1929 Renault 15CV Vivasix Landaulette de Ville Coachwork by Karl Strakosch Registration no. not UK registered Chassis no. 475583 Engine no. 974
Founded by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand in 1898, the company that would become France's biggest automobile manufacturer started humbly enough, with a solitary 1¾hp De Dion-engined prototype. By 1904 Renault was building its own engines - large-capacity fours at first, followed by the AX twin - and in 1908 introduced its first six-cylinder model despite Louis Renault's aversion to such complication. Sixes were an established feature of the Renault range by the 1920s, and in 1925 a new 3.2-litre 15CV six-cylinder model was introduced, replacing the similar-sized four. Renault's first six with a detachable cylinder head, the 15CV retained the familiar sidevalve layout and came with only three speeds in the gearbox, such was the new engine's low-speed pulling power, while the single-plate clutch was a welcome improvement on the previous cone type. The 15CV was renamed 'Vivasix' for 1928, with choice of either magneto or coil-and-battery ignition systems, while the four-wheel brakes gained servo assistance. There was also a more luxuriously appointed version, the 'Vivastella'.
Featuring unusual and most attractive coachwork by the somewhat obscure coachbuilder, Karl Strakosch of Wien (Vienna), this right-hand drive, six-cylinder Renault dates from the period when conventional front-mounted radiators (which this car has) were beginning to replace Renault's traditional rear-mounted type. The current vendor purchased the car as a 'for restoration barn find' at Bonhams' sale at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu in September 2006 (Lot 432). At that time it was stated that the remains of the original Austrian registration number - 'W2223' - were still on the rear plate, while the cracked windscreen, which had been removed, had the Austro-Hungarian double-headed eagle on it. The engine turned freely on the handle. We said at the time that this Vivasix would make a wonderful car when fully restored, and so it has proved, the owner making an excellent job of the project. The only notified fault is a noisy 2nd gear and the big Renault recently completed a circa 200-mile rally without any problems. Accompanying documentation consists of the original Austrian logbook (in German) and current Irish registration papers.