Supporting the luxurious Nervastella, the Nervasport placed the emphasis on performance and notched up a string of endurance records.
The Nervasport racer was powered by Renault’s second 8-cylinder in-line unit, inspired by aviation engineering developments. With this engine, the “Nerva” series would achieve a most distinguished record, from the roads and racetracks or Europe to the tracks of Africa.
The road to consecration
The Nervasport finished 2nd in the 1932 Monte-Carlo Rally, just 2 tenths of a second behind the winner. But the Nervasport turned in its most spectacular performance at the speed ring in Montlhéry. In April 1934, a specially prepared Nervasport won several endurance records in all categories. It covered more than 8,000 km in 48 hours, an average of almost 170 kph with a top speed of close to 200 kph.
Consecration came in 1935 with victory in the Monte-Carlo Rally (and another Nervasport took 4th place). The 2 teams, from Norway and Estonia, had faced extremely harsh winter conditions, with icy roads and temperatures down to -20°C.
Exploit followed upon exploit, as the Nervasport won the 1935 Liège-Rome-Liège race (4,500 km in a single leg) and took 2nd place in the Morocco Rally, behind Bugatti.
The Nervasport was fitted with an 8-cylinder engine. The highly dynamic single-seater body was designed by Marcel Riffard, a man whose name is associated with the history of both Renault vehicles and aircraft. This splendid performance made the name of the Nervasport and would influence the design of future Renault vehicles.
In 1935 Renault’s flagship Nervasport model was upgraded with a 110 bhp engine and known as the ACN1. It replaced the outgoing ZC4 which had features such as a automatic choke, automatic starter controlled by the accelerator and factory-made, aerodynamic bodies.
The ACN1 was distinguished by its 85 x 120 engine which was capable of 110 bhp. As few as 12 of these cars were built per year. Only two cars with the ACN1 engine have been accounted for.
The car shown is a rare roadster (folding windscreen and two seats in the spider) Nervasport 1935 ACN type 1 (only one other car exists in a French collection), with a moderately streamlined factory body in existence since 1934 (the “hyper-streamlined” are known as Grand Sport). The car was bought on 6 February 1962 by the current owner’s father from a certain Mr Yvart for the sum of NF 250. It was registered at the time under “5271 EH 76” (Seine Maritime). The documentation and purchase invoices were included in the car’s dossier. The car was used regularly over the past 50 years for family travel to go to the seaside on the Normandy coast. In the early 1990s, this roadster benefited from a thorough, top-level restoration undertaken by the Le Calvez body workshop in Dieppe, and painted light grey with darker grey leather upholstery, grey carpeting and a black roof. The invoices for that period still exist. This exceptional piece is accompanied by various administrative documents (registration document dated 5 August 1998) and various invoices, maintenance invoices for various jobs dating from before the 1960s, a record of correspondence with the Club des Anciennes Renault (club of old model Renault aficionados) and important documentation (various manuals) on the eight-cylinder engine of the brand.