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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