Renault Le Car Van by Heuliez


Everyone hates an ear worm. You'll be sitting around, enjoying breakfast, when all of a sudden the first few lines of "Kiss from a Rose" jump into your head.

It could be minutes, hours, or days before Seal's sultry voice fades away…

Fact: The Renault Le Car Van by Heuliez is my automotive ear worm. Ever since hearing about it I've been trying to forget it.

It's not that bad looking, actually. No, really, it's not. At least they tried something. Use design as a litmus test and even the Le Car Van stands above things like the Kia Sephia, Suzuki XL7, and Chevrolet Optra.

Besides, it's not like you'll see one on the way to work, right? So read this and be glad (or sad!) that the Le Car Van never became popular.


How did this cute little rip-off of the American Vannin' scene come to be? Did they do intense market research? Absolutely not. They did what any product planner in France in the late 70s would do.

They got the idea from a men's magazine.

That's right: Liu (French for "him") proposed a small, stylish vehicle that was perfect for bachelors on the move. It'd have a plush interior, custom details, and would allow a young man sufficient shelter if he needed to sleep or sleep with somebody.

Heuliez, a French company that specialized in small and limited-run production vehicles, was called in to produce the modified Le Car models. 450 in total were ordered—and sold—through the official Renault dealer network.

That's right: A Renault Le Car Van in Lufthansa livery.

That's right: A Renault Le Car Van in Lufthansa livery.

Besides selling to bachelors, Heuliez and Renault offered an actual van version, not unlike what Mini tried to do with the recent "Clubvan."

Engines, suspension, and trim details were all pretty much the same as you'd find in a normal Le Car. And I think that's fine, though if anyone builds a mid-engined Turbo Le Car Van…well…that'd be capital-A-awesome. (So long as the bubble windows stay.)

Strangely enough, the Le Car Van is not even the first collaboration between an automaker and a men's magazine. It's not even the first hatchback to have a spare tire mounted on the back. 

But that's a story for another day.

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