A little tickle has unleashed the power to deliver on the outrageous looks...
There exists a short but remarkable line of completely bonkers mid-engined French hot hatches, Renault's Clio V6 being the most recent of the breed. That car arrived some 15 years after Peugeot's 205 T16 homologation special, but the first in the line was the Renault 5 Turbo of 1980.
Proportions no less ludicrous all this time on
Like so many of the legendary performance cars we celebrate today, the 5 Turbo road car was built to homologate a competition machine. Conceived for Group 4 rallying (the pre-cursor to Group B), the 5 Turbo's job was to propel Renault to the top of the World Rally Championship, as it had been back in 1973.
Despite its modest 1.4-litre lump (chosen to keep the car within the 2,000cc class once the equivalency factor of the turbocharger had been applied) the stage-going 5 Turbo originally developed 178hp, enough to power it to victory on the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally in Jean Ragnotti's mercurial hands.
Where you'd usually put the weekly shop...
At quite extraordinary unit cost, 400 road-going versions of the rally car were built during the summer of 1980 at Renault's Alpine facility in Dieppe to meet homologation requirements. Once this had been achieved, Renault introduced the cheaper Turbo 2 model, which did away with many of the original's painfully expensive alloy components, but retained the signature architecture and turbo engine. Riggers wrote about this later version, of which more than 3,000 were built, back in April
, but we've since spotted this lightly modified example.
With a John Price Rallying engine upgrade to squeeze an extra 50hp from the four-cylinder powerplant, this immaculate version goes some way to correcting the elephant in the room that is the vast imbalance between pugnaciously confrontational styling and straight-line thrust of the standard Turbo 2.
"It's behind you!" and all that
It may have been the most powerful French car of its day, but the Turbo 2's stock 162hp didn't live up to the aesthetic. With a little over 210hp this car at least has the minerals to back up its bullyboy swollen arches and gaping air intakes. We'd anticipate a sub-six second 0-60 dash, whereas the standard car takes 6.6.
The very concept of hacking a massive hole in the boot floor of a shopping hatch to create space for a turbocharged engine without any precedent was the work of deranged genius. A 30 per cent power hike gives the Renault 5 Turbo 2 longevity in this age of swollen outputs and performance figures.
RENAULT 5 TURBO 2
Engine: 1,397cc 4-cyl, turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power (hp): 162@6,000rpm (standard)
Torque (lb ft): 163@3,250rpm
First registered: 1986
Recorded mileage: 17,600
Price new: £17,000
Yours for: £32,000
See the original advert here.