Tuesday 23rd July 2013


We've finally found one, and this Sport Spider comes with an intriguing aftermarket accessory

With such an illustrious back catalogue of FWD heroes, it's often easy to forget that Renaultsport's first car sold in Britain was the Sport Spider. And it's probably fair to say the diminutive roadster didn't enjoy quite the success of the later hot hatches.

Let's call it distinctive, shall we?
Let's call it distinctive, shall we?
As has been well-documented, the Spider's success was curtailed by the Lotus Elise; faster, lighter, cheaper and prettier, the Elise comprehensively outscored the Renault where it mattered to British buyers.

15 years later though, and time has been far kinder to the Sport Spider than its contemporary reception would have suggested.

The Sport Spider used the engine from the Clio Williams, producing 150hp and 136lb ft. It's a significant car in Renaultsport's history too; with the Alpine-Caterham sports car project in progress, the Sport Spider assumes a role as (almost) direct antecedent.

Interior befits the Sport Spider tag
Interior befits the Sport Spider tag
From an apathetic and objective business point of view, the Sport Spider's rarity makes it look a great investment too. This private car is easily the least expensive example on PH at £17,500, nearly £10,000 less than this barely-used example. Given only 96 RHD cars came to Britain, surely they can't drop much further?

From a subjective and emotional point of view, the Sport Spider is just damn good fun as well. It won't quite match the Elise, but the stance gives it plenty of grip and the lack of PAS (the brake servo was deleted too) ensures the driver plays an integral role. The communication, feel and excitement we crave from roadsters is most definitely present with the Sport Spider.

This roof is apparently safe at any speed...
This roof is apparently safe at any speed...
However, this particular car is actually without one of the compromises normally associated with roadsters; a fiddly roof. Sport Spiders were supplied without a very flimsy, speed-restricted roof, limiting its usability in Britain. This vendor has made (and sold) some of the canvas tops seen in the pictures, and it's reputedly safe at any speed. It won't rival Magna Steyer for engineering integrity, but it should prove a useful accessory nonetheless. To have it fitted 'in about two minutes' may take some practice though...

The rest of the advert is very confidence-inspiring, with the seller being the owner from new, a recent service in its history, good pictures and a detailed description.

Yes, the Elise remains the sharper, more incisive car that's still cheaper, but the Sport Spider deserves more credit than it receives. Renault's sports car resurgence has the potential to do so

1,998cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power (hp): 150@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 136@4,500rpm
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1997
Recorded mileage: 35,000
Price new: £25,950
Yours for: £17,500

See the original advert here

Author: Matt Bird
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