SOTW: Renault 5 GT Turbo
Max Power is dead (sort of...), long live the unmolested R5 GT T!
Despite there being an abundance of new small hatches to choose from, they don’t quite stir the soul in the way the original lightweight versions did back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This was a time when cars like the 205, Fiesta, AX and the Renault 5 were the first choice for popping to the shops. It was also a time when many manufacturers started to do silly things to those shopper’s favourites, sticking on bodykits, and upgrading chassis, braking and power.
While the 205GTI is the car most covet from this period, many buyers at the timewere only after one thing – a TURBO badge on the bootlid. Cast your mind back and remember oddities like the Fuego Turbo, the Metro Turbo, the Bluebird Turbo and the Piazza Turbo, all from a time when the turbo was King. As a hatch fan though, you either sat in the Ford RS camp or stood up for the 5 GTT like me.
The Phase II was launched in 1987 and saw water-cooling added for the turbo and a new ignition system that allowed the engine to rev 500rpm higher than the earlier version. These changes increased power to 118hp but retained the lairy character of the original, wrapped up in more sophisticated, colour-coded body-styling
I have never owned a GTT myself, but I did spend plenty of time in friends' cars and I have fond memories of the French tin rockets. Firstly, you really didn’t want to crash one as I don’t think I have ever been in a car that feels so flimsily built, and one where you could dent the door simply by leaning on it. Secondly, I remember how damn fast these things felt from standstill and how the driver did their best to keep the car in a straight line in anything other than bone dry conditions. Perhaps my inexperience of fast cars played a part here, but I had never felt anything as fast.
Lastly I remember owners being under the bonnet more often than behind the wheel, often asking for lifts as they awaited parts or rolled their eyes at the latest engine failure. Despite all of this I wanted one (in fact, I still want one today), but finding an unmolested example proves very hard.
The vendor states that it’s even running standard boost which is almost unheard of nowadays. What would a return to standard suspension cost you anyway? Not a lot in all probability, and once that is done you will be left with a great looking, useable hatch.
You can’t deny that the 5 GTT image is lacking somewhat, largely thanks to the plethora of ‘tuning’ magazines encouraging you to alter the fast Five. But in the week that Max Power has admitted defeat, perhaps it's time to brush those stereotypes away and relive your youth while you still can. All we ask is that you keep it nice and standard, so it can look the way Renault intended for years to come.
Advert (as written by vendor): Renault 5 GT Turbo (1990), 83,000 miles. This is my renault 5 turbo, its done 80,000 miles has tax and mot till march next year. its compleatly standard apart from its been lowered and has an air filter. still running standard boost and all original pipe work. inside is mint with original drivers seat. it does have dents but its 20 years old.... this sun roof has been stuck shut. small area of paint has been chipped off the drivers door. had new front breaks n uprated head gasket. no part exchange. £1000
A colleague over-revved his (no girly rev limiter then) and popped a pushrod out - He put it back in and it was right as rain.
Also, whilst they may have been lightweight - Behind the wheel it always felt much safer than my Vauxhall Calibra, because you knew you could scrub off the speed in the 5.
To be honest, a number of friends had them (going back a bit). Two were amazingly reliable, even when tuned with 'Pace' front-mount intercoolers and high boost etc.
The other was a bit of a dog and didn't like any significant increase in power.
Really flimsy but when you only need sub 120bhp to get you a 7 sec 0-60, who is complaining. Makes the current crop of 200bhp hot-hatches look like school busses.
Chap in my town had one of the BBR ones. He sold his Esprit and spent some 9k (in 1992!) on an engine build to get some 280 bhp.
Lots of my friends also had them with lots of remaps, exhaust options etc....
Mine was eventually stolen from me (doh didnt have an alarm etc) and was cut up by a policeman running a car ringing business whilst on sick leave. the police even watched mine be stolen as they were watching the bent coppers gang. When I threatened to sue the police I got a call from CID who made me aware that messing with them wasnt a great idea!
Oh happy memories!
Oh and the mileage on this one...you can unplug speedo in 10 seconds and stop the miles going on (apparently!).
Yes, it was an undesirable alternative to the 5 (much like the 309 GTi was to the 205 GTi), but it had the all-important Turbo badge on the back and that was important for a late teen/early twentysomething back in the early 90s.
surprisingly nippy, I'm not sure this one would still do 60 in 7.5 seconds though..
I do love mine though, and I would recomend one to anyone who is willing to look after their car.
£1000 for that looks really cheap. Tidy ones are starting to go for much more these days.