ENGLISH – A short history of car style – The “bubble tailgate” : Robert Opron or… Gaston Juchet ?

We will talk about a fragment of the history of Renault style and focus on what has made the glory of two Renault models: the glass bubble-shaped tailgate of the Renault Fuego and the Renault 25.

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The first (below) appeared in March 1980 at the Geneva Motor Show, while the second was one of the three major events of the extraordinary year 1984 for Renault, which presented the R25, the Supercinq and the Espace !

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At the time, the Renault style centre did not have as many stylists as it does today and some “stylists” had their own particularities. Or rather, their aesthetic “tics”. Michel Jardin liked the “seagull’s wing” type doors and also the famous stripes found on the Fuego. He was not against the idea of the bubble as a tailgate. Idea for which the R25 has glorified itself, below.

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However, the father of this aesthetic characteristic is given to the owner of the style, Rober Opron, who, it is said, had experienced it on these projects during his years at the head of the Citroën style, from 1964 to 1975.

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Robert Opron in the center with, on the left, Gaston Juchet.

And since then, the history of French automotive style has remembered that the “bubble” was a creation of Robert Opron. The latter actually arrived at Renault in 1975 and five years later – the lifetime of a model study at the time – the Fuego was there with its bubble tailgate ! Maybe we need to rewrite the real history. Of course, Opron took this concept of the “bubble tailgate” to series production, but it was Renault, under the responsibility of Gaston Juchet – and while Opron was still at Citroën – that this famous bubble was born !

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Here are some sketches by Gaston Juchet that testify to the work carried out by this discreet man. These documents come from the eponymous website (Juchet.fr) held as a tribute to their father by his children, including Jean-Michel Juchet, now “General Manager market communication steering” in Munich, at… BMW.

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This drawing of a two-door coupé undated above but which can easily be located in the 1960s brings several interesting themes such as the removable roof (or retractable canvas), the rear panel in the shape of a spoiler and arch and of course the “bubble” !

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Gaston Juchet did not just integrate this “bubble tailgate” concept into coupe or large sedan models. He was thinking about it at the end of the 1960s with this small two-door city car (above) that kept the same themes of the side arch and the bubble.

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In addition to his work as manager of a (small) team, Gaston Juchet worked hard on each project or drawing to provide new architectural solutions. Thus, above, we can guess that the rear bubble is divided into two elements. More than a stylistic effect, it is first of all an industrial vision that pushes the great designer to conceive his project in this way, because the glassmakers at the time did not know how to produce such a developed bubble!

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To finish on this little known aspect of the designer who thought architecture as much as design and industrialization, here is one of his projects for another two-door city car with a rear bubble still split in two. But whose left part, much wider than the right, opened from left to right, while the right part was not without evoking the bubble of the AMC Pacer !

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There is no question here of affirming that it was indeed Gaston Juchet who “invented” the bubble tailgate at the expense of Robert Opron. Only to confirm that the trends of the time seemed so strong that all manufacturers were thinking about it ! As for those who will remind us that Opron was an architect at heart since he designed his own house, I will finish with this beautiful drawing (above) of a house designed by… Gaston Juchet !

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