‘La Poire’ – ‘the pear’. It’s hardly a glowing reference for a new car. Still, it could have been worse – Renault may have launched the Renualt 14 as ‘Le Citron’. Now that would have been wrong on so many levels.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Renault marketed the 14 as ‘La Poire’. But that they did and the truth is, the 5-door hatchback never really recovered from it. In fact, when the Renault 14 developed a reputation for rust, it was soon rechristened ‘The Rotten Pear’. Oh dear.
Nearly a million Renault 14s were built between 1976 and 1983, so it can’t have been all that bad. The strong sales were helped, in part, by a midlife facelift which helped ripen the pear’s styling, plus it was also used extensively by the French police. I seem to have vivid images of the black and white law enforcement Renault 14 in my head, although as I’ve never been in trouble with the French police, I suspect it’s either through a Majorette model from my youth, or some French B-movie.
My neighbour had one when I was growing up in Hampshire. It was green, so I probably should have named it the ‘apple and pear car’. I was always struck by how big the Renault 14 was, which seemed at odds with the styling, which gave it a cutesy, supermini look. The truth is though, the Renault 14 was actually a rival for the Volkswagen Golf. Well, that’s if you discount the likes of quality, reliability, longevity and legacy.
According to How Many Left?, there are just 25 left in Britain, of which 21 are still on the road, so the Renault 14 is actually doing better than many of its contemporaries. This is probably down to luck more than anything else – corrosion killed off many 14s. As did the occasional beating it would receive having failed to start on yet another cold and damp morning.
Today I rather fancy the 71bhp Renault 14TS, the ‘performance’ version of the range. Sadly, there appears to be just one left on the road and one listed as SORN. If you’re fortunate to own either one of these cars, step forward and allow PetrolBlog to salute you.
I’ll leave you with this TV ad which proves that Renault did indeed launch its ‘new concept car’ by comparing it to a fruit. To be fair to Renault and Publicis, you could easily see the idea sounding ok in a Parisian boardroom. But that’s as far as the idea should have got.
Also check out the huge dog on the back seat – quite clearly a prop to showcase the Renault 14’s generous space in the back. Blimey, the dog is so big, the children – no seat belts back then – were free to play hide and seek around him. Today it simply demonstrates how far we’ve progressed from a safety perspective.
Images © Wikipedia