Cohort Sighting: Renault 12 Hard At Work In Medellin, Colombia

Renault 12 Meddellin  Alexander Den Ouden

Alexander Den Ouden posted this shot at the CC Cohort that he took just last week in Medellin, Colombia. The Renault 12, although it was sold in the US as well as in may parts of the world, has so far not been covered here with a proper CC. How about a mini-CC?


The R12 was a very important car for Renault, as it marked its transition from its long line of rear-engined low-mid market cars (4CV, Dauphine, R8 & R10) to FWD. And unlike Renault’s previous FWD cars (R16, R 4) which had their engines mounted longitudinally behind the front wheels, the R12 now adopted the same format as popularized by Audi (and VW), with the engine mounted longitudinally ahead of the front wheel center line.

Renault R12

Since this is turning into a mini-CC, I’ll also use this shot posted a few years ago at the Cohort, by Kurtzos, if I remember correctly. The R 12 was assembled in no less twelve countries around the world, including Colombia, which likely is where this heavily-loaded green on originated.

Dacia 1988 1310 Borat

In Romania, the R12 was built by Dacia, and also called by that name. It was immortalized in the movie “Borat”, where it rolls off pulled by a horse.

Most R12s had more than one horsepower. The majority were powered by 1289 cc versions of the “Cleon” ohv four, which had been developed for the R8/10. The R12 Gordini used a version of the 1565 cc aluminum-block engine as used in the R16.

Renault 12 US ad sedan

The US-bound version of the R12 had a 1647 cc version of that all-alloy engine, including a hemi-head and rated at 72 hp. it suffered from the typical “French car in the US” syndrome, and did nothing to boost Renault’s fortunes, despite the 12 being a quite advanced car for the times.

renault 12 break-02

Somehow French cars seem to be practically immortal in Africa (and Colombia), yet highly fragile in the US. Were there two distinct versions? More likely two different levels of competency in fixing them.

It’s been a very long time since I saw one in the US. Has anyone else? If so, send us the pictures.