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From left, the Dahle family: Karl Joergen, Katinka, Svend, Jorunn and Kassandra; and the Hagen family: Jeanette, Kjetil, Martin, Trond and Kari, are driving from New York to Los Angeles in their 1962 and 1963 Renault RL cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the brand. The families are from near Oslo, Norway, and made a stop in Bemidji because the original Renaults (pronounced Reh-no) were cold-weather tested in the area. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Two families celebrate 50th anniversary of Renault

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The Hagen and Dahle families from near Oslo, Norway, are traveling from New York City to Los Angeles in a relaxed cross-country tour.

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Along with a rented motor home, they are driving, respectively, 1962 and 1963 Renault (pronounced Reh-no) 4Ls to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the little French cars. The four-cylinder cars rate at 25 and 29 horsepower.

Svend Dahle and Trond Hagen said the families became acquainted because they started a Renault collectors and restorers club. Svend owns 12 and Trond owns eight.

"We're related by our cars, actually," said Trond. "We've been doing this for 30 years."

He said one of their treks was from Oslo to Capetown, South Africa.

Each day, parents and children sit down for a breakfast meeting to decide their day's destination. But they did have in mind some specific sites they wanted to visit - Detroit, the Grand Canyon and Bemidji.

Svend and Jorunn Dahle and their three children, Karl Joergen, Katinka and Kassandra, and Trond and Kari Hagen and their three children, Jeanette, Kjetil and Martin, zeroed in on Bemidji because of an old article in a French auto magazine. The photos featured new Renaults parked in January, 1961, by the statues of Paul Bunyan and "sa vache," or "cow." (Let's hope Babe the Blue Ox didn't hear the French called him a cow.)

"That's the whole idea for this journey, this picture," said Svend.

Eventually, they decided on an Oslo-New York-Los Angeles-Oslo trip.

The French article also featured a photo of a Renault parked beside the Black Duck in Blackduck. The cars were in Bemidji for cold-weather testing, and the families set up their Renaults to duplicate those photos.

On Wednesday, they visited Concordia Language Villages and admired the Skogfjorden, the Norwegian Village. They spent the night at the Bemidji KOA before continuing west.

The Renault 4Ls are tiny four-seaters, so some of the family members usually ride in the motor home.

"Yesterday, when we went downtown, we put five in each car - it was crowded," said Trond. "There are a lot of people who stop and talk to us."

The families have a website at www.renaultklubben.no. To follow their trip, go to their blog at Renault4.blogg.no, which is written in both Norwegian and English.

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