1912 RENAULT TYPE AG-1 TAXI DE LA MARNE
Registration No. Not Registered.
Car No. AG 26078
Engine No. 5972
Red with black mudguards and chassis.
Engine: 2-cylinder monobloc, 1.2 litres, L-head; Gearbox: 3-speed and reverse; Suspension: semi-elliptic front and rear; Brakes: rear wheels and transmission. Left-hand drive with central gear and brake levers.
This Renault model drove its way into history on the 7th of September 1914 when the military governor of Paris, General Joseph Galliéni, commandeered 1000 of the capital's taxi-cabs, packed them with reservists and sent them north east to bolster the 6th Army's defence of the city. The German advance was checked and the sight of troops being rushed to the front by this novel method captured the public imagination. The story of the Taxis de la Marne became an instant and enduring footnote in military history.
The majority of these taxis were the Renault Model AG-1 that had been introduced into the market by Louis Renault for 1908, thousands being made over a seven year period until the Great War brought about a change from car to armaments production at the Billancourt works. The AG-1 had a compact two-cylinder engine of 80 x 120 mm bore and stroke, cone clutch, conventional gearbox, and, as with every Renault since the first of 1898, shaft-drive to a bevel rear axle. The chassis was of pressed steel to which was fitted the bench-seated open-drive landaulette body.
This Renault Taxi de la Marne is a particularly interesting example, being a variant known as the 'G3' which was specifically made from 1911 for the Compagnie Générale des Voitures, one of the three leading taxi-cab operators in Paris. It may be noted that the hubcaps carry the intertwined CG logo of this Company. They required, and received, a left-hand drive version of the AG-1, which necessitated central gearchange and brake levers. All Renaults up to this date had been right-hand drive and this continued to be their normal practice well into the 1920's.
Mechanically the vehicle appears to be sound although it has not been run for a number of years. The bodywork requires some attention, one rear mudguard is damaged, the folding landaulette section has been fixed in position and the taxi meter is not working, but the enclosed interior trim is in good order and could well be original. The sash windows have bevelled glass in varnished wood frames, and silk roller-blinds can cover these for the privacy of the passengers.
With prompt action this distinctive Renault could be operational in time to join in the events of 1998 that will celebrate Renault's centenary.