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The Renault 5 Turbo was a high-performance hatchback launched by the French manufacturer at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1980.
Seven years after winning the World Rally Championship in 1973, Renault introduced the new R5 Turbo as a pure homologation special to compete in Group 3 and 4 racing and international rally competition. In response to Lancia's rallying success with the mid-engined Stratos, Renault's Jean Terramorsi, vice-president of production, asked Bertone's Marc Deschamps to design a new sports version of the Renault 5 Alpine supermini. The distinctive new rear bodywork was styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Although the standard Renault 5 had a front-mounted engine, the 5 Turbo featured a mid-mounted 1397cc Cléon-Fonte turbocharged engine placed behind the driver mid-body, in a modified Renault 5 chassis. In standard form, the engine developed 158hp and 163 lb ft of torque.
Though it used a modified body from a standard Renault 5 and was badged a Renault 5, the mechanicals were radically different, the most obvious difference being rear-wheel drive and the mid-engine placement. At the time of its launch it was the most powerful production French car. Renault's initial plan was to produce just 400 road-going examples, the minimum needed for homologation purposes. When the car was revealed to the public at the 1980 Brussels Motor Show, however, Renault was surprised to see the level of customer interest in its narrowly-focused race car for the street.
In the car's first three production years, the Dieppe, France, Alpine factory produced 1,690 R5 Turbos, though it isn't clear how many examples wound up wearing registration plates instead of competition numbers. Official documentation from Renault states that 802 ‘Turbo 1s' were built in 1980, 536 in 1981, and a further 352 were built in 1982.
Numbered plaque (No. 869), Front fog lights, Renault 5 Alpine steering wheel, Ashtray, Cigarette lighter, Lockable glove compartment.
The audacious exterior of this rare eighties super-hatch is finished in bright red with the correctly contrasting bumpers. The bodywork remains to a very presentable standard with the satin trim appearing as new throughout. Manufactured in early 1981 this R5 is number 869 of less than 1,700 ‘Turbo 1s' produced over just three years.
The Bertone-styled cabin remains in very good order. The seats present extremely well with minimal signs of use, and the carpets throughout are brand new. The dash and fascia are also in great condition and present with a marvelous original finish. The door cards, steering wheel, and gearshift gaiter are not the factory standard although correct items are still manufactured by a specialist company in France.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The centrally mounted 1397cc unit in the Turbo was derived from the Renault 5 Alpine hot hatch, known as the Gordini in the UK. Using a modified Lancia Stratos as a testbed, Renault began work on increasing the engine's output from a normally aspirated 93hp to a turbocharged 158hp; the result is what you see here.
Neatly enclosed behind the front seats and hidden away by the freshly carpeted panels the engine itself appears in fine order and was most recently serviced in August 2015 at 72,344km.
WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
The Turbo sits on original alloys in grey. They each present extremely well with absolutely no curb marking or milking beneath the lacquer to speak of. They are shod in a matching set of period Michelin TRX tyres with plenty of tread remaining.
The Renault was first registered on 20th July 1981. It was imported into the UK from Switzerland in 2015 and has since been MOT'd and UK registered. Present in the history file are the V5C and MOT certificate, plus maintenance records dating from 1998. The service history is as follows:
15/09/1998 at 53,075km
19/09/1999 at 57,402km
09/04/2011 at 70,424km
19/05/2012 at 71,022km
08/06/2013 at 71,688km
06/06/2014 at 72,163km
13/08/2015 at 72,344km