1910 Renault AX
Year of manufacture1910
Number of seats2
1910 Renault AX 8HP
Registration no. AM 1812
Chassis no. AX24695
The little twin-cylinder Renault AX had its first public showing at the 1908 London Motor Show. It was welcomed by the French magazine Omnia in the following terms: "It is very much to the taste of the public, who see it as a move towards the voiturette... that car for poor people that can render so many services. I hope that they won't weigh down this nice little chassis, built to carry neat two-seater bodywork, with huge coachwork capable of carrying five people!"
But of course they did, for the twin-cylinder Renault chassis was quickly adapted as a taxicab, in which guise the model was well-known in Paris and London, its finest hour being the rushing of reinforcements to the front in September 1914 when the advancing German Army threatened Paris. This achievement earned the Renault taxi the proud title "Taxi de la Marne", its immortality guaranteed by the preservation of one of those gallant Renault taxis in Les Invalides in Paris.
This car, however, is the archetypal two-seater, which became well-known in the hands of one of the great characters of the Veteran Car Club, Louis Holland, who had trained his African Grey parrot to imitate a Klaxon and sing "Get out and get under", and who apart from a wonderful collection of automobilia owned 6000 78 rpm gramophone records (including all Edwardian comedian Harry Tate's "Motoring" sketches and a recording of 10,000 trained canaries singing "Liebestraum"...).
Louis was a great friend of Michael Banfield's, so when the opportunity came at a Brooks sale in December 2000 for Michael to acquire Louis' trademark Renault AX, he successfully bid for it. Originally imported through Renault agents A. Gaal Ltd of Hanover Square, Regent Street, London, whose dealer plate is strategically displayed on the bonnet, this well-known Edwardian comes complete with a buff logbook detailing its owners from 1956 until Louis Holland acquired it in 1961. Purchased by the current owner in 2014, AM 1812's red and grey two-seater bodywork bears the gentle patination of appreciative use over the past half-century and is said to be running well.