Renault is celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of its most popular models - the Renault 16.
Described by the French carmaker as “one of the most ingenious saloon cars of its day”, the 16 like the Renault 4 before it featured a lift-up tailgate.
This turned what might have been another small family sedan into something unique at the time and became the basis for a styling feature now common everywhere - the hatchback.
First unveiled at the 1965 Geneva Motor Show, the 16 went on to record 1,851,502 sales in the years that followed. In 1966, the 16 was declared Car Of The Year in Europe.
Renault’s 16 was a two-box affair with six windows, with design elements befitting then-Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus’ instructions to build something that stood out from its rivals.
“We have to take a different approach,” Dreyfus said. “Cars can’t just be four seats and a boot any longer. They must be viewed as a volume.”
Speaking of volume, the boot could hold vast amounts of cargo for its day, thanks to a rear seat that could be folded, slid forward or removed. However, the rear seat could also be reclined and was able to accommodate a child’s booster seat.
Taking further lead from the Renault 4 before it, the 16 was front-wheel-drive, while the engine featured aluminium components.
Three years later, Renault moved the 16 somewhat upmarket by fitting standard two-speed wipers with washer jets, an internal rear-view mirror with a day/night switch and a heated rear windscreen.
In 1969, Renault added reverse lights, electric windows in the front, an electric sunroof and leather trim.
Strangely enough, it also had a longer wheelbase on one side, than the other. This was thanks to the way the 16's long-travel torsion bar suspension operated, responsible for the 16's amazingly compliant ride.
In Australia, the 16 clocked up 13,000 sales in the 1960s and 70s, and was built in Heidelberg, Victoria between 1966 and 1981.