiring, but sorted out.Most of interior still origanal.Removed dash to vynil spray it and will fix rusted areas.Want car to be orriganally as possible.

    Love oldies and newer cars.Also owns Audi TT 1.8 2001 advance car for it time and also new Toyota GT 86 2013 What a car…needs just a bit more power.

  36. Nick Earnshaw says:

    I have had Renos most of my life,starting with a 1969 R8 Gordini,which,like an idiot I sold in 1980.Wish I still had that car.I presently have a 1967 R10(round lights)Alconi.Presently rebuilding it.Overseas people will not know what an R10 Alconi is.It was a south african R10 which 2 fellows by the name of Puddles Adler and John Conchie,used to modify to sort of rival the Gordini.They were fairly quick for the time but they were never Gordinis.Still they are a part of South African automotive history.

  37. mike giles says:

    I had a 65 renault r 10, the best and most comfortable car I ever had. I am still looking for one to buy, the seats were amazing, the drive was too.

    I have looked for one and all I can find is across the sea. Can anyone help me find one that is not a fixer, I have a 65 landrover that I have been working on and do not need another project. I will gladly trade for a renault any day.

  38. Mike Jackson says:

    I just purchased a 68 Renault r10, I am in need of some parts, anyone have any, or know where I can get any???

    mikejackson176@gmail.com

  39. Allan Watson says:

    Hi mike I have a very nice Renault r10 witch I would sell at the right price just let me no allanwatson579@btinternet.com

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