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Robert L. Peters

12 July 2010

Flashback | my first car…

Renault_R8

A mid-1960s Renault 8

I bought my first car for $300 in February of 1974, an amount earned by working for what seemed like an eternity in a window factory (in reality, it was a single two-week pay period). With some minor repairs, a set of well-used steel-belted radials, and a fresh paint job (by hand—but I swear you could hardly see the brush strokes) this beauty got me to where I needed to go in style… and while the 956 cubic cms (58.3 cubic inches) and whopping 43 horsepower could hardly be considered a powerhouse, the 40+ m.p.g. fuel efficiency and smooth performance of the svelte little five-bearing engine made up for it.

Key features included deep-sprung, super-comfortable polyurethane-molded seats, “aircraft-style air louvres,” four doors, a (synchronized!) 4-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes (a first in its class), a four-wheel independent suspension (read great road holding), a “huge luggage boot” (OK, 11 cu. ft.) in the front, and the advantageous rear-engine (complete with emergency hand-crank!) and rear-wheel drive—brilliant for muscling through snowdrifts on wintry prairie roads. My sweet little R8 also offered one of tightest turning radii of all time… which all has me waxing just a wee bit nostalgic for this diminutive French charmer.

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