The R16 exploded onto the automotive scene in January 1964, revolutionizing the sleepy world of family cars. In 1966, it was named “Car of the Year”. Let’s take a look back at this revolutionary car.
The 1960s was a decade of sweeping change. Living standards were rising and morals were becoming more relaxed. The key words were non-conformism, hedonism and boldness. Sensing the wind of change, Pierre Dreyfus, President and CEO of Renault, decided to market a new vehicle that would reflect the aspirations of French people: the R16.
The R16 was completely different from existing cars. When it first came out, it was criticized for being too original. Potential buyers were taken aback. But the barriers soon came down. The R16 was widely advertised by word of mouth and sales took off. Half-way between a station wagon and a sedan, the R16 introduced new cues in automotive design. To quote the advert, it aimed to “point the way forward”. To the extent that its unusual profile was quickly copied by its competitors.