Louis Renault built his first prototype in 1898. It had a 1.75 hp 273cc air-cooled De Dion-Bouton engine. Renault fitted it with a 3-speed gearbox that featured a patented direct top gear. The small company Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand had established produced 60 cars in the first 6 months. Renault started manufacturing their own engines in 1902. Until about 1920 Renault concentrated on large, luxury cars. Smaller models appeared in 1923 to compete with Citroen. Renault was nationalised after the war. Post-war production started with an upgraded version of the Juvaquatre and the brand new 4CV, that had been developed in secret during the war. Over a million were made before production ceased in 1961.


Simca. Nanterre, Seine, France 1935-1961; Poissy, Seine-et-Oise 1954-1970; Chrysler France 1970 – 1978. In 1978 Chrysler Simca was taken over by PSA concern (Stellantis as of 2020).

In 1979 the Simca name was exchanged for ‘Talbot’.

Facel Vega

Facel S.A. Pont a Mousson, France. 1954-1964

Ford France

Ford S.A.F. 1947-1954

Production of Fords in France began in 1934 at the Matford works, which was itself a continuation of the pioneer car manufacturer Mathis. The company was acquired by Simca in November 1954 and production of the Ford Versailles models was continued under the name of Simca Vedette.


Matra Sports was established in 1965 when Matra (aerospace company) took over the René Bonnet company (Matra built the fibre-glass bodies for Bonnet). This car was known as the Matra Djet. In 1969 Matra was taken over by Simca.

After parting company with Simca (new Chrysler) Matra independently entered into an agreement with Renault to build the Renault Espace and much later, the Avantime.