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Renault Crated or not

This discussion on "Renault Crated or not" is in the Billy Carter's Renault section; A good friend of mine is a member of The Horseless Carriage Club of America, ...

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    A good friend of mine is a member of The Horseless Carriage Club of America, a worldwide organization dedicated to pre-1916 "Brass era" vehicles. I've always been unsure as to whether or not Carter's Renault was crated. The Titanic's cargo manifest reads "W.E. Carter, 1 case auto" which indicates that the car was shipped as cargo, rather than baggage. The manifest also "suggests" that the vehicle was crated, i.e. 1 case auto. I asked my friend if he could clarify how vehicles were shipped by boat about this time. Here is his response:


    On the Renault limo, it was traditional for new cars to be shipped to
    dealers totally knocked down and crated. If this were a new vehicle, it
    surely would have been shipped this way. However, vehicles which had been
    in use were never to my knowledge disassembled and crated for shipment,
    either by rail or by ship. The typical means of preparation for shipment
    was to remove the wheels (since the wood spoke wheels could not take a lot
    of shock side loads and the early fabric reinforced tires were always a
    problem) and place the axles on supports on a wood platform. This also
    facilitated loading and unloading on a ship which was typically done using
    a crane and sling. The platforms had attachment points for the sling.
    Also, at this time longshoremen were not used to handling wheeled vehicles
    and only dealt with crates and palletized large items such as carriages,
    railway cars and the like.

    Thus, as I told you, the on-board scene in the movie was not likely correct
    since it appeared that the vehicle was sitting on it's wheels. However, it
    would have been theoretically possible to have entered the vehicle for the
    tryst as it was depicted. The movie scene was apparently done in the
    baggage rather than the cargo section of the ship. Passengers generally
    had access (though only with supervision) to the baggage areas, but almost
    never to the cargo areas which were generally sealed. Were a Renault
    crated, as a new vehicle would have been, it would be cargo. A clue here
    would be whether the Renault appeared on the baggage or cargo manifest,
    assuming that these were separate. Of course if it were a new Renault,
    then the dockside scenes in the movie would have been incorrect. Another
    scenario would be that the owners had a Renault limo in Europe and ordered
    an identical or similar car to be delivered in the US. In that case, it
    surely would have been crated for shipment. The fact that the Renault
    apparently delivered the passengers to the ship places the vehicle on the
    quay shortly before sailing suggests that this may well have been the case.
    It is unlikely, but possible, that the vehicle could have been prepared
    for shipment by palletizing it in time for loading after discharging its
    passengers on the quay since this could have been done in a few hours.
    However, it would have been totally impossible to knock down a vehicle so
    complex as a Renault limo and get it crated in time. This would have taken
    several days.

    Still another very likely scenario would be that the vehicle delivering
    passengers on the quay was provided by the local dealer, having sold them a
    similar vehicle for delivery in New York. That was often done by the very
    rich in that time period. Prior to the first World War, European
    automotive design, particularly in the area of large and expensive cars,
    was way ahead of the US. Thus it was fairly typical for the very rich to
    import limos and other prestigious vehicles and the European dealers often
    made demo units (always with chauffeurs) available to customers of these
    high priced machines while in Europe.

    While I have no idea if such information exists for Renault vehicles, we
    have historians in the US who have fairly good factory records for vehicles
    built in the early years, particularly for the expensive, low volume
    vehicles. It's definitely possible that these records exist for Renaults
    in that time period. That might shed some light on the subject if one were
    to really dig.

    Whichever of these options really occurred, the movie scriptwriters
    obviously took some liberties. The minimum would be that the vehicle was
    on a pallet, not it's wheels, in the baggage room. The maximum would be
    that it was a second new vehicle, knocked down and crated, in the cargo
    hold in which case the tryst scene would have been totally incorrect.

    My friend also knows the person who supplied the car to James Cameron for his movie, Titanic and is going to put me in contact with him. He may have picked up some tidbits in the process of doing the shooting. He (and an accomplice) drove the car in the movie scenes so he was there with the filming crew.

    Earl Chapman
    Montreal, Canada

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Hello Mr. Chapman,

    BTW...the gentleman who supplied the Reanult prop for Cameron's epic film..."TITANIC", hails from Sparks, NV, a quaint 30 mile by automobile from my hometown, Carson City, NV. As an aside, a female member of the special effect team is also orignally from Reno,
    NV...sotr of the parent city of Sparks...:-)

    There was a joke of old which went..."Reno is so close to H__L that you can see Sparks!".

    Michael Cundiff
    Carson City, NV

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    I was wondering whether it was crated too, because in the deck plans there is a space that says "baggage or motorcars"



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