Le Car. It ain’t even correct French. But it was a way of emphasize it’s ancestry for the US-market by the company that marketed it in America, AMC. And in 1979 there suddenly was this Le Car Van. And last week Small Scale Sidney presented his “normal” R5 and I promised to do this epic edition this week so here it is.
Initially it was based on the R5 TS but later on (1980) it was either an R5 Automatique or R5 Alpine that were used as a starting point. Production of these Specials wasn’t done at Renault’s themselves, for this Renault turned to Coachbuilder Heuliez. The company that’s famous for building several Group B cars like the 205 T16 and BX 4TC.
Heuliez also tried to dominate the Coupé-Convertible market with their retractable metal roofed 206CC and Opel Tigra Twin Top. Until 2013 when the company ended it’s business activity and all buildings and plant were taken over by Fabrique régionale du Bocage, a government owned company assembling a wide variety of products for Renault Défense and Airbus for example.
But Heuliez didn’t do just create race-cars, they produced all kinds of wagons for mainly Citroën. The BX-, CX- and even the XM Break: all were produced in Cerizay where the company was situated. So why not make a Van of one of Europe’s best selling compact cars?
Although that ‘Van’ part didn’t have anything to do with the profile and size of the car itself of course. It was designed to the spirit and image of the contemporary USA vans, incorporating thick carpets, porthole-style windows and mirrors, the sporty Alpine model bumpers and a Jeep-like exteriorly located spare wheel.
So it’s just a life-style wagon, a shag-wagon if you will even with that red thick carpet. It probably wasn’t meant for retailers anyway other than those with a need for small payloads but willing to show a different and sophisticated image. At least 450 people thought about the car this way anyway.
There’s probably a lot more to tell about this epic little Van but I’ll better leave that to Oppo’s Le Car authority Jonee (if anyone knows one for sale in 1:1 better contact him!). The model displayed over here is a 1/43 Altaya. Fragile as hell as you see that exhaust: I had to glue it back again as touching it slightly broke it instantly.
This quircky little portholed beast truly is a French oddity and therefor should be on your wish-list if you’re somewhat into French cars. You probably won’t be able to run out of the cops in their Megane RSs but your doing it in style so who cares.
C’est ca mon amies distingué! Wish you all a nice weekend, maybe I’ll do another Spaghetti Sunday again. Au revoir!