Renault Colorale Prairie (1955) – In het Wild

When it comes to SUVs, the French brands were not exactly quick. At least, it is when we consider the recent success of this body style. With a little imagination, however, you can also see this Renault Colorale from the 1950s as an SUV, although that term did not exist at the time.

Since the term ‘SUV’ itself is already quite vague and indefinable, the absolute beginning of this body style is difficult to determine. What we do know is when this body shape started to gain popularity. This was around the turn of the century and was first noticed in Japan and South Korea. In fact, Kia and Hyundai owe their success at the beginning of this century largely to cars like the Sorento, Sportage, Santa Fe and Tucson and have hitched a ride from the very beginning on the huge wave of SUVs that would engulf the automotive country.


In France, people were much less alert in this regard. Peugeot got off to a rocky start with the first 3008, a strange crossover-like vehicle that (although not unsuccessful) was found to be especially strange by the general public. Renault, the brand that is held jointly responsible for inventing the MPV, among other things, only came with its first SUV in 2006. The Koleos, which was developed in collaboration with the South Korean Samsung, turned out to be by no means a success.

Ahead of its time

And yet today we suddenly come face to face with a Renault from the 1950s that combines a high, station wagon-like carriage with a sturdy nose and plenty of ground clearance. If you did not know better, you would think that this car has walked away from the fantasy world of Ruben Ooms, who delighted us in the section ‘His Time Ahead’ with an alternative car history full of imaginary ancestors of modern models.


However, nothing could be further from the truth, because this Colorale is just as real as the rust that eats its body. Although the car of course at most coincidentally has some similarities with the modern SUV, those similarities are also there when we look at the goal that Renault had with this model. The name Colorale is said to be a combination of ‘Coloniale’ and ‘Rurale’. The large, robust Renault had to come into its own in the more remote areas, in the overseas (‘colonial’) and in the countryside (‘rural’). The second part of the name, ‘Prairie’, refers to the fact that this is a copy with back doors. The fact that the car is also reminiscent of Nissan’s midi-MPV avant-la-lettre is a bonus. The Colorale appeared in 1950 and disappeared again in 1957. It never became popular, as is often the case for models apparently born in the wrong era.


The Renault Colorale that shines here was spotted by our in-house photographer Willem Verstraten, who was amazed at its size. With a length of 4.27, width of almost two meters and height of 1.75, this Renault is indeed a big boy. The car could therefore accommodate no less than six people. In comparison, the drive is of a very modest nature: a two-liter four-cylinder with about 50 hp drives the rear axle. This Colorale Prairie is far from neat condition, but if a car has been able to last that long, there is a good chance that it will be spared from scrapping.

Source: AutoWeek by

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