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Classified of the week: Renault 5 Turbo
Fast, fun and flimsy, the original pocket rocket's expected to reach more than £70,000
This week’s wallet-troubling find is the original hyper hatchback – the Renault 5 Turbo.
Designed by none other than Marcello Gandini – a man whose credits also include all the best classic Lamborghinis and the mighty Lancia Stratos – the 5 Turbo remains a symphony of angles, vents and flares.
In fact, the 5 Turbo got its start because of Lancia. Renault bosses wanted a screaming hot version of the 5 precisely because of the success of the Stratos, and asked Bertone to take its warmish hatch and make it a giant-killer.
And that’s exactly what happened, with the front-drive hatchback reborn as a rear-wheel-drive, mid-rear-engined weapon. It was a featherweight belter, designed to win rally stages the way the Alpine A110 did before Lancia spoiled the party.
Now for the rub – and it’s a big ’un. Somewhere between £70,000 and £100,000 big, in fact, which is quite a lot for a little French hatchback.
But, if you were trying to justify it to your significant other / bank manager, this is probably the cleanest Renault 5 in existence, with less than 17,000 miles on the clock. In addition to the four-wheel disc brakes, fully independent suspension and five-speed gearbox (unheard of in hot hatches of the time), this particular 5 Turbo also benefits from a factory ’Stage 2’ upgrade.
The practical upshot of the Stage 2 kit is a boost in power from 158bhp to 185bhp, which is an astonishing amount of power from a 1980s four-cylinder engine. Race versions of the same basic engine (stressing the word ‘basic’ here) went on to make up to 380bhp, but this one’s been kept much closer to the standard article. And, unless you’re Jean Ragnotti, 185bhp is more than enough to propel the 970kg body into some seriously slidey adventures.
This 5 Turbo - offered up by Bonhams in the upcoming Scottsdale auction - is sold with period-correct alloy wheels (just look at the dish on the rear end) as well as the original Renault units. In fact, that’s a bit of a theme. There are subtle modern upgrades to the suspension, tyres and muffler, but the original articles are being sold with the car, in case you’re a trainspotting collector type.
But is that price a bridge too far, even for a mint-condition road-going rally car?