The 1,996-cc, 4-cylinder Renault Frégate, an executive saloon, was launched at the Paris Motor Show in the Palais de Chaillot

Thursday 30th November 1950

The 1,996-cc, 4-cylinder Renault Frégate, an executive saloon, was launched at the Paris Motor Show in the Palais de Chaillot. Although comfortable, the engine, according to the motoring press, didn’t have enough power and the car felt ‘heavy and lumpish to drive’. The first models were not delivered until November 1951. The assembly plant at Flins where the car was assembled, which had been renamed after Pierre Lefaucheux, was formally opened in October 1952. Production built up only slowly. Even in 1953 it was reported that the Frégate, with approximately 25,000 units sold on the French market, was comfortably outpaced by the standard wheelbase versions of Citroën’s ’11 Normale’ model, with approximately 35,000 sold that year, despite the Citroën being little changed since its unveiling fifteen years earlier and, since the war, available from the manufacturer’s French factory only in black.

From its appearance late in 1950 until 1953 the car was branded simply as the Frégate, but the nomenclature became more complicated at the Paris Motor Show in October 1952, and from early 1953 the Frégate was available in two trim levels, as the “Frégate Affaires” and the “Frégate Amiral”, advertised at 799,300 francs and 899,000 francs respectively The “Frégate Amiral” was little changed from the previous year’s Frégate, although the interior was slightly reworked and it did feature twin fog lights at the front whereas the previous year’s model came with just a single fog light. Further minor external modifications for the October 1953 Motor Show included updated door handles and a change to the badge on the car’s nose. The motif on the little shield was still diamond-shaped, but within the diamond the image of a three-masted frigate (“frégate”) had been replaced by a tiny outline map of mainland France containing the inscription “RNUR-France”.

The “Frégate Affaires” offered a price saving of approximately 100,000 francs in return for a reduced specification that involved a simplified dashboard, reduced interior trim, the removal of exterior chrome over-riders from the bumpers as well as the loss of the twin fog lights and windscreen washer which remained a standard feature on the “Frégate Amiral” The launch of a cut-price Frégate was presumably part of the same strategy that was behind the launch of the cut-price 4CV Service. Neither of these stripped down versions were well received by customers: in the Frégate’s case, this was one of several attempts to make the model more competitive that failed to shake Citroen’s dominance of the French market for large family cars.

Renault addressed the complaints about the lack of power from the 2 litre engine by introducing in 1956 the new 2141 cc Etendard engine, which produced 77 hp (57 kW). A new, luxurious Grand Pavois trim package was launched the same year.

In 1957 a three-speed ‘Transfluide’ semi-automatic transmission, incorporating a fluid coupling, became an option along with a slightly more powerful version of the 2141 cc engine producing 80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS) due to a compression ratio increase from 7.0:1 to 7,5:1.

The 1958 models saw another modified front grille. The prominent wide chrome oval and horizontal bars were removed to leave only the row of thin bars over which, since 1955, they had been placed.

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