Monday, November 30, 2015

Renault Loved Pontiac, Hudson and Chrysler in 1942

As World War 2 raged, car makers did something that in many cases they weren't supposed to do: plan post-war models.  This was a particularly difficult undertaking in France because much of the country was either occupied by German forces or subservient to Germany until late 1942 and completely occupied from then until the 1944 liberation.  The Germans used French industry to assist in their war production, and postwar French automobiles were not part of their agenda.

Nevertheless, Renault and other manufacturers had clandestine development programs underway.  Here we deal with design work done largely in 1942 on a potential postwar 14 CV Primaquatre (Type 104 E).  Source material is from Automobilia hors-série No. 26, Toutes les voitures françaises 1940-46: les années sans salon by René Bellu.

What I find most interesting is the borrowing of styling themes from Pontiac, Hudson and Chrysler by Renault's stylist Robert Barthaud.  The United States was neutral regarding the war until late 1941, so information on U.S. cars through 1942 models (introduced fall, 1941) was available in France.


Renault 104 E prototype - 1st version
American influence is strong.  The main source here seems to be the 1939 Hudson with perhaps a whiff of 1940 Ford. Note especially the front fenders and grill compared to Hudson styling seen in the photo below.

1939 Hudson

Renault 104 E prototype - 1st version
But it's not all Hudson influence.  Those sure look like Pontiac's legendary Silver Streaks running down the hood centerline and over the grille.

1939 Pontiac grille
This narrow version of Silver Streaks is similar to what Renault seems to have borrowed.

Renault 104 E prototype - 2nd version - profile drawing
Hudson influence disappeared on the second version 104 E prototype and 1941 Pontiac details predominate.  Compare to the image below.

1941 Pontiac Custom Torpedo

Renault 104 E prototype - 2nd version
The running prototype differed from the drawing in that the Pontiac-like crease across the rear fender was eliminated.

Renault 104 E prototype - 2nd version
Pontiac influence ceased on the front end and borrowing shifted to 1941 Chryslers, as can be seen in the image below.

1941 Chrysler Royal - sales photo

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