Weird and wonderful No7 – Renault 4cv ‘Labourdette’

Another in our occasional series of interesting things that have popped up on the internet…

Regular readers will be familiar with Mario’s ‘brother’ Regie the Renault 4cv, so we are always interested when something about 4cv’s catch our eye on the internet. Like Fiats, there were many different derivatives of the 4cv with unusual bodies but the one we spotted today really stood out.

Yes this strange quirky looking car is based on a 4cv. The 4cv Labourdette Vutotal was unveiled by the French President at the Paris Salon in 1949 or 50 where its design and styling were considered progressive. The Labourdette’s were a french family involved in coachbuilding and then very early car design. The Grandson, was visionary body-builder Jean-Henri Labourdette born in 1888 and who became well known for his bold transformations of prestige vehicles such as Bugatti and Rolls Royce.

The company had developed a glued frameless windscreen and front door glass which eliminated the A-frame, this ‘Vutotal’ (total view) design was patented in 1935 and appeared in many prototypes but never in a production vehicle. After the war Labourdette didn’t really resume their coachbuilding business but Jean-Henri devoted his time to research and inventions. He eventually retired to Grasse, near Nice, which by coincidence is where we found Regie.

The 4cv Vutotal was a three seater convertible with the single backseat turned through 90º and the famous panoramic windows. The headlights were built in under glass. It proved too revolutionary and never went into production.

Two years later Labourdette went on to make a more conventional convertible version of the 4cv. Only two doors but the front end is the same as the production model and you can see the famous star wheels which were fitted on the early cars. This was two years before Renault produced their own factory built convertible which they only made under 500 of, in 1954. Regie is actually, an after market convertible, made post factory to order, similar to what Crayford Conversions did to many Fords in the 60s and 70’s.

The 4cv convertible on a postcard believed to be shot outside the Labourdette’s house in Paris.
The Labourdette 4cv Convertible on track in 1952, believed to be at the Grand Prix de La Baule.