1907 Renault Type AI 35/45HP Vanderbilt Racer
Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 5, 2020
The Renault AI was one of the company’s large luxury cars and was offered between 1905 and 1910. They were powered by large 7.5-liter inline-fours that made about 65 horsepower. The fact that this big power rating came from one of France’s more storied early competition car-builders is probably why this car exists.
Willie K. Vanderbilt, yes, of that family, was a gearhead who started competing in races in the US and Europe about as early as you could. Around 1906, he asked Renault to build him a run of race cars based on their AI engine. He bought 10 of them for $150,000 and all had different coachwork. He sold most of them and kept one for himself.
The cars were successful racing in America, and this is one of five Vanderbilt racers that have survived. It was discovered in 1946 and went to the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum in 1957. Most of the other survivors are locked away in collections. Bonhams won’t even give an estimate on this car, but it’s a pretty incredible, useable survivor. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Update: Sold $3,332,500.