French Frenzy #1 – 1974 Renault R12 Break

Update: After only 7 bids, this car sold to an experienced eBay bidder for $1501.24 on May 13, 2009. I’d be totally interested to meet someone who is nuts enough about weird cars to buy one of these.

Original Post: Many interesting old (and budget-friendly) French cars seem to be showing up this week. My only memory associated with this car is of Carlos, a Mexican playmate of mine in Montreal whose family had a rusty red one of these parked in their driveway. In itself, this is not a particularly attractive or technologically interesting car, but it wins points for the oddball factor, and I’d imagine parts are reasonably easy to come by since they were produced under license until recently. I think the only ones I’ve seen since then were either in France or the licensed Dacia version. Hey, you could win a whole cadre of Romanian friends driving this thing around!



This red R12 wagon looks in pretty remarkable shape, having been used as a towed vehicle behind a camper and even then only having 44,000 miles.


Renault R12 Break rear view

Looks pretty good from the rear too. It does show a little rust, but that’s to be expected in an Ohio car.

Renault R12 Break engine

Where’s the engine?? US-market cars got the aluminum 1.6 from the Renault 16, longitudinally mounted with front-wheel-drive and generating 65hp in 1974. The engine compartment looks reasonably clean but certainly not tidy by design. Apparently it runs well despite 9-10 years of storage.

Renault R12 Break interior

Dash and interior look to be complete and in good shape. Too bad I’m not in Ohio, this is a pretty cool oddball car for short money – as of this writing, reserve has been met at $1200 with just over a day left. The caveat is even the Renault club site & forum doesn’t seem to have much on R12s.

By now you’ve probably guessed part of my strategy for budget fun is to look outside of the mainstream. It’s worked fairly well for me so far, and if you’re careful you can get a decent deal without seeing yourself coming and going every day.

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10 Responses to “French Frenzy #1 – 1974 Renault R12 Break”

  1. Larry Melanson Says:

    I had one of these wagons in the 80’s. It ran like a top and got great gas mileage. The only real problem they had was the brake lines would rust easy. The other problem I had was a short in the rear window defogger.If you find another one, as long as it runs well, I’d buy it! Back in the day, people thought it was a Mercedes-Benz wagon and I received many complements on it.

  2. Steve Says:

    Wow, just found this on line. I am the crazy nut that bought this car in May 2009. Still waiting for a fuel pump to arrive so I can start drving it. My goal is to take it to local car shows and confuse everyone! Car came complete with tow bar so towing it home was a breeze. How many of these were imported in to the US and how many are left? Steve Chapman, Ohio

  3. Chris Keen Says:

    How cool! Glad to connect with someone else who’s fascinated by unusual (and undesirable for most folks!) cars. As I’m learning with my Lancia Beta sedan, it can be challenging, but fun.

  4. Eddie Says:

    I bought a 1974 R12 sedan in January of 2009 from Wisconsin. I purchased it for $500 and the guy said it’s been sitting in a barn for many many years. I have been collecting various parts for it for the past 6 months and in a few weeks I will attempt to get it running. I actually spoke to the guy that purchased the red wagon before I saw this site. Now you can add one more crazy nut to this list. Here’s a link with the pictures http://forum.4tuning.ro/109-masina-mea-dacia/131883-renault-r12-america-transformat-dacia-1300-a.html

  5. Chris Keen Says:

    Looks pretty nice for a snowbelt car. Western-state people would probably kill for a dashboard in that shape, but what the happened to the steering wheel? That one-speaker boombox in the center console is pretty sweet too.

  6. 1978 Renault R17 Gordini « Rusty But Trusty Says:

    [...] This particular car is a 17 Gordini, listed on craigslist in St. Genevieve county, MO for $1800. It’s the top of the range with the 107hp (Euro power – I’m guessing less with smog controls) fuel-injected R1313 engine originally seen in the 16 TS, plus a 5-speed transmission. While this car is the last to carry the Gordini name, it’s not clear that he actually had anything to do with modifying the car. Most of the underneath of the car is shared with the more humble Renault 12. [...]

  7. Tom Says:

    i am from the Netherlands am drive my 1974 R12 TR automatic 1300cc
    everyday to my work 36 km on a day and i am doing that for about 3 years now.
    it runs very well and is easy to maintain (atleast it is for me in europe)
    see my websit for pictures(not everyday online)

  8. Poze inedite cu masini - Page 98 - Craiova Forum Says:

    [...] plus jentile alea cam par de renault 12 jentile de la daciile de export erau altele ps: cam pare renault 12, ps: tampoanele alea mari erau mai la toate masinile din california(aia era legea) [...]

  9. Pierre Chanut Says:

    I’m the new owner of the 1974 R- 12 wagon Does any one know of anyone else that may have parts for a weber carb. for this car ? Thank you , Pierre C. corvanlakewood@yahoo.com

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