Voiturette is a word mostly used to describe a miniature automobile; however, it has several nuanced meanings, depending largely on the usage date.


The term was first used by Léon Bollée
Léon Bollée
Léon Bollée was a French automobile manufacturer and inventor.-Life:Bollée's family were well known bellfounders and his father, Amédée Bollée , was the major pioneer in the automobile industry who produced several steam cars...

 in 1895 to describe his new motor tricycle and in the early years of the motor industry was used by many makers to describe their small cars. The word comes from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word for "automobile", voiture.
Between World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the term was also applied to light-weight racing cars with engines limited to 1500 cc such as the Alfa Romeo 158/159 Alfetta
Alfa Romeo 158/159 Alfetta
The Alfa Romeo 158/159, also known as the Alfetta , is one of the most successful racing cars ever produced. The 158 and its derivative, the 159, took 47 wins from 54 Grands Prix entered. It was originally developed for the pre-World War II voiturette formula and has a 1.5 litre straight-8...

, the Bugatti Type 13
Bugatti Type 13
The Type 13 was the first real Bugatti car. Production of the Type 13 and later Types 15, 17, 22, and 23, began with the company's founding in 1910 and lasted through 1920 with 435 examples produced. Most road cars used an 8-valve engine, though five Type 13 racers had 16-valve heads, one of the...

 and the original ERAs
English Racing Automobiles
English Racing Automobiles was a British racing car manufacturer active from 1933 to 1954. Currently the ERA trademark is owned by a British kit-car manufacturer.-Prewar history:...


In France, in the years after World War II it came to refer to a type of small three-wheeled vehicle.

In the 1990s the word was revived for a French vehicle weighing less than 350 kilograms (770 lb) empty and carrying a load (i.e., passengers) of not more than 200 kilograms (~440 lb). The top speed is limited to 45 km/h (~30 mph) and engine size to 50 cc or 4 kilowatts for an engine of "another type" for example an electric car. Such vehicles are sometimes also called "motor quadricycles" or "motor tricycles". The driver's license
Driver's license
A driver's license/licence , or driving licence is an official document which states that a person may operate a motorized vehicle, such as a motorcycle, car, truck or a bus, on a public roadway. Most U.S...

 for them are available to people over 16 years and are in category "B1" and are valid, subject to restrictions, in all European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...


Renault's 1898 Voiturette

French maker Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

's first car was simply called Voiturette
Renault Voiturette
The Renault Voiturette was Renault's first ever produced automobile, and was manufactured between 1898 and 1903. The name was used for five models....

, instead of the common usage then (it would have been called Renault 1¾ CV). The 1900 model (Voiturette C) was considered the first ever sedan (a car with roof) and it is largely seen as a predecessor for today's Clio
Renault Clio
The Renault Clio is a supermini car produced by the French automobile manufacturer Renault. Originally launched in 1990, it is currently in its third generation...

 or the smaller Twingo
Renault Twingo
The Renault Twingo is a city car built by French automaker Renault, first presented at the Paris Motor Show in September 1992 and sold in continental European markets beginning in 1993...


Other automobiles so described

  • Dalifol
    The Dalifol was a French automobile manufactured only in 1896. It was a horizontal-engined gas-driven car built by a firm best known for producing steam motorcycles....

    , manufactured in 1896 in France
  • Dalifol & Thomas
    Dalifol & Thomas
    The Dalifoil & Thomas was a French automobile manufactured from 1896 until 1898. A voiturette built in the Dulac factory in Montreuil-sous-Bois, it was powered by two separate De Dion engines. In 1899 the company introduced a motor tricycle with a "Dust proof" two-speed constant-mesh gearbox....

    , manufactured from 1896 until 1898 in France
  • Esculapeus
    The Esculapeus was a British automobile manufactured for one year only, 1902. A "chainless" voiturette, it had a five horsepower twin engine. Befitting its name, the car was designed for doctors, and came complete with a locker for their bags, as well as full weather protection.-References:David...

    , manufactured in 1902 in England
  • Damaizin & Pujos
    Damaizin & Pujos
    The Damaizin & Pujos was a French automobile manufactured only in 1910. The company built chassis with a patented constant-mesh gear change, and may also have been known as "Dux"....

    , manufactured in 1910 in France
  • David & Bourgeois
    David & Bourgeois
    The David & Bourgeois was a French automobile manufactured only in 1898. A tiller-steered saloon, it featured a "square-four" engine developed by Paul Gautier....

    , manufactured in 1898 in France
  • Denis de Boisse
    Denis de Boisse
    The Denis de Boisse was a French automobile manufactured from 1901 until 1904. Its final product was a 12cv twin-cylinder light car with a patented double back axle....

    , manufactured from 1901 until 1904 in France
  • De Riancey
    De Riancey
    The De Riancey was a French automobile manufactured from 1898 until around 1901. A front-wheel-drive voiturette, it used an air-cooled flat-twin engine.- References :*David Burgess Wise, The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Automobile...

    , manufactured from 1898 until around 1901 in France
  • Guerraz
    The Guerraz was a French automobile manufactured only in 1901. A voiturette, it featured C-spring rear suspension and a 1357 cc Bolide engine....

    , manufactured in 1901 in France
  • Guerry et Bourguignon
    Guerry et Bourguignon
    The Guerry et Bourguignon was a French automobile built only in 1907 by a cycle company from Paris. It was described as a "tri-voiturette"....

    , built in 1907 in France

  • Microcar
    A microcar is the smallest automobile classification usually applied to standard small car . Such small cars were generally referred to as cyclecars until the 1940s. More recent models are also called bubblecars due to their egg-shaped appearance.-Definition:The definition of a microcar has varied...

External links

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