Rare Rides: The 1997 Renault Sport Spider, Track Car for the Road

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1997 renault sport spider track car for the road

Today’s Rare Ride is equally at home on a track or on a road. Lightweight and minimalistic in its approach, the Renault Sport Spider has only the things you need to drive, and nothing else.

Let’s check out this bashful looking sports car.

Renault had a difficult time in the latter part of the Eighties. Financial troubles meant the company had to focus on core product, and not successors to more niche performance vehicles (like the R5 Turbo, for example). By the turn of the Nineties, Renault had restructured itself into a leaner and meaner state-owned company and sold off wet blanket AMC to Chrysler. It was time to bring back the excitement!

Subsidiary Renault Sport was tasked with the Projet de Création d’Excitation or whatever it was called and set to work. The new car was designed from the get-go as a racer and a road car. Renault created an aluminum chassis to make the car as light and strong as possible and then chose body panels made of plastic. The exterior looks were penned by Renault’s chief designer Patrick Le Quément, who also had a hand in the slightly important Ford Sierra, and the very successful Renault Twingo. Scissor doors were a flamboyant standard feature.

The engine and manual transmission of the Spider were a single unit, mounted transversely in the middle of the car. Inspired by airplane design, the package was fixed in an oscillating hinge. This feature eliminated engine vibration within the chassis. The engine itself was a 2.0-liter mill as used in the Clio Williams edition and made 148 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. Not a huge power figure, but the Spider made up for it with a curb weight of just 2,050 pounds.

After a couple of years in development, a concept was shown to the public at Geneva in 1994. The Spider went on sale in 1996, shortly after it entered production. All Spiders were built by Alpine at their factory in Seine-Maritime and were the first car to wear a Renault Sport badge. Initially, there was no windscreen available, but a slim “aeroscreen” was created for the right-hand drive UK versions of the Spider, of which 100 were made. In 1997, a regular windscreen became available and was fitted with that utmost luxury: a wiper. Around 1,800 Spiders were made in total, and Renault also made a few racing examples that took part in the one-car Spider Championship. The Spider raced between 1995 and 1999 before it was retired, which was also the last year of standard Spider production.

Today’s Rare Ride is Sonic the Hedgehog blue and is one of the no windshield versions. Legal for import to Canada, the Spider asks $58,164 USD or $77,492 loonies.

[Images: seller]

Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • Drew8MR Drew8MR on Nov 02, 2020

    I didn't even know these existed, but I'm super tempted to buy one now.

  • 7402 7402 on Nov 03, 2020

    Gullwing doors? When these came out in the Lamborghini Countach they were called scissor doors. For gullwing doors, see the original Mercedes-Benz 300SL or the Delorean.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Nov 03, 2020

      Right you are.

  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • Scott "It may not be the ideal hauler to take the clan cross-country to Wally World considering range anxiety "Range Anxiety is a chosen term that conceals as much as it discloses. You don't care about range that much if you can recharge quickly and current BV's (battery vehicles) can't, no matter how good the chargers are. From what I've been reading it is likely that within 5 years there will be batteries in cars, most likely Tesla's, that can charge fast enough with no harm to the batteries to satisfy all of us with no need to increase range beyond a real world 300-ish miles.And that's when I buy one.