Louis Renault made his first car, a De Dion engined vehicle of 273cc in 1898, in the backyard of his parents' house. Having received orders from potential customers, he founded Renault Freres in Billancourt, Seine with his two brothers Fernand and Marcel. From 1900, Renault fitted 500cc De Dion engines, and then made twin cylinder models such as the 1,060cc 8 CV and the 4,398cc four cylinder 20cv. Many of the twin cylinder Renaults were used as taxis in Paris and London, where they survived for many years. By 1912 Renault Freres offered no fewer than 15 different models, of which the best was the six-cylinder 40 CV of 7,539cc. The following year a smaller six cylinder, the 4,523cc 22cv appeared. By the outbreak of WWI, Renault had become one of the most important manufacturers of cars in Europe.
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After WWII, Renault was taken under government control and became the Regie Nationale des Usines Renault. They resumed production with the "Juvaquatre", and later with the rear-engined "4cv" of 760cc, which lasted until 1961. The "Fregate", introduced in 1951, was the last of the front-engined, rear-drive cars made by Renault.
The Dauphine came in 1956 and a "Dauphine Gordini" was presented the following year. In 1959 came the Floride, and three years later the 747cc R4 with front-wheel drive. After an attempt to build the American Rambler under license, the 956cc R8 arrived, giving way later to the "R8 S", the "Major" and the "Gordini". The R16 was presented in 1965, followed four years later by the R12 and then the R6 in 1970. The R15 and R17 came in 1971 and then the unsuccessful R12 "Gordini". Latest in the line in the 70s are the Rodeo (a sort of plastic Jeep), the R5 and the sporty R5-Alpine ("Gordini" in the UK), the R14, R18, R20 and R30.