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August 20th, 2016

When the French carmaker set out to introduce its latest car – the Renault Dauphine in the United States during the 50s, the company went all guns blazing to make sure that the Renault brand name stuck to the ears of Americans like a bear to honey. For this, Renault decided to take the show to the country’s heart of speed – the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The French carmaker brought with itself a turbine-powered car called the Renault Etoile Filante, which meant shooting star in French.

The Renault Etoile Filante was an experimental prototype that was built based on a tubular structure. Underneath its light polyester body was a turbine engine, similar to the ones that are found on helicopters. On September 5, 1956, Renault rolled their experimental car on to the salt flats, where the Etoile Filante clocked a top speed of 308.9kmph (191.9mph) and established four new world records, out of which one stands unchallenged even today.

Renault Etoile Filante at Bonneville Salt Flats

Renault Etoile Filante, Bonneville 1956

Renault Etoile Filante Front

The record setting attempt in 1956 included reaching 191.9mph (308.9kmph) over a distance of 1km (0.6miles) and also carrying the same speed to cover 5km (3.1 miles). While the first record was broken, the second one still stands as it did when it was made 70-years ago.

To celebrate their unbeaten record, this year Renault return to the Bonneville Salt Flats with both the cars and set yet another land speed record, yet a very interesting one. Since the Dauphine now classifies as a classic, it ran in the “CGC” group category that has classic cars with engine capacity between 754cc and 1,015cc. Since the Dauphine has a 956cc engine, it fit right in. The French brand alongside FIA Formula E driver Nicolas Pros set a new class record of 123.1kmph (76.5 mph), not bad considering a 70-year-old hardware that is powered by a minuscule 1-litre engine.

Renault Dauphine and Etoile Filante At Bonneville 2016

Renault returns to Bonneville in 2016 with the Dauphine (left) and the Etoile Filante (right)

Image credits: BERNARD CANONNE / Renault

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