1920 Renault Type EUCoupé de Ville
Year of manufacture1920
- An interesting and elegant Renault featuring rare coachwork and remarkable provenance
- Previously owned by MGM Studios; featured in the 1931 film Mata Hari starring Greta Garbo, and the star car of the 1941 Marx Brothers film, The Big Store
- Powered by an inline-four cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission
- Later owned by renowned antique car collectors Lindley Bothwell and Terry Hulman
- Deaccessioned from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in October 2020
When Renault returned to automobile manufacture after World War I, the product line owed much to pre-war designs. The iconic “coal scuttle” bonnet, wooden artillery wheels, and firewall-mounted radiator re-emerged, although all new cars had full-electric starting and lighting. Furthermore, the four-cylinder models now had monobloc engines.
Among the new models which Renault debuted at the 1919 Paris Motor Show was the Type EU, which featured a 132-inch wheelbase and paired its inline-four-cylinder engine with a three-speed manual transmission. Renault produced the Type EU from 1919 through 1923, with most bodies provided by a contingent of France’s leading coachbuilders in a variety of styles. Representing one of Europe’s longest tenured coachbuilding dynasties, the Parisian firm of Henry Binder et Cie were regularly commissioned by Panhard, Rolls-Royce, and Renault to execute designs worthy of display at marquee exhibitions across the European continent.
FROM PARIS TO HOLLYWOOD TO INDIANAPOLIS
This 1920 Type EU Coupé de Ville was delivered new to Auto-Palace Concessionaires on 1 October, and thusly purchased by a wealthy Parisian family. With its elegant Henry Binder Coupe de Villé body, this Renault must certainly have been an eye-catching, chauffeur-driven affair. The car’s finely detailed HERA window regulators are noted period accessories which only the most well-heeled individuals would have elected for installation.
Approximately 10 years later, the car was purchased during a prop-finding trip to Paris by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for use in their films; notable screen credits include the 1931 film Mata Hari starring Greta Garbo, and a role as the star car of the 1941 Marx Brothers feature The Big Store. At some later point, it was acquired from an MGM backlot by the renowned antique automobile collector Lindley Bothwell of La Habra, California. Bothwell did little with the car, and later sold it in October 1966 to businessman, collector, and owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Terry Hulman. Hulman reportedly had the Renault restored to its present polychrome brown livery and a period-style upholstery at this time, whereupon the car was shipped to his collection in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Upon Hulman’s passing in 1977, it was transferred to the assets of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation and displayed within their public museum for much of the following decade. It was deaccessioned from the museum’s holdings in October of 2020 and acquired by the consignor. Since purchase, the consignor has had the fuel tank and fuel delivery system sorted, and reports that the car performs without issue.
Now accompanied by personal correspondence between Bothwell and Hulman, this remarkable and uniquely outfitted 1920 Renault Type EU Coupé de Ville boasts both undeniably interesting provenance and charming aesthetics.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/hf21.