On the website clunkbucket.com, Mike Bumbeck wrote a text about this R16 1971. Weird story.
From the Sahara Desert Expedition desk comes this 1971 Renault R16. Owner Ken Nelson’s latest excursion was to the Concours d’Lemons event. Ken reports he’s already loading the machine for its next outing – this time to the desert. The R16 is indeed a rugged automobile and features and impressive amount of cargo space for journeying from its current home base in Palo Alto, California. The 1600cc mid-ships mounted engine drives the front wheels, which are also equipped with power disc brakes. Ken reports 35 mpg fuel economy and a healthy top speed of 90 mph, although not simultaneously. When Ken isn’t driving the R16 he spends his time restoring various orphans of the automotive world. With a garage full of Jowett Jupiters and a Traction Avant converted by the Vietnamese after they kicked the French out into cut-down sedan undergoing the rustification process in the driveway, Ken relies on the durable R16 for practical and stylish transportation. “It’s my work truck”, said Ken.
The green R16 started it’s North American life on the Monterey Peninsula, and sat after use for a period of five years before its owner bestowed the beauty onto a local serviceman. The assignment in Vandenburg shifted to Greenland, and the mysterious serviceman placed the mighty R16 on eBay for the lucky winner. Ken won out over the other bidders for the car, taking delivery of the R16 for the princely sum of $127.50, American. After a going over of the mechanicals, Ken has since logged over 15,000 mostly trouble free miles. Excluding gasoline, oil, new tires, and insurance, Ken calculates the operating cost of the R16 at a thrifty 85-cents a mile. The extra-superb suspension relies on torsion bars, the setup of which gives the R16 a slightly different wheelbase on right and left sides. Whether this uneven suspension design precluded later asymmetrical French exterior styling adventures such as the Renault Avantime is unknown.
Mike Bumbeck, august 2009