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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

The Death Eaters, Chapter 3: Renault R5 Turbo and Clio V6 | Hagerty Media

Welcome to a series we call The Death Eaters. With the help of the Lane Motor Museum and Kentucky's wonderful NCM Motorsports Park , Hagerty is exploring the stories and real-world behavior of legendary cars with infamous handling. The stuff of lore, both common and obscure, from turbo Porsches to Reliant three-wheelers.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/death-eaters-renault-r5-turbo-and-clio-v6/
33 REPLIES 33
Daves1800
Pit Crew

Thanks indeed be to Jeff Lane. And if you have not yet seen that Lane Museum collection, by all means do! I lived in Chattanooga for a while & ventured to the Lane. Persuaded my Mid-West race diver (who had to see Road Atlanta) to stop & peruse the collection and two things happened:
a) Jeff Lane has to see what was in the Race Trailer
b) The driver's spouse was enthralled by this unique vehicle collection
Lightning1
Detailer

I spent 10 years operating French machinery. When it comes to French technology, the French copy nobody, nobody copies the French. They are just different.
OldCarMan
Instructor

They do use superior US nuclear plant designs, as the best in the world. Too bad, so-called activists, don't see it that way here.
LamboEd
Intermediate Driver

I'm gad I don't have any French cars! And I don't plan on having one in the future! LOL I will stick with Italian cars and American classic and muscle cars!
Oldimpala
Intermediate Driver

Ed...

You're insane. The French build some amazing machines. They fit well next to my German, American, British and Italian stuff in the garage, but the above poster is correct... They're engineered exceedingly well, just very, very different.

Especially Citroen.
wdb
Intermediate Driver

I'm with you -- Ed doesn't know what he's missing. I drove Peugeots for many years; two 505's, the first a 1983 S and the second a 1988 Turbo S 5-speed, with a lovely little 405S manual wagon in between. In every case the ride quality and the seat comfort were unlike anything I have experienced before or since. I daresay the Turbo was the perfect sedan. It did everything with grace, panache, aplomb. It made me grin at the oddest times, like when I took a small bridge too fast and the car got all loose and light -- but just for a moment -- then collected its skirts and gently set the whole works down on the other side, leaving me in no doubt that I was back in complete control. Delightful.

Yep, Ed's crazy.
Lightning1
Detailer

Oldimpala,..

Insane is a strong word. Timid may be better, but Ed may not think twice about flying across the country on an Airbus that's made in Toulouse France. Faites bon voyage!
OldCarMan
Instructor

A friend of mine worked very closely here and there, with Renault people in aerodynamics. He liked to characterize their engineering, as "doing a bang-up 90% job"
buellerdan
Intermediate Driver

The photo of the bent cone under the rocker of the Clio says it all.
It would be interesting to interview drivers who actually raced these beasts back in the day.....if any survived.
DrOverboost
Pit Crew

LMAO. To call this a terrific review is an understatement. I felt like I was in the R5 with you, clenching for the whole ride.
RickB
Pit Crew

Written in a manner that not only is informative buy entertaining. Need more articles presented in this type of format.
shrimpf
New Driver

Well my uncle owned on of those crazy R5s.
Of course he had it tuned to nearly double the stock horsepower.
I did ride with hime once: It was really scary: The car was wide, the curvy Swiss roads very narrow.
And there was my uncle: One eyed and some evil people said he owned half a brain only: He wrecked many cars: Inluding a brand new Alfa Romeo 2l of the early Sixties, the Maserati of my grandpa, transporters and other cars.
I am still surprised he survived until he died of cancer. His way of riding tuned bikes was even scarier than his car driving style.
But the Renault hanedled very well. But we hit the croad curbs with the extremely wide wheels several times.
He told me once, that a 911 Turbo tried to follow him over a mountain pass and the Porsche driver nearly fell to his grave in a narrow curve when the turbo kicked in at the worst moment possible. The old 911 were no match for the Renault on curvy terrain.
DLP
Pit Crew

The R5 Turbos are just insane. Love them.
Maestro1
Instructor

I had, as a commuter, one of these stock standard Renault boxes in San Francisco, 100 years ago, an old city, which can be difficult to negotiate in a big American unit. It was absolutely reliable, roomy interior, and the French miracle of having it ride like a Buick. The
switchgear was a little tender, but I can tell you that it was perfect for getting across the City in a hurry. I also remember that a small girl in my science class had a 4CV; we tried to put 6 students in it and drive it. I doubt we accomplished that but I know everybody loved the car.
Thank you for this and stay well.
dhaugh
Intermediate Driver

I got to see the Clio in person, this very one I'm sure, at Road Atlanta back in 2014 or 2015, can't remember which. The gentlemen who drove it there did just what the author did, borrowed it from the Lane. I was fascinated by the engineering and how they stuffed that V6 in the back seat, it reminded me of a car I saw once named Shogun, I think it was a Ford Fiesta with a Taurus SHO drivetrain stuffed in the back seat. It takes all kinds of nut jobs to dream this stuff up, and dangerous or not they're all cool as hell
MATTMERICA
Instructor

I knew I was in for a treat with this gem from the 1st paragraph:

coked-up 1980s four-footers
danhise
Intermediate Driver

" . . . as if a bowling ball were sat on your shoulders, and perpetually a beat behind the front axle."

Am I not enough of a car guy to understand this, or do I detect the signs of a rush to deadline?
56NomadJohn
Pit Crew

Still pictures of these cars going around cones. Why no video?
Tinkerah
Technician

Now that you mention it some short video clips would be further illuminating.
drhino
Instructor

Wonderful prose. Excellent.
fasteddee
New Driver

I was very surprised & disappointed that the 1960 Simca Aronde did not make the list. It had a Flathead 4 cylinder engine with a 4 speed on the column and absolutely no parts available in America due to Chrysler abandoning the brand completely in 1961. It was great on gas & pretty much unbreakable & light enough to push start all by yourself. Unfortunately, it was not fast enough to qualify as a Death Eater apparently. A young teenager's worst nightmare for a first car during the golden age of muscle cars.
Oldimpala
Intermediate Driver

The R5 is one of my dream cars. It's a weird dream car, but... I had a Matchbox of it as a kid; and I loved it. Still do.

It's such a Frankenstein monster of a car that it's incredible. Silly little French car that's essentially wrapped around a giant motor, just because. No good reason. No logic. Just because someone thought it might make a decent rally car.

It's odd in a garage filled with old(er) iron than this Renault, but... The sheer lunacy of the car makes me want to own one even more. I best get cracking, they're beginning to push for the sky for a nice one....
dreamingeagle
Detailer

why is this such a surprise?

Renault, who like nearly all French carmakers historically have been as adept at building sports cars as the Porsche have been at building an imitation Corvette (928, 944 Turbo), once again chose to imitate their Teutonic idols and build a part Mini part 930;

what could go wrong?
chrlsful
Instructor

just got back from Maple Grove'n the Panamerican.
Those guys like the lill stuff (me too). Just saw a 4 cyl do the 1/4 in 5 sec.
But I think it wuz a Starlette (early '80s Toy).
audiocage
Detailer

Nice "Chuckles the Clown" quote, BTW...
Roadsterboy
Pit Crew

I had one of these crazy French rally cars. Mine was a 1980 Renault 5 Turbo 1...S/N 0012. It was originally owned by Francois Castaing who was a V.P. of Renault Sport. This car had a balanced & blue printed motor producing 280 hp running 22lbs of boost. It was scary fast. I owned it for over 12 years. It was electric blue with a wild blue/red interior and gorgeous Gotti wheels . Relentless acceleration in all gears!

I tried to post some photos, it won't let me

OldCarMan
Instructor

While working at AMC, ca. 1983, as the French were taking over, we got the LeCars and then the R5. It was kind of legendary, as being very fast and capable and a bright spot for AMC. Then we heard that a local Detroit driver was killed in one, which definitely took the bloom off the rose and we lost confidence in French engineering.
Satch
New Driver

Aaah, the joy of reading the inimitable Sam Smith! <i>"The only place you really want to know the R5’s boost is in a corner, and if you are looking at the center stack in an R5, that means you are not looking at the road, and that means that you are probably about to die."</i>

Glorious prose, even if some lines made something shoot out of my nose.
TingeofGinge
Pit Crew

Waiting for the SW20 Turbo review.
brb
Advanced Driver

Great article. Had me looking for an R5 on eBay (none listed).
win59
Detailer

The FORD Escort was a decent rally car - the Renault R5 was two pounds of rally car in a one pound bag. Lunatic good fun with a homicidal grin...!
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

The Renault's are some of my favorite oddball cars from France. Let's take a FWD car and turn it into a RWD car. What could possibly go wrong? It reminds me of recently LS swapped RWD Civic's and the old Fiesta Shogun's. Crazy cars!
SAG
Detailer

R5-Turbo
the joy of Driving,
as with all the Euro manufacture's "one offs"