THE idea of Renaults and Peugeots being produced in the same factory is like pairing up Ford and Holden production, but it did happen right here in Australia. It came about because of Australian government policies aimed at growing the local car manufacturing industry.
Continental & General assembled a range of vehicles including Peugeot, Citroen, NSU and Studebaker in the Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg West.
In 1964, it was purchased by Renault and stopped producing everything else, except for Peugeot models; they continued to be built alongside Renaults in what was, as far as we know, the only place the two brands got into bed together.
Renault increased the number of locally sourced parts it used, in line with local content policy, reaching its peak with the Renault 12, the best known and most popular model the brand has sold in Australia.
It was launched in Europe with a 1289cc four-cylinder engine, but those local content regulations (itís complicated) meant the capacity was dropped to 1251cc.
The Renault 12 won our 1970 Car of the Year award and was selling strongly, but controversy over French nuclear testing in the Pacific Islands in 1973 hurt the brand; sales dropped and unions even refused to unload ships with Renault parts.
Renault devoted some production space to building the Cortina wagon for Ford, but the operation was ultimately not viable and the French pulled up stumps in 1981.
Looked good, had great seats and was economical
Renault was owned by the French government.