The Renault corporation was founded in 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault along with his brothers Marcel and Fernand. Louis was a young engineer who had already designed and built several prototypes before teaming up with his brothers, who had honed their business skills working for their father’s textile firm. While Louis handled design and production, Marcel and Fernand managed the business.
The first Renault car, the Renault Voiturette 1CV, was sold to a friend of Louis’ father after giving him a test ride in 1898. These ads show the evolution of the car from the voiturette to the more streamlined, mass produced model in 1939, when the company was surpassed by Citroën as the largest car manufacturer in France. Citroën models at the time were more innovative. In any case, in 1940 France capitulated to the Nazis but Louis Renault refused to produce tanks for Nazi Germany, which took control of his factories. He produced trucks and was heavily bombed by the allies.