Tintin and Captain Haddock along with Professor Calculus boarded a bus full of General Alcazar’s rebel troops and headed for Tapiocapolis. When they entered the city they were dressed as the Picaros who were supposed to perform for General Tapioca. The bus they boarded was a DAF SB 1602 Jonckheere. The carnival scene depicted in the book shows the bus following a blue coloured car. This car is a Renault 12.
The Renault 12 was a large (by European standards) family car manufactured by Renault from 1969 till 2000. This car was manufactured in a very wide geographic area and that is the reason why some models were being produced even in 2000 though production stopped in Europe and other advanced markets much earlier in 1980. You could still buy a new Renault 12 in Turkey till 2000, in Romania as the Dacia 1310 till 2004 and later as a Dacia pickup till 2006. It was manufactured in France, Portugal, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Venezuela, Belgium, and New Zealand. A total of 2.5 million cars were manufactured worldwide. It was offered in three body styles: –
- A 4-door saloon called the “Berline”.
- A 5-door estate called the Break.
- A 3-door car derived van.
The mandate for designing the Renault 12 required it to be economical, not very sophisticated, roomy with a large boot and a small engine. It had to be easy to produce to allow global manufacturing and reliable enough to be exported. It had to be designed in a way that it could form the base for a number of variants. The Renault 12, as we saw earlier, met all these requirements. The car was launched in 1969 at the Paris Motor Show. It was initially launched as a sedan in two trim levels. The lower trim L had bench seats at the front while the TL was offered with reclining bucket seats. By this time 60% of cars offered in France were front wheel drive and the Renault 12 followed the trend. However, unlike modern front wheel drive cars, the engine was mounted longitudinally. It was positioned ahead of the wheels.
To cut down on price, the Renault 12 was offered with a rigid axle at the rear despite being a front wheel drive car. Renault had been championing the cause of all wheel independent suspension for the last 25 years and this step was considered as a retrograde move by many people. Again in a bid to price the car competitively, the iron block engine from the Renault 4/8 was preferred in place of the more modern and lighter Aluminum block from the Renault 16. Though later, this engine was offered in the performance versions like the “Gordini”. These cars were offered in solid pastels to differentiate them from other cars and had white racing stripes painted on them. The most popular scheme was a French Blue with white racing stripes. However, these cars were offered for a short period only between 1970 and 74.
The normal Renault 12s were powered by 1,289 cc (78 Cu-inch) naturally aspirated inline four cylinder engines which breathed through two valves per cylinder to generate 59 BHP at 5,500 rpm. They also generated 91 N-m (67 lb-ft) of torque at 3,500 rpm. All this torque and power was transferred to the front wheels through a four speed manual gear box. This engine could push the 4,348 mm (171.2″) long, 1,635 mm (64.4″) wide and 1,435 mm (56.5″) tall car weighing 1,350 Kg (2,976 lbs) to a top speed of 148 km/h (92 mph). They could do a 0-100 km/h in 15 seconds and a 0-60 mph in 14.2 seconds. On the other hand the “Gordini” produced 123 BHP and could reach a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph) with the help of a 5 speed gear box transmitting the power to the front wheels. The “Gordini” had a strengthened crank shaft, ventilated disc brakes at front and normal disc brakes at the rear.
Renault also sold a very small number of Alpine powered cars. Alpine is to Renault what AMG is to Mercedes and M is to BMW. These cars were mainly meant for participating in the local rallies. These cars had lightened fibre glass bonnets, race tuned suspension and custom paint schemes. They were powered by a 1,397 cc Alpine engine which produced 108 BHP and could push the car to a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph). They had fantastic handling thanks to an excellent suspension. Just 493 units were manufactured between 1977 and 1980.
This brings me to the close of my series on cars of Tintin. I am in the process of researching the planes/ trains etc depicted in the books and will come up with a series on those modes of transport.
In the meanwhile, I would like to introduce to my next series – “My Garage”, I shall be writing about the 200 odd model cars, I have collected over the years. The collection goes back to the time when I was just three and my father gifted me my first 1:32 scale model. Till next week Ciao.
I am a submariner mechanical engineer. I served the Indian Navy for 21 years. I am extremely passionate about means of mechanical transport developed by humans that include automobiles, trains, ships, submarines and aircraft. I am particularly passionate about cars and want to share this exciting world with all the people.