26 February 2020
Historic classic rides #3: Renault 12
For this particular historic piece, I try to cover cars that existed here previously but have gone the way of the dodo. It is more interesting to see the large variety of classics we had previously, but unfortunately were unloved for some reason or another to keep them till today. This 1972 Renault 12 TL is a prime example of an unexpected classic that you would not have seen before!
The Renault 12 was first conceived in 1964, where it was known as Project 117. Some of the criteria included having a roomy interior, reliable for export markets, economical and easy to produce. It was supposed to be a new model that bridged the gap between the Renault 8 and Renault 16. The body styling took cues from the 16, though the engine was placed in front of the wheels instead. Initially available only as a 4-door sedan in 1969, a 5-door estate and 3-door van version were introduced in the 70s. The TL trim featured door armrests, separate reclining seats and even a vanity mirror. It was powered by a 1289 cc Cleon-Fonte i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 148 km/h with an acceleration of 15 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4348 mm long and weighed only 950 kg, with a fuel consumption of around 14 litres/100 km.
Production of the 12 ended in 1980 where it was succeeded by the more successful 18. Around 2.5 million units were made, where it was built in places such as Romania, Oceania and South America. While it received praise in European markets for its spacious, comfortable interior, styling cues and low fuel consumption, it was criticised in the US market for being too noisy, having heavy steering and a less-than-ideal ventilation system. In Singapore, the R12 first appeared in 1970, where it was sold by Progress Motors Limited.
As of today, none are known to exist here and it seems like no one has tried to import one too. It is a quirky car that looks really normal, and I often wonder why people do not really hold on to French classics compared to German ones. It was able to transport people in comfort, reliable and even helped to save fuel...I would love to see one in Singapore someday. Not many people would remember that this car existed, and I certainly did not know about it had I not come across this archive picture. I hope this has been an interesting trip down memory lane, do let me know if you want to see a specific car being covered here!