Motor City

26 July 2014

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Lot 128

1925 Renault Model 45 Tourer

  • Chassis no. 139416
  • Engine no. C914NF254

Sold for $264,000

140 bhp, 9,122 cc L-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid axle suspension with semi-elliptic and cantilever leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 147.63 in.

  • One of the rarest CCCA Full Classics
  • Formerly owned by Pacific Auto Rentals and the Nethercutt Collection
  • A genuine example with original open bodywork
  • Abundant power and four-wheel brakes; the ultimate Nickel Era tour car

French automaker Renault, formed in 1898, was always a few steps ahead of its competitors. It was one of the first marques to begin racing, and its early prestige enabled it to build a fine reputation both in Europe and abroad. The cars were instantly recognized for their “coal scuttle” hoods, which was a design necessitated by the radiator being mounted behind the engine, rather than in front of it, and the first three decades at Renault were filled with new models and new innovations. Most of the cars that the company produced were small, low-horsepower automobiles that were ideal for thrifty buyers and narrow European streets. Yet, for the customer who sought something different, and had the vast bank account to back up their wishes, they also had the Model 45, which the factory almost charmingly referred to as, simply, the “Big Six.”

Big, it was. The Model 45 was the largest production automobile built until the introduction of Ettore Bugatti’s fabled Type 41 La Royale. Its nine-liter, six-cylinder engine churned out 140 horsepower, on a chassis that measured nearly 150 inches between axles. With relatively lightweight open bodywork fitted, a Model 45 could achieve nearly 100 mph. With their typical attention to engineering, Renault put extensive attention into making the massive automobile not only swift but also easy to drive, and four-wheel servo-assisted brakes were added to bring the big machine easily to a stop.

Even though very few were produced, due to the car’s great cost and custom-built nature, it is a testament to the model’s glory that its visage has become synonymous with Francophile culture of the 1920s. In many ways, the Model 45 embodied its country in the same way that the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost embodied England: it was audacious, quirky, brilliant, and French to its very core.

The car offered here carries its original, open, four-passenger tourer coachwork. Its design bears a strong similarity to other bodies produced for Model 45 chassis by Parisian coachbuilder Manessius, but the builder’s identity has never been conclusively confirmed. What is known is that the car appeared in New Jersey post-war, where it was owned by Robert Morgan, of Wyckoff, and then it made its way to England.

The big Renault was acquired by the renowned Nethercutt Collection in January 1984, and the car immediately became the subject of a comprehensive, cost-no-object restoration by the Nethercutt family’s famed shops. Afterwards, it was driven by J.B. Nethercutt on several tours, where its power and speed were much appreciated. It remained part of the Nethercutt Collection until 2010, when the consignor was fortunate enough to become its next owner and caretaker.

Typical of Renaults of this era, the Model 45’s well-preserved Nethercutt restoration is filled with spectacular fine detail, including wooden artillery wheels with robust center-locking hubs that have been shod in purposeful blackwall tires; correct Phare Besnard headlamps and Marchal tail lamps; and spectacular, warm interior woodwork, including commodious jump seats hidden behind roll-top doors! The pure ivory livery, set against complementing shades of biscuit tan, is light, subtle, and exaggerates the Renault’s immense appearance of power.

With fewer than six survivors known, and the majority of which housed in museums, the opportunity to acquire a Model 45 does not come about often. In fact, it is one of the scarcest and hardest to acquire of all Classic Car Club of America Full Classics. This example, blessed by the ownership of knowledgeable connoisseur J.B. Nethercutt, is truly exceptional. For the man who never likes to see himself coming while on a CARavan, there is simply no better choice than this muscular Gallic fantasy.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more