Tintin and Captain Haddock were still in Switzerland. They had witnessed Professor Calculus being kidnapped in the Bordurian embassy. While they attempted to follow the kidnappers in a helicopter they ran out of fuel. We saw in the last post how they were struggling to find a lift to Borduria. In my last post they had failed hitch a hike in a Simca Vedette. The next car that they came across was another French car, a Renault Fregate.
The Fregate was a large car manufactured by Renault from 1951 to 1960. In today’s world, it would be equivalent to a Mercedes Benz E Class. These cars were offered in following body shapes:-
- 4-door saloon, named the Fregate.
- 5-door estate, named the Domaine and Manoir.
The car was conceived to cater to the French middle class in an economy that was expected to grow after the destruction caused by World War II. Initially it was conceived as a rear engined car, but later it was re-designed as a front engined car. It had a monocoque body, as was promoted by Renault and was endowed with plenty of interior space. The Fregate was offered in two trim levels, the lower spec “Affaires” and the high spec “Amiral”.It cocooned its occupants in reasonable levels of luxury, though the build quality was not up to the mark.
The Fregate was powered by 4-cylinder inline 1,997 cc (121.86 Cu-in) naturally aspirated petrol engine. This engine had one intake and one exhaust valve per cylinder and produced 56 BHP at 4,000 rpm. It also produced a pulling power of 131N-m (97 ft-lb) at 2,300 rpm. In 1957 a second 2,141 cc (130.65 Cu-inch) Etendard engine was introduced. This was another inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that produced 77 BHP at 4,100 rpm and 152 N-m (112 ft-lb)of torque at 2,200 rpm.
Both these engines transmitted drive to the rear wheels through either four speed manual gearbox or a 3-speed semi-automatic gearbox which was introduced in 1956. The manual gearbox had synchromesh on all four gears which were selected using a column mounted gear selector. The car weighed 1,230 kg (2,712 lbs). It was a large car, with a length of 4,700 mm (185″), width of 1,720 mm (67.7″) and height of 1,540 mm (60.6″). The Super Etendard could push this car to a top whack of 135 km/h (84 mph).
The car was good to drive but had a typically french soft ride. This was achieved through an all round fully independent suspension. Stopping power was provided by drum brakes on all four wheels.