Quirky French Project: 1924 Renault 6CV NN

We’ve all seen project vehicles where the restoration has proceeded at a snail’s pace, and this Renault 6CV (or Renault NN) is a perfect example. The owner purchased the car 30-years-ago as a restoration project, and this is as far as the restoration has proceeded. The next owner will have some work ahead of them to return the car to active duty, but it is probably unusual enough to justify the effort. Barn Finder Fred H referred this great little classic to us, so thank you so much for that Fred. The Renault is located in Marbury, Alabama, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the French classic has reached $2,025, and with the reserve having been met, it looks like the restoration baton is about to be passed on to a new owner.

For me, the Renault is a bit of a mystery machine, and we may have some Barn Finds readers who can fill in a few of the blanks on the car for us. The owner initially lists the car as a 1924 model, but then covers his bets by referring to it as a 1924 to 1929 model. This is where the difficulty lies. The NN was produced between 1924 and 1929, but there were two distinct series of cars. The NN1 was built between 1924 and 1928, while the NN2 was built during 1928 and 1929. The NN2 was a larger vehicle, but there is nothing in the photo that allows us to get an accurate scale on vehicle size. Otherwise, the Renault NN is going to require complete restoration. There appear to be a few pieces missing from the body, such as the small round grille from the front edge of the hood, but even if a replacement can’t be sourced, a good metal fabricator might be able to create a replacement from photos. The body and frame appear to be solid but have a pretty heavy coating of surface corrosion that will need to be addressed. The timber-work is interesting because Renault used a lot of teak in their vehicles during this period, and given its robust nature when used in boat construction, there is a good chance that the teak on this car is still quite sound.

Restoration of the interior of the Renault has the potential to throw up one or two problems for the next owner, and it will be interesting to see how these could be tackled. The seat is in good condition, but I don’t believe that it is original. The steering wheel is in pretty good condition, but the rest of the interior is a blank canvas for the next owner. That blank canvas look may pose some problems. If the next owner has their heart set on a faithful restoration, then the fact that there are no gauges in the dash could cause a certain amount of heartache. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that these items are not available new, and sourcing good second-hand ones in the USA might prove to be difficult. I have done an internet search for them, and haven’t had a lot of luck. It may be that the next owner will have to consider sourcing these directly from a French supplier unless they are willing to compromise by using some vintage-look modern gauges.

This was the moment when I was most disappointed because the Renault appears to be something of an “automotive Frankenstein.” The engine bay should contain a rather neat little 951cc flathead 4-cylinder engine, which sends its power to the rear wheels via a 3-speed manual transmission. When the owner bought the Renault, both of these items were missing, so what you have now is a 4-cylinder Corolla engine and transmission. These both ran a few years back, but it doesn’t sound like the owner has made any attempt to fire the car up recently. It is also worth noting that the car isn’t fitted with its original wheels, and the ones that are on the car look like they might have started life on a Ford. This might not be a bad thing, because a bit of research has turned up some interesting information on this front. I have looked at a couple of other restoration projects that have been completed in the US in recent times, and these owners have had difficulty locating tires to fit the original wheel. Both have chosen to follow a similar path to this one, but utilizing Ford Model T wheels. The lack of original drive-train is disappointing because it means that the Renault has lost some of its most interesting engineering features. The original engine was capable of producing a modest 8.3hp, which allowed the car to reach a peak speed of 43mph. As with many cars of the era, the fuel tank was located in the car’s cowl, but unusually, the engine radiator was mounted directly in front of the fuel tank, not right at the front of the car, as per regular automotive convention. The car featured a 12-volt electrical system and an electric starter. The starter was actually a combination starter/generator and was driven directly off the engine’s crankshaft. If the car needed to be started using the crank, this slotted directly into the starter, rather than into the crank. The 6CV was an incredibly robust car, and to prove this, Renault ran one on a test track for a continuous 203 incredible hours. In the process, the car clocked up more than 10,000 trouble-free miles. The other claim to fame for the 6CV is that it was the first automobile to complete a solo crossing of the Sahara Desert.

The next owner of this Renault 6CV NN is going to face some decisions. It is definitely possible, although not easy, to source an original engine and transmission for the vehicle from France. Finding replacement gauges is going to be difficult, but it may not be impossible. So, does the next owner try to head down that path, and attempt to complete a faithful restoration? Or, would it just be smarter and easier to continue on the path being forged by the current owner, with a faithfully restored exterior, and a more modern engine and transmission hiding beneath? Which way would you go?

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Comments

  1. redwagon

    I think it would be crazy to propel this thing with a more modern corolla engine. Seems it would be too easy to outdrive the safety level of the car.

    5
  2. Kurt

    Where would one find an original engine and tranny? Sacre bleu!

    3
  3. ctmphrs Member

    I think the stock engine would overdrive the safety of this car. 45 mph seems scary fast for this car.

    2
  4. Chris Spuler

    I believe the engine is out of a Toyota truck not a Corolla. If you look at the interior shot, there is a second shifter lever which I believe might be a 4-wheel drive trans out of a truck. The second indication is the drive shaft laying on the ground. It is a split driveshaft which is what came in the older Toyota pickups

  5. bobhess Member

    No problem with an engine upgrade here. 8.3 hp sort of makes the original engine useless. Kind of like the Ford wheels. They fit the look of the car and as said, you can get tires for them. Saw one of these at a repair shop while at Le Mans in ’76. Pretty beefy frame and springs. A shock upgrade would probably do wonders for the handling. The French always used to build cars that you could almost see both door handles at the same time in a hard corner. Get it running, paint the body and go have some fun with it.

  6. Lance

    Thats a special kind of ugly.

  7. Fossil

    I saw a car like this in Old Dutch Valley Tennessee some years ago in among a collection of cars owned by an old dude who used to go into his shop several days a week just to tinker and look at them. Seemed to remind him of years gone by. I nearly bought two cars from him, however his price changed daily and the deals fell through.
    He stated that the Renault he had was the one that featured in the love scene in the ship’s hold in the film Titanic. I re-watched the film and he may have been telling the truth. Anyway it was far too gone for me, but he claimed it was running.

  8. bog

    I’m visualizing this in a WWII street scene. And since I have a fondness for older automotive items, I find it quite oddly interesting. There were plenty of “oddly interesting” cars when I lived in Europe during the 60’s. 15 years ago I’d have jumped all over this one.

    1

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