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The 1952 Sports Utility Vehicle by… Renault

The 1952 Sports Utility Vehicle by… Renault
Many claims have been made about the origins of the Sports Utility Vehicle. By Willys and Land Rover in the first place, with their early 1950s Jeepster and Road Rover prototype respectively, combining four-wheel drive with comforts such as a plush interior. Jeep, Chevrolet, International Harvester and even GAZ have been given the intitlement, too, at some point.

But have these people ever thought of the Renault Colorale? At the end of the 1940s Renault wanted an upmarket model and the direction in Billancourt called for a robust functional yet comfy vehicle, equally at home in the cities or the countryside, and appealing also to overseas markets in remaining parts of the French empire. With colonial and rural customers in its sights, the car was named Colorale, a mix of ‘coloniale’ and ‘rurale’. The car got the option of four-wheel drive and to attain the family look the car was given a nose that was described as a big version of that of the Renault 4. It was bigger in any sense though, with the Fregate’s two-litre four-cilinder under the bonnet. There were commercial versions as well as private ones, with the Prairie being the most popular choice. This was the ultimate family version with five doors, six side windows and foldable rear seat.

Between 1952 and 1957 some 43,000 had been manufactured, making the Colorale not the success Renault had hoped for. And although that may seem like a lot, survivors are pretty rare. Auctioneer Stanilas Machoïr is offering a Colorale for sale this weekend in Cazals (pictured above) and it seems to be a nice example. In two-tone beige and green, this is a 1953 car, which is said to need just a few touches to get it back on the road. The estimate of € 5- to 8.000 seems not too bad for such an underestimated car. In a few year’s time it may well receive the appraisal it so much deserves…

(Words editor, picture Stanilslas Machoir)

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