1986 Renault R5 Turbo 2
Chassis no. VF182200000500074
Belying the conventional wisdom that theres no substitute for cubic inches, the Renault 5 Turbo burst forth on the scene in 1980. The turbocharging revolution was in full swing, as the fuel crises of the 1970s had eaten into the popularity of true muscle cars. As a substitute, many manufacturers were offering part-time muscle, engines with exhaust-driven superchargers that gave a shot of adrenalin only when called upon, leaving a gas-sipping engine to achieve better fuel mileage at light throttle.
Turbocharging was already old news by the 1970s. General Motors had used the technique to hop up the Oldsmobile Cutlass V8 and the Corvair air-cooled six in 1962. But gas was cheap and lead-foot drivers preferred big thumping V8s. BMW was the first to make hay with turbocharging, during the first fuel crisis in 1973. Porsche soon followed suit with the eponymous 911 Turbo, introduced at the 1974 Paris motor show. Buick, Mercedes-Benz and Saab all had turbos for 1978, and Ford, Audi and several Japanese manufacturers quickly got in on the act.
Renault, however, had a different objective. Régie Nationale des Usines Renault had a long history with rallying, fielding Gordini-tuned Dauphines and R8s in the 1960s. The rear-engine, rear-wheel drive cars performed exceptionally well, rolling up enviable records in the Alpine Rally, Tour de Corse and San Remo. The shift to front-wheel drive, however, changed the dynamic. Although an R17 Gordini demonstrated success in WRC events, it was the front-drive R5 hatchback that broke the barrier in the WRC, giving serious competition to the rear-drive cars. It was, however, compromised in power, even with a tuned, Alpine-badged hemi-head 93bhp engine.
Thus came the R5 Turbo, not merely an exhaust-boosted front-wheel drive rocket but a wolf in sheeps clothing. Power came from a 1,397 cc turbocharged Cléon engine, installed amidships behind the drivers seat. Although built in an R5 shell, mechanically the car was completely different. In standard form it delivered 160 hp; the first 400 cars were homologated for FIA Group 4 racing. Power was successively pushed to 185, then 210 horsepower, and more in a Maxi version. Jean Ragnotti won the Monte Carlo Rally on the cars first WRC outing. A less-expensive version, named Turbo 2, was introduced at the 1982 Paris show. The interior was standard R5 (sold as Le Car in the U.S.), and electric windows were available. The engine, however, was the same as the retrospectively-designated Turbo 1.
The Turbo 2 was never regularly imported, but Sun International Racing, specialists in small manufacturer qualification and niche market importations, brought in a few as gray market cars, which they gladly provided for media tests. The motoring press loved it, outperforming all but Corvettes on the skid pad and bested only by Lamborghini in braking. One magazine dubbed it the best cut and thrust commuter car out there, but regular U.S. imports never materialized.
Only 24,400 kilometers from new, this 1986 Renault 5 Turbo 2 is offered by its second owner. Imported by Sun International Racing, it comes with U.S. EPA and DOT certification papers.
Fitted with Recaro seats, racing harnesses, and anti-theft system, it has never been damaged or re-painted. It is, as seen, completely original, in the rarest and most desirable of the four available Turbo 2 colors. The engine, the 185bhp version with large oil filter, has only ever seen Mobil 1 synthetic oil, and the newly-installed tires are the correct Michelin TRX type for the car.
The car comes complete with its original owners manual, a shop manual and parts book. Probably the best example of surviving Renault 5 Turbo 2s, it is certainly the only one available on the market today. An opportunity like this will not soon be repeated.
- The chassis number for this car is VF182200000500074