1907 Renault Type AI

35/45HP Vanderbilt Racer Runabout
Engine No. 225
Amelia Island 2020 - Bonhams
Friday, 6 March - Saturday, 7 March 2020
Sale Price
Lot Number
Older Restoration
Auction House
Chassis No. 8938, Engine No. 225. Red with a black top over black leather. RHD. 7.5-liter, 65-hp L-4. Progressive shift 4-speed transmission. Varnished wood-spoke wheels, Firestone tires, dual rear-mounted spares, Warner speedometer, no headlights or fenders.

Evaluation: Older restoration | One of about 10 built for Willie K. Vanderbilt and his well-heeled friends to scare chickens and sheep on Long Island’s Motor Parkway and race in early American events. Possibly driven by Louis Raffalovitch in the Brighton (Brooklyn) 24 hours in 1907. Discovered by singer/collector James Melton in 1946, sold to Cunningham driver Bill Spear, Jr., then acquired for the Indianapolis Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, where it lived for more than 60 years before being acquired by the consignor. Toured and vintage raced since, cosmetically freshened before the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours, where it won the prewar racing class, the Phil Hill Trophy and the Revs Institute Award. Sound older paint with touched-up scrapes and scratches. Good recent upholstery (original upholstery included). Dulling brass. Orderly, clean engine and chassis. Excellent running and driving Renault with impeccable provenance.

Bottom Line: Almost a modern “front mid-engine” layout, with the gigantic four-cylinder and gearbox placed far back in the chassis. Said to drive and handle exceptionally well (note there’s no mention of “brakes” in that observation). An exceptionally complete and well-preserved example in condition good enough to show but not so good it can’t—or shouldn’t—be driven. A centerpiece of any collection.

by Hagerty Editor
1 February 2020
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Condition definitions
Condition #1: Concours
Condition #1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best vehicle, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours. Perfectly clean, the vehicle has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one word description for #1 vehicles is “concours.“
Condition #2: Excellent
#2 vehicles could win a local or regional show. They can be former #1 vehicles that have been driven or have aged. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws, but will be able to find some not seen by the general public. The paint, chrome, glass and finishes will all appear as excellent. No excessive smoke will be seen on startup, no unusual noises will emanate from the engine. The vehicle will drive as a new vehicle of its era would. The one word description for #2 vehicles is “excellent.“
Condition #3: Good
#3 vehicles could possess some, but not all of the issues of a #4 vehicle, but they will be balanced by other factors such as a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior where applicable. #3 vehicles drive and run well, but might have some incorrect parts. These vehicles are not used for daily transportation but are ready for a long tour without excuses, and the casual passerby will not find any visual flaws. “Good” is the one word description of a #3 vehicle.
Condition #4: Fair
#4 vehicles are daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. The chrome might have pitting or scratches, the windshield might be chipped. Paintwork is imperfect, and perhaps the body has a minor dent. Split seams or a cracked dash, where applicable, might be present. No major parts are missing, but the wheels could differ from the originals, or other non- stock additions might be present. A #4 vehicle can also be a deteriorated restoration. “Fair” is the one word that describes a #4 vehicle.
Condition #5: Poor
Running, but battered, incomplete, and perhaps rusty.
Condition #6: Parts car
Parts car.
Hagerty only assigns condition ratings to vehicles we can inspect in person or, for online listings, via high-quality photography.