By on February 2, 2018

Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboWe’ve had a couple of Renaults featured on Rare Rides previously. Starting out gently with the Kenosha, Wisconsin-built Alliance GTA, we kicked it up a notch with Renault’s second generation 5 GT Turbo.

But that hatchback was sort of a pretender using the 5 Turbo name. Let’s look at the original one, which was altogether more serious.Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboToday’s Renault hatchback is an R5 Turbo. Unlike the GT Turbo which came afterward, this one had its engine in the back.Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboDebuting at the Brussels Motor Show in 1980, Renault had the rally circuit in mind when engineering the beastly R5. You see, Renault was jealous — jealous of Lancia, which had much success with its Stratos (Rare Rides fodder for a different day).

Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboLike our Alfa Romeo Montreal, design work for this modified hatchback was done by Marcello Gandini over at the Bertone office. He drew up the wide hips and air vents necessary to cool the 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four engine. Producing 158 horsepower, the engine’s thrust is delivered to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual.

Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboRace homologization rules required production of at least 400 road-going examples, allowing the R5 to enter international rallies. Renault’s Alpine division manufactured the initial run in France, though there was simultaneous production in Belgium. Renault took the R5 racing as planned, and won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1981 — its first time at the World Rally Championship. Renault would have a short time to celebrate; Audi was coming out with its Quattro and the era of rear-drive rally car success was at an end.

Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboThe initial run of vehicles was known as Turbo 1, totaling to 1,820 hatchbacks. Afterward, Turbo 2 production started. This model used more off-the-shelf Renault parts, and was less expensive than the Turbo 1. Renault was able to produce and sell more of the less expensive Turbo 2, with a total production figure of 3,167.

Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboThough the special lightweight components were replaced with stock ones, the Turbo 2 maintained almost the same performance as its illustrious sibling. A 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 120 miles per hour was very respectable for the time. Racing versions had amped up performance, of course.Image: 1984 Renault R5 TurboToday’s example is a Turbo 2 from 1984. Located in the northern Seattle suburb of Vancouver, in Canada, it has covered a little over 45,000 miles. Asking price is nearly $122,000 USD, which Renault expert Chris Tonn tells me is a bit too high.

But don’t let that put you off. Consult with your financial planner today, and make room for Renault R5.

[Images via seller]

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32 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Renault R5 Turbo Is Your Hot Hatch Dream From 1984...”

  • avatar

    For some reason I’m thinking Spy vs. Spy.

  • avatar

    It’s the LeCar from hell!

    (By the way, Corey, you might want to make a correction to the mileage figure in the last paragraph.)

  • avatar

    A buddy of mine in high school, his sister had a brand new LeCar, black w/ gold “LeCar” lettering on the rockers, mags and that silly fabric sunroof…..which sucked in Ottawa Winters.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember seeing tons of LeCars racing at Road America back in the early 80s. Probably at the June Sprints.

      • 0 avatar

        The rear engine ones were wicked fast. I remember when their factory driver Jacquemart was killed in one at Mid-Ohio – one of those unfortunate fatalities where he would have walked away if the HANS device had been around.

  • avatar

    I remember seeing one of these, or some variation on it, in the local Auto Trader in the early 1990s. ISTR the ad claimed it was a Stage III or something hoontastic like that. I probably would have ended up crashing it, losing my license, or both.

  • avatar

    I always loved these, they’re pretty much the ultimate hot 80s hatch. But $122K?! Too rich for my blood. How much did these go for new?

  • avatar

    Looking at the junction of the rear fenders and tail lamps, I think I now see some design inspiration for the current Civic hatchback.

  • avatar

    sigh…with the suitable application of money, one could do this to a Golf R with an RS3 motor in the back. Or one of Audi’s hi-po lengthwise engines.

    DSG, please.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Its amazing the feeling of a small and very light vehicles, with moderate power.

    I had an amazing ride by a rally driver when I was young, 17 , in a Datsun 1600 modified for rallying.

    We went for runs around dirt roads, what an experience sitting in the navigators seat.

    Explosive is the only word I can use to desribe these types of vehicles.

    This vehicle got me hooked onto the world DCOE sidedraughts and Datsuns. This experience lead me to building my own rally “vehicle” a 620 pickup. What a handfull to drive, but the most fun anyone could ever want.

    Good article Corey. Do some more rallying related articles.

    Rear drive rally cars are an amazing

  • avatar

    Did this thing understeer like other rear engine cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      It apparently had BOTH kinds of ‘steer:

      • 0 avatar

        Not too much to do with this car. this is better:

        These weren’t toys, and group B rally was the most dangerous modern car racing. It was eventually banned because drivers and spectators were dying at an unsustainable rate. The was what this car was built for – it isn’t a lecar.


  • avatar

    I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Switzerland, and always craned my neck when I saw one of these. They are as outrageous, in their own way, as a Countach. The closest thing we’ve ever had to a successor was the insane Nissan Juke-R; now imagine the Juke-R had cost $50k instead of ten times that and been available through all GT-R dealers.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I can only think of Barbara Carrera in Never Say Never Again .

  • avatar

    Quattro-shcmattro. In the right environment the R5 was still a threat. It won Corsica in 82 and 85. And it won Portugal in 86.

  • avatar

    “[V]ery respectable for the time” actually undersells how quick these were. Had you grey-market imported one of these to the States, what on the US market would have been faster in 1984? (I could be wrong, but if memory serves that was the only way a US resident could’ve gotten one.) Off the top of my head: the new Corvette, a 911 Carrera, a 928 (maybe, I think these got faster in ’85), a 308, a Countach, or a grey-market Berlinetta Boxer. I’m probably forgetting something, but I think that’s about it for the US market. Except in a top speed run, e.g., the Turbo 2 would’ve stomped on something like the Mustang SVO, which was deservedly a well-regarded car in ’84.

    Cars very soon got more powerful and faster, as the industry refined MPFI and such. (The SVO, for example, got a power bump for ’85.) But for a brief period of time, the Turbo 2 was one of the quickest production cars in the world.

  • avatar

    Let’s get a little cleared away. Under no circumstances is Vancouver a “northern suburb” of Seattle. One, it is in a foreign country – Canada. Two, it is not anybody’s suburb – there are nearly a million people there. Third, running the radars all the way it’s a good two hours commute to Seattle from there. Four – you need a passport to go there. None of which (1) – (4) qualifies you as a suburb. You don’t have suburbs in foreign countries, you know?

  • avatar

    This car has been on my bucket list since I first saw the pictures in 1981. When I saw one in person in Paris in 1983 it moved up to the top 5. There was a place in Pompano Beach, FL that sold the federalized ones for around $25K around 1984 or so. We stopped to look at them and they were visually stunning. I would have given anything to take one home (but I was 15).

  • avatar

    “Asking price is nearly $122,000 USD, which Renault expert Chris Tonn tells me is a bit too high.”

    Actually, that’s not unreasonable given a couple of factors. The US dollar has weakened against euro (€1.00 is now $1.25 USD). Secondly, there’s probably not many of them on the road due to various reasons such as damages, collisions, blatant negligence, deferred maintenance, life as garage queens, and so forth.

    Looking through and (Germany’s largest online classified listings for automobiles), I can see many of Turbo 1 and Turbo 2 listed for the price between €75,000 to €120,000 ($93,444.81 USD to $149,520.23 USD), including one Group B version for €135,000 ($168,210.26 USD).

    So this guy took trouble of sourcing the R5 Turbo 2 in excellent condition, registering himself as its owner, arranging the shipment from Europe to Canada, sorting the customs declaration, and so forth. Give him the credit where it’s due. Not to mention the need to have good return of investment for his trouble.

    I suspect this car had side-turn signal repeaters attached to the front part of front wing by the owner outside France. Actually, there’s better design and better location than this. Renault didn’t fit the side-turn signal repeaters unless they were mandated in the countries such as Italy and Scandinavian countries and until the EU regulations made them compulsory from 1995 on.

    • 0 avatar

      “Not to mention the need to have good return of investment for his trouble.”

      Probably shouldn’t mention that part ;)

      Everything else though, sure, that justifies the asking price. The market will decide the actual selling price.

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