The history of my 'Sahara metallic'
Let me tell you something about the history of my old Renault 18
The car started it's life on one of
Renault's assembly lines in probably February or early March of 1982. It was delivered on
March 12th 1982 to an old man, who drove just over 29.000 kilometres with it in five years
time, held it in a garage and, according to the papers, had it serviced twice a year
(that's about every 3,500 kilometres!!!). So after five years it was still as good as new.
He sold it because to him it held some very sad memories concerning his wife who got ill
just after he bought the car and had died recently.
My mom had sold our Renault 12 after my dad passed away in 1985. She bought this Renault
18 for family use after my older sister got her drivers licence in 1987. So for us buying
the car was an emotional step as well. I was seventeen at the time and from the first day
felt more or less responsible for it's maintenance.
After I got my drivers licence on Friday the 13th of January 1989 (so much for
superstition!), my sis and I both chauffeured ourselves and our family around in this car.
Because we all contributed to the costs, I had the luxury of having a (large and
comfortable) car at my disposal while being a student. Great!
Through the years the 18 became a bit of a treasured family piece and my sister and I even
went as far as declaring 'it' to be a 'she'. We also designated her colour as 'sahara
the car hardly ever let me down, she got several new parts, especially in the more recent
years. Most striking are a new radiator, a new gearbox lend from an other R18 (5 speed,
type NG1. Of the original one the synchro mesh of 2nd gear broke down (probably because
the car did an enormous amount of city traffic in the first half of her life) and two
years after my garage fixed it, the box started to jam every now and than), a new clutch,
two new coil springs for the back suspension (they both broke just above the bottom
winding), new shock absorbers (during a very cold period in 1997 the right front one got
stuck, due to very small frozen drops of water inside the absorber. The car looked like
she had contracted her landing gear and felt like a bumper car :-) ). (More in the Tips & Tricks section)
The body work of the car is still in good shape for a car of her age
in our climate. I have put considerable work in preserving her as best as possible.
Unfortunately she was not spared from a small disaster at her high age. On one dark day in
the summer of 1998 at a gas station in Leiden I was about to drive past a huge sand
truck. The (also huge)
driver of this truck forgot to check his right mirrors and set his monster in motion, just
as my left front wing was in front of it. His right wheel damaged the wing beyond repair,
bent the edge of the bonnet, scattered the front light and tore off the bumper, which
ended up one metre in front of my car.
Strange as it may seem, the enormous size of the truck probably spared my 18 from the
scrap yard. The only contact my car had had with truck was with it's enormous front tire,
which gives way a little. On the other hand no contact at all would have been even better!
The not so pretty result of this close encounter can be seen on the first picture in the
collage. It broke my heart to see my old Renault in this shape.
I bought a new wing and in a nice warm last week of September I sanded it and gave it a
paint job. The paint had to be custom made, to match the current colour. Renault did a
lousy job at selecting and mixing the original paint (R161). As a result the colour has
faded rather badly. To my surprise the man at the paint shop almost immediately recognised
it's colour number! The result of his mixing is an almost exact match
On the first cold day of October the wing was ready to be fitted. Two scarped R18s donated
a head light and a bumper. And while at it, I also decided to sand and repaint her
rims. So after some hard work (as well as some rigorous cursing every now and than)
my car was a presentable example of her species once more. Just a slight dent in the edge
of the bonnet and the slightly different colour of the wing remind of this tragic event.
the car is still in reasonable good shape. I used her daily up until April 1999. But
because I got a new job in The Hague in 1998 I had to travel a much longer distance to
work each day. The 3.000 kilometres I now drive each month through heavy traffic proved to
be a little too much for her. She started to develop some minor defects every now and than
(and occasionally a major one as well) and because of her age it usually takes up to a
week for parts to be delivered, meaning that in the mean time I had to go to work by
public transport. That is why I bought the new Renault Clio you see on the left of the
picture. Although it has a small 1.2 litre engine it's a pithy little one! It's very comfy
and smooth and as you can see it's also equipped with 'party lighting' in the bumper. And
yes, I determined it's sex and exact colour as well: It's a 'he' and he is 'grape purple'
In March 2000 my old
Renault got a "home" and recently she moved to a new place ("Chateau
Dixhuit"), which is large enough to start working on her restoration . Up until
February 2002 I used the old Renault (very decadently I might add :-) ) as a second car to
drive around on sunny Sunday's and holiday's. But as age is definitely catching up with
her, the great overhaul is about to begin.........
(My mom wisely remarked that little has changed since I played with
Matchbox cars in the sandbox.....)