Renault Cléon-Fonte engine

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Not to be confused with Renault Cléon-Alu engine.
Cléon-Fonte engine
Manufacturer Renault
Also called Sierra engine, C-Type engine
Production 1962–2004
Combustion chamber
Configuration inline-four
Predecessor Ventoux engine
Successor Energy engine
D-Type engine

The Cléon-Fonte engine, also known as the Sierra engine or under the code "C-engine" or "C-Type", is a family of four-cylinder, in line automobile engine manufactured continuously by Renault and its subsidiary Dacia from 1962 to 2004. For more than four decades it became a mainstay in Renault's compact models, before being gradually replaced by the E-type engine from the late 1980s onward.

The C-type is overhead valve, water-cooled design, with a 5-bearing crankshaft, a chain driven, side positioned camshaft operating the valves via pushrods and rockers, and an aluminum cylinder head.


Production started in 1962, this (then) modern engine was initially called the "Sierra", was soon renamed "Cléon-Fonte", taking its name from the ultra-modern Renault factory where it was first manufactured. This four-cylinder provided power for generations of Renaults over the years, with capacities ranging between 956 cc and 1565 cc. Cars fitted with the engine range from the Floride/Caravelle through the first generation Twingo of 1993, thirty years after this power unit was presented to the press at Geneva.

Technical adaptations have enabled the production of this engine in many displacements in single and dual carburettor forms, later with fuel injection, with or without turbo. The "Cléon-Fonte" was coupled initially to four-speed manual transmissions, and then later five speed and automatic gearboxes according to its applications and the natural progress of the automotive industry.

It was fitted in one form or another to an impressive list of Renault models, as rear-, mid- or front engined (longitudinally or transversely), including: Floride/Caravelle, Alpine A110, R4, R5 (Le Car in the USA), R6, R7 (Siete), R8/R10, R9/R11 (Alliance/Encore in USA), R12, R15, R18, R19, R21 (Export), Estafette, Traffic 1, Express (Rapid / Extra), Fuego, Twingo, Clio 1, not to mention the Renault R12 based Dacia 1300/1310 range produced from 1969 to 2004. On Monday 29 November 2004, Dacia produced the last C-engine, which was a 1.6 litre, fuel injected, producing 68 horse power and with the serial number 2527155. The C-engine stopped production four months after that of the Dacia 1310. Dacia continues to manufacture the components of the "Cléon-Fonte" engine for the purposes of service in Romania and abroad. In total, more than 27 million units of the "Cléon-Fonte" were produced by Renault and Dacia since its launch, 15 million of which in France. This engine was also assembled in Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Colombia and Argentina.

In France this engine ended its career in December 1996 in the Twingo and Clio with C3G 1239 cc, and Supercinq "Bye Bye" with C3J 1390 cc and at the same time marking the end of Renault 5 production. This engine can be found at the heart of thousands of classic Renaults, lovingly preserved. In all, this engine has had a long career for nearly half a century.

Not less than 27,277,306 engines were manufactured in 42 years, a record in Europe (some American V8 have far exceeded this number). Backing this record, the strength of the Renault engine has enabled it to power many very different cars, mounted in every position imaginable: rear mounted rear drive, front mounted rear drive, longitudinal or transverse front wheel drive engine and was used by Volvo in their Daf 55/66 and Volvo 340.

In the late 1950s when Renault engineering, led by Fernand Picard engineer, decided to develop for the future Renault 8 model a modern version of the "Ventoux engine" of the Dauphine, The René Vuaillat engineer develops a small 4-cylinder engine which would evolve from 956cc to 1108cc. A cast iron block, topped with an aluminum cylinder head, this engine was characterized by its camshaft placed high in the block with short pushrods, and unusually for the time, five crankshaft bearings. From the first test, it showed more torque and especially more power than the 850cc Ventoux, whose design dates back to 1944. It was baptized "Sierra", because at that time, the Board, named engines not by letter, but by name. It was later it took the name "Cléon", where it was made, attaching to the "Fonte" to distinguish it from the aluminum block Renault 16 Cléon-Alu engine, and finally "C engine."

The engine made its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in the new 1962 Renault Floride S replacing the 850cc 40 hp Dauphine Gordini. The 956cc capacity, which delivered a dozen additional horsepower, (51 hp SAE),a few months later was seen in the new R8 sedan. For racing and motorsport versions, Amédée Gordini was responsible for designing a hemispherical combustion chambered head allowing 85-90 hp for a 1000cc version as opposed to 70 hp for the previous 700cc Gordini engine. Gordini revealed some weaknesses in the rigidity of the block, leading some to blow head gaskets that prompted Renault to stiffen the block slightly.

1963 saw an 1108cc version of the engine introduced and was fitted to the latest version of Renault Floride/Caravelle, a car whose timid performance was greatly improved. Its bore was increased to 70 mm bore giving greater torque and power.

In the late 1960s, it was the engine of any small Renault. Installed in both the R8 and R10 sedans of the time, it was also produced in Valladolid, Spain. At the end of 1966, to power the new R8 Gordini 1300, it received a new block with a specific lateral offset crankshaft, this time 1255cc in capacity, 88 hp DIN.

At the close of 1969, Renault launched its front-wheel drive R12. Now known as the "C-Engine", the "Cléon-Fonte" was installed, this time ahead of the driver. Reworked to a capacity of 1289cc and 54 bhp and a uniform spacing between the cylinders. Despite the engine's flexibility, it was not powerful enough to power the sporty versions of the R12 and Alpine Berlinetta. In this 1289cc capacity, the engine was installed in the R12 and R15 TL. Mated to a new front drive transaxle, the 956cc version of C-engine was now found under the hood of the R6, and later in the R5 .

It is now the small saloon car that was to represent Renault at the races. To do this, Renault began, in fact, with work similar to that Gordini had done 10 years earlier, but at a much lower cost. Pushed to 1397cc , the "Cléon-Fonte", now with a new hemispherical head, the 93 hp 1976 R5 Alpine/Gordini, increasing to 110 bhp in 1981 for the R5 Alpine/Gordini Turbo.

Meanwhile, the R4 GTL had received the 1108cc version, the basic car that retained its ancient "Billancourt" 850cc engine, but in 1986 the R4 was entirely C-engine powered, the basic model receiving the 956cc unit. The new R18, which succeeded the R12, received the 1397cc version of this engine, with a standard cylinder head, and several options on power specifications. It is in this capacity, but now in a transverse position, this unit found its way under the hood of the R9, (car of the year 1982) and its sister R11, then under the Super 5 in 1985.

Renault chose to use the turbocharged 1.4 litre Cléon engine in several cars of the early 1980s. The pushrod Cléon engine was chosen for its sturdiness and low cost. For cost concerns it was fitted with a Solex carburetor, albeit a special unit made from magnesium in order to withstand the high heat from the turbocharger.[2]

End of 1980, thanks to a big turbo, the impressive 160 hp the spectacular R5 Turbo was launched. Mounted in mid-engine position for the first time, this 1397cc unit was coupled to the transmission of the R30 TX and drove the rear wheels. The R5 Turbo engaged in group B rallying and gradually saw its power rise from 200 to 300 hp peaking at 360 in (1527cc form) in 1985, before brushing the 400 (exactly 385) in 1987 on the tour versions of the championship Blockbuster, a mechanism that benefited from the 1500 turbo technology in F1, including the injection of water into the intake.

After the arrival of Renaults R19 and Clio in the early 1990s, this engine (which was not so ill-suited to emission standards and catalytic converters) lived its last days alongside its replacement, the "Energy" engine. Renault was about to stop production of this engine when the Twingo required a compact unit, marking its return to manufacture, this time bored out to 1239cc. Many journalists panned the Twingo for using this engine. The Energy and Clio R19 engine, by its design with its overhead cam, hemispherical cylinder head and exhaust ports at the front of the head, could not go under the hood of the little Twingo. However in late 1996, the new D7F engine 1149cc, which was more modern, replaced the long serving Cléon engine in the base model Clio and the Twingo. The Cléon-Fonte continue to be manufactured by Dacia until the end of 2004 in R12 derived saloons. The Cléon-Fonte engine evolved the "Energy" engine, first seen in the Renault 19. The block is the same, but it adopted an overhead camshaft driven by a toothed timing belt. The 1390 cm ³ Energy and 1390 cm ³ Cléon-fonte have the same stroke and the same bore.

Sports Applications[edit]

Common cylinder capacities[edit]

engine types 689 - C1C 688 - C1E C1G C3G 812 810 - C1H C3J 840 - 847 - C1J -C2J - C3J - C6J
cylinder capacity 956 cc 1108 cc 1237 cc 1239 cc 1255 cc 1289 cc 1390 cc 1397 cc
bore (mm) 65 70 71,5 74 74,5 73 75,8 76
stroke (mm) 72 72 77 72 72 77 77 77

Unusual and competition capacities[3][edit]

engine types cylinder capacity bore (mm) stroke (mm) remark
813 852 cc 61,4 72 Spain (Fasa-Renault) R4 F4 (1972-1976)
M1000 1022 cc 65 77 Argentina
850 1037 cc 67,7 72 Spain (Fasa-Renault) R7
M1100 1118 cc 68 77 Argentina
1185 cc 70 77 Dacia
1250 cc 71,9 77 Australia (R12)
1296 cc 75,7 72 Alpine A110 & préparation R8 Gordini
1341 cc 71,5 83,5 Ford Brazil
1372 cc 75,3 77 Ford Brazil
C7K 1430 cc 76 79 Préparation R5 Turbo 2
1434 cc 77 77 Préparation 1440 - R12 & Alpine
1527 cc 77 82 R5 Maxi-Turbo
1555 cc 77 83,5 Ford Brazil
1557 cc 77 83,6 Dacia
C1L - C2L - C3L 1565 cc 77 84 Spain (R19) & Argentina
1578 cc 76 87 Dacia

Other manufacturers[edit]

The Cléon-Fonte engine was also used by Volvo, DAF, Ford and Volkswagen Brazil


The C1C (original name "689") displaces 1.0 L (956 cc):



The C1E (original name "688") displaces 1.1 L (1,108 cc or 67.6 cu in).



The C1G, C2G and C3G displace 1.3 L (1,237 or 1,239 cc or 75.5 or 75.6 cu in) and produces 55 PS (40 kW) at 5,300 rpm, and 90 N·m (66 lb·ft) at 2,800 rpm with single-point fuel injection in the Twingo. It was produced through July 1996.



There was also the 810-type engine, with 1,289 cc from a 73 x 77 mm bore and stroke. It was taken out of production before alphanumeric codes were introduced. Power ranged from 32-47 kW.


This engine was also used in the R10


The C1J, C2J, and C3J displaces 1.4 L (1,397 cc or 85.3 cu in) from a 76 mm (3.0") bore and a 77 mm (3.03") stroke.



An Argentinian-developed engine, this was only available in Argentina, Colombia and Turkey. It is derived from the CxJ and shares the dimensions with Renault's A-series engine (1,565 cc or 95.5 cu in). The major improvement was in the available torque (12.5 kg/m at 3,000 rpm).


  1. ^ Moteur Cléon-Fonte: son histoire sur
  2. ^ Setright, L. J. K. (September 1984). Cropley, Steve, ed. "The graduate". Car (London, UK: FF Publishing): 97. 
  3. ^ "El Motor "Cléon-Fonte" y sus variantes", Club Renault 12 Espagne
  4. ^ Özenen, Hakan, ed. (December 1996). "Türk pazarındaki otomobillerin teknik verileri" [Technical data for Turkish market automobiles]. Auto Capital (in Turkish) (Istanbul, Turkey: Hürgüç Gazetecilik A.Ş.) (1): 113.