24 June 2019
More than an old car #107: Renault Megane I
It is natural that most people will go for the more well-known classic cars, and it is something that I do as well. Yet, I do keep an eye out for nondescript cars as well and I was rewarded with seeing these rare 1999 Renault Megane Is!
The Renault corporation was founded in 1899 by Louis Renault and his brothers. Initially, they started out making taxis and became France's largest car manufacturer. They also ventured into car racing after seeing the publicity it could generate from the activity. Previously, the smallest Renault car on the market cost the equivalent of 10 years pay of an average worker, so they introduced mass production techniques to make it more accessible to the public. Its logo, in the shape of a diamond, appeared in 1925 and it signified Renault's desire to project a strong and consistent corporate image. The yellow background appeared in 1946 after the company was nationalised. During World War 1, it branched out to the manufacture of aircraft engines and bullets, and its factories were heavily bombed during World War 2. Louis Renault passed away in 1944 and his company was formally nationalised.
After the war, Renault enjoyed a period of commercial resurgence, with popular cars such as the Renault 4 and the compact Renault 5. It also established itself as a worthy competitor in racing and partnered with American Motors Corporation (AMC) to enter the US market with mixed success. In the 1980s, it underwent a restructuring exercise by cutting costs and selling non-essential assets. It was privatized in 1996 and entered into an alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi in 1999, which together sells 1 in 9 vehicles worldwide. Most Renault cars remain popular in Europe and it is well-known for being economical.
The Megane started out life as the X64 and was destined to replace the Renault 19. Prototypes were designed back in 1990 and the first production car was unveiled in 1995. Its name is derived from the Greek root "mega" (great) and was supposed to evoke a futuristic female personality. Renault placed great emphasis on safety, where they included a 3-point seatbelt for the middle rear occupant, driver and passenger airbags among other features. A variety of body styles and engines were available, such as sedan, hatchback, estate coupe and cabriolet. A facelift was carried out in 1999, featuring the teardrop headlights like these units here.
The sedan was powered by a 1598 cc K7M i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 191 km/h, with an acceleration of 12.4 seconds [0-100 km/h]. The cabriolet was powered by the same engine, but it could reach a top speed of 200 km/h with an acceleration of 10.1 seconds [0-100 km/h]. The sedan was 4436 mm long and weighed 1105 kg, while the cabriolet was 4081 mm long and weighed 1100 kg.
Production of the 1st-generation Megane ended in 2002 with 5 million made in total, of which only 65,000 cabriolets were sold. However, as with unloved old cars here, I presume there are only less than 5 in Singapore. The sedan were first sold here by Exklusiv Auto in 1997 after they premiered a LHD unit in their showroom. For some reason, French cars were not that popular, partly due to prohibitively expensive parts and low resale value. As a result, many were scrapped upon reaching 10 years old.
It seems that the convertible has some sort of funky bodykit: it definitely wasn't a standard feature. What I inferred from looking at the convertible was that it had been de-registered for quite some time, apparently long enough for leaves to gather in the engine bay. Recently, I received information from the previous owner of the cabriolet, who shared that it was never officially sold here. Instead, only 3 were imported and this particular one was the last one standing! He had owned the car for 12 years, where he fitted the bodykit to make it more fun to drive.
The sedan was also de-registered as recently as April, and I wasn't aware of their existence until then. Some cars are indeed less collectible than others, and this is exactly what I aim to achieve with my blog: to document all kinds of old cars before they are gone for good!
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