Automatique Équipé: 1970 Renault 16 TA

The seller describes this 1970 Renault 16 TA as “Lovely, strange, and wonderful” – I would agree. I have evolved into being a fairly big fan of Renaults after getting my 1987 GTA almost two years ago now. This green 16 can be found here on Craigslist in the capital city of the great state of Oklahoma: Oklahoma City. The seller is asking $4,800 for this one. Thanks goes to Roger for sending in the tip on this Renault 16!

I love this design, but I like my vehicles on the unusual side, that’s how I fell in love with my 1987 Renault GTA, the only French car that I have ever owned. The Renault 16, or R16, was made for around a decade and a half, ending with the 1980 models. The R16 is a hatchback but unfortunately, we don’t get to see inside of the rear cargo space.

Something is going on with the left front fender, why it’s such a clean break from the adjacent green door is a mystery. The seller says that this R16 “some chips, dents, scratches, hail dings, and flaws. Trim complete and body solid with no to minimal rust. Could use a respray. Good glass all around”. In case any of you had second thoughts about the R16, here’s what Stirling Moss had to say about them in 1970, “There is no doubt that the Renault 16 is the most intelligently engineered automobile I have ever encountered and I think that each British motorcar manufacturer would do well to purchase one just to see how it is put together”

The “A” part of TA refers to this car having an automatic transmission. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen an R16 with an automatic transmission, but here it is. I guess it isn’t the end of the world as long as it works great. The interior looks great both front and back. The seller says that they “Acquired from original owner who took delivery at factory in France”. In the last 1,000 miles, this car has had “4 new 155R14 radial tires and tubes, Brakes, Muffler.”

The engine in this Renault 16 should be Renault’s 1.6L inline-four with around 80-85 hp. The TA was introduced in 1969 and I have never seen one of these cars with an automatic, I would much rather have a 4 or 5-speed in this car. The seller has included a YouTube video showing this R16 running, check it out if you have any Dramamine handy.. just kidding. Have any of you owned an R16? How about an R16 TA?


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  1. Terry Johns

    Great cars owned several. Actually it was a front mid engine car

    Like 2
  2. mark

    Absolute French Junk.

    • ken TILLY Member

      @mark. You obviously have never owned one. There is a lot of American junk out there as well but we can’t comment on them as junk unless we have owned them. I have owned a Renault 16 TS and it was one of the best cars that I have ever owned, and I’ve had over 200. The seats were designed by an orthopedic surgeon I believe.

      Like 10
    • Pam

      One of the greats in handling and comfort! Will always love them. Not junk at all. I have owned these and would love another but with manual transmission.

      Like 2
    • Bruce

      Some of the details could use some further thought but the basic engine, transmission and suspensions of these cars over the years have proven to be excellent. They are not designed to suffer the abuse of fools as most American cars are but if you treat them well you can get amazing number of miles without any trouble at all.

      I agree with Mr. Moss in most ways. That being said they are designed around French laws which makes them generally underpowered for most other countries. Better miles per gallon and they can survive truly awful roads better than most which I think says something about French Roadways. As for looks, generally they have the kind of looks only a mother could love and then only if she was blind.

      Like 2
  3. Andrew Gerns Member

    The Mini gets a lot of (deserved) credit for paving the way for modern cars, but the Renault 16 also set the stage. Today, we don’t think twice about a front wheel drive four door with a hatch, but the R16 did its part. But it had it share of eccentricities, too. Such as the fact the wheelbase on the left is longer than on the right. Also, the transmission was forward of the engine, with the engine aligned lengthwise in the vehicle. Many good ideas, but as noted above the cars had a poor reputation for quality and when the VW Dasher and Saab 99 came along, they did the job better than the R16.

  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    I remember that the Automatique trans had solenoids for changing gears and they could be a nightmare to fix.

    Like 2
  5. RayT Member

    I owned a 4-speed (later swapped in a 5-speed) R16, Scotty. It was even the same shade of green originally, though I changed that when I rebuilt the car. It just didn’t come off well in that color….

    And I have seen one automatic 16, which I was unable to drive as it was sitting in a Pick-Your-Part yard (well, most of it was) awaiting the crusher. I doubt I missed much: the standard 16 took an eternity to get up to speed (like many French cars, once it got there, you could hold a high average thereafter as long as there was gas in the tank). As the 5-speed trans. used the same front mount as the automatic, I quickly added that part to my stash.

    I wish I still owned mine. The seats were fantastic, the ride quality approached Citroen levels of comfort, and it had an incredible amount of room in back for whatever you needed to move.

    As for quality: mine was about 12 years old when I bought it from the original owner. I doubt he had ever had any maintenance work done (probably hadn’t even washed it!), yet everything worked, and worked well. I pulled the engine down (it had 100K-plus miles on it), and wound up replacing only gaskets, bearings and piston rings. Everything appeared to have been put together well, and even the plastic trim — a sore spot on French cars — was in great condition after years in the California sun.

    Of the 20 or so cars I’ve owned over the years, this is probably Number Two on the Wish-I-Hadn’t-Sold-It List.

    Like 7
  6. local_sheriff

    The 16 was well ahead of it’s time and paved way for other European hatches like VW Passat and Austin Maxi.In my childhood 16s and 12s,it’s sibling, could be seen parked in at least one driveway in any neighborhood.I don’t think anyone really cared about these at that time as they rotted away one by one…

    I’ve never been a French car fan, but a friend of mine restores and collects Renaults AND Mopars(!). I respect those that actually care to preserve these ugly ducklings ; Renaults of this vintage sure is ‘different’ in most ways.

    As for US-sold 16s, I’d believe 1st owners would be rather ‘Franceophile’ persons with non-exsistant desire for speed. Who the hell opted for an auto in a 16;these were already SLOW vehicles when new,euro variants could even be had with a 1.4 liter engine…

    There cannot be many left of these in the US, it’d be a cool car for the right fan!

    Like 2
  7. Ike Onick

    I thought ‘equipe’ meant “team” in English? That would make sense as it would require an ‘equipe’ of mechanics to keep one of these running.

    • ken TILLY Member


      Like 4
      • Ike Onick

        Thoughtful response. Merci.

        Like 2
      • RayT Member

        Now, now, Ken. I maintained my own R16 (plus several R5s and a R10), and consider myself a “one-man equipe”!

        Like 4
  8. Wayne

    Being somewhat of a French car fan. I believe that the 16 suffered from terminal ugly. I am generally a form follows function kind of guy that also likes different. But this car, like many ’70s Japanese (Datsun F10 anyone?) cars of the ’60s and ’70s (and you can toss in the Pontiac Aztec) are just plain ugly. Come on, the British, Italian, some German and many American cars of the time had style! Now days, there are so many people that just look at cars as a tool. That if the tool works well, it will sell in some reasonable numbers. (early Honda Element for example) So, the 16 might sell now.
    The 16 was a great car. One of the worlds best kept secrets. With more go power and a little style. It really could have helped established Renault in this country. Instead of Renault just being an asterisk in US auto history. Look what the 510 and 240Z did for Datsun. Clean, reliable fun cars equalled success.

  9. Dan D

    Best. Video. Ever.

    Like 1
  10. John

    As I recall the wheelbase was different on the right and left.

    Like 2
    • RayT Member

      Correct. The rear suspension used transverse torsion bars, mounted one ahead of the other to not intrude on interior space. The trailing arms that connected the bars with the wheels were of the same length. Don’t remember exactly, but the length difference side-to-side was certainly no more than an inch or two.

      The front torsion bars were longitudinal.

      Like 1
  11. King Brude

    Stirling, as in the Scottish city, Moss, not Sterling (though you’d need a bit of that to keep this running…).

    Last couple of these I saw were rusting slowly away by a rail station in the mid 1990s.

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Arrrrgh, I had Stirling and autocorrection must have grabbed it, my apologies.

      Like 2
  12. taxijohn

    Those who have never owned them will not understand, but French cars of this period were superb, comfortable, stylish & economical & I’ve owned a few!! Yes they suffered from serious rust problems but so did everything else on the road in the 60’s/70’s.

  13. Wayne

    taxijohn, I agree with all the statements except “stylish”! Sorry but my HO.

    • taxijohn

      Style is a very subjective thing, I have always gone for the love ;em or hate ’em styles, the sort that smack you in the face & either make you smile or puke!!! I find the majority of today’s offerings very bland & uninteresting, the trend for crossover vehicles & the suv/people carriers that went before are in the main “dull” in my opinion. There are obviously exceptions. Everyone has their favourite’s but for me over here in the UK the golden age was 1955-1970.

      Like 1
  14. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    20 comments for a car that has 3 lug nuts per wheel.

    • Ike Onick

      Big surprise! Three lug nuts from the same folks who waste time adding “S” and “H” to words and never pronounce them.. “Sans” Homme” They have probably killed an Amazon rain forest with all the paper they have wasted over the past 700 years. mon dieu!

  15. dweezilaz

    Never liked them when they were new, but this one was the second feature I clicked on after the 65 Ford Custom.

    What I wouldn’t give to see a new car available with such tall windows and visibility.

    Styling is not that much different than VW’s larger Type 3

  16. Lawrence

    my first car was a new 1971 R16 for 2700$ It was far and away the most wonderful car I ever owned. It would float over the worst roads and never lose traction easily keeping pace with expensive German and British sports and sedan models. It would cruise at 80mph without effort in quite comfort absolutely glued to the road in rain snow and ice. The aerodynamics were amazing and windy conditions barely deflected its course. The seats are amazing and recline into a bed like a vintage Nash. Although it was of meager power once underway it was a car that would make great time point to point without fatigue. I put 66000 miles on mine in the first two years for the love of driving it great distances. If anyone has an R16 to sell I am very interested in purchasing another as long as it is not automatic.

    Like 2
  17. Lawrence

    Wanted! Renault R 16! Looking for a non automatic that is in good driving condition.

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