Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars
Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

It is built by Jean Rédelé. But it ain’t an Alpine. But fellow French Friday adept TFritch already did a piece on this little nimble car so you might recognize it. Le Renault Spéciale Rédélé.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em
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And one thing that surprised me on this little model is the fact it has the air intake, for letting air to the radiator in the back, in it’s rear wheel wells. As the Rédélé Speciale I thought I knew had it a bit differently.

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I can imagine the air needed for cooling getting to the radiator better the way the model has it. And as TFritch stated already: 3 were made and this is supposed to be the last one.

Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em
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And as they were entirely made by hand none of the 3 were the same anyway. Well, the chassis was Renault’s 4CV of course. But designed by Michelotti and build by the Italian coachbuilder Allemano it seems a bit odd the differences to be this big. All this tinkering on the 4CV eventually led to the Alpine A106. With one stop-over.

Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em
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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

And that’s what this “Renault Spéciale Rédélé” looks more like actually. The Marquis. There’s an interesting story on Velocetoday.com that explains how the 2nd, not 3rd, Rédélé Spéciale was slightly modified, tidied up, prepared and shipped to the USA for the New York Motor Show of 1954.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

It was used to raise interest and promote sales of a car planned to be built in the USA called the “Marquis”.

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It was Zark W. Reed, an American “tactician” and owner of the “Plasticar Co.”, who wanted to proceed with creating cars in America using fiberglass after a project together with Renault and their “Rosier”. He wanted to create the “Rogue” on that, a roadster.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

But after meeting Jean Rédélé in Paris and driving his first Spéciale Rédélé he was hooked and wanted to produce something like that in America. And of course Rédélé jumped at the chance of finding himself potentially in the saddle for a production deal and a shot at the huge and lucrative American market. Despite Alpine hadn’t even started.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

The Renault Spéciale Rédélé still had a metal body and Reed had experience with fiberglass in his Rogue project so it was a win-win situation. And there it becomes interesting. As the mold Reed got was based on...

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

Renault Spéciale Rédélé number 2. For Rédélé this was perfect, and the car was sent by ship to the New York Motor Show early in 1954. Reed had moved fast; brochures were made and he published photos of the car in preparation for production. It received flattering comments from all over the place.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

But this fiberglass dream was about to turn to a nightmare for PlastiCar Inc, Rédélé and Renault. As federal law in the US had requirements Reed’s employers hadn’t taken into account, like the sealed beams and their location. Or, as the fiberglass-process wasn’t fully developed yet, the bodies being not any lighter than a normal body. While lightness was key for a sportscar with such a small engine.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

But Reed already had ordered (and to pay) 150 Renault Chassis’ and engines. And, the Rédélé Spéciale was used for that other project of Reed, the Rogue. When Jean learnt about all this he cancelled the license fee. But with no money to take the #2 back to France it was left behind.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

To be rebuilt somewhat later. By a Bob Holbert. Who sold it to Raymond Buckwalter in 1958 after Bob had raced it locally for some years. In Raymond’s barn it was found decades later, which story you can read in the “Barnfind” story on velocetoday.com.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

But let’s not forget the cast here is the successor of the #2. So let’s leave it to this and enjoy the fact our working week has ended. Bon Week-End!

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: les Marques de Jeanem/em

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