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, the sprung rear axle of which would soon be copied by many contemporaries. Production at the Billancourt factory was soon under way on a large scale, demand for its products being enhanced by the performance of Renault cars in the great inter-city races so popular in France at the turn of the 19th Century.
From the outset Renault engineering was of the highest quality and the arrival of multi-cylinder models really put the company on the map. By 1904 Renault was building its own engines: large-capacity fours at first, followed by the AX twin that later developed into the AG, famous for its WWI role as the 'Taxi de la Marne'. Powered by a 1,100cc twin-cylinder engine of 8hp and featuring the 'coal scuttle' bonnet and rear-mounted radiator that would characterise Renaults until the late 1920s, the AX arrived at a time when the motor car was beginning to gain a measure of respectability. The unreliability of early cars had provided good cause for public scepticism but the advent of the AX, destined to become Renault's pre-WWI best seller, ushered in a new era. Here was an easy-to-drive car of simple design, whose mechanical workings even a technically illiterate layman might begin to understand. The water-cooled twin with its mechanically operated valves was simple and robust, endearing qualities to the novice motorist, and the three-speed gearbox was easy to master. For so small a car the AX possessed unparalleled flexibility between 5mph and 35mph in top gear, clinging to that gear on all but the steepest gradients.
This particular AX came into the possession of the vendor's family in March 2005, the accompanying sales receipt revealing that it was purchased from one Margaret Smallman. Also on file is an old-style continuation logbook (issued 1931) recording two previous owners: Frank Haden of Halesowen and Maurice Hudson of Dudley. Correspondence on file shows that Mr Hudson owned 'AB 1681' during the 1980s. Described as in generally good condition, the car is offered with the aforementioned documentation, some expired tax discs and MoT certificates, a quantity of old photographs, sundry invoices, SORN, VCC Dating Certificate, Swansea V5C and a photocopy of an original 1910 Renault instruction manual.