A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £81,000
Supposedly, the Renault 5 Turbo concept came about after a discussion between Jean Terramorsi and his assistant Henry Lherm in 1976, who were aiming to increase the popularity of the Renault 5 model by creating a competition version for inclusion in FIA Group 4. In a bit of a brain-storming session, they came up with some slightly 'wild' ideas including an engine in the middle of the car, big wheels, and spectacular bodywork.
However, the 'Renault Sport' engineers quickly embraced this thinking and, utilising the R5 Alpine as the basis, scrapped the standard front-engine, front wheel drive layout in favour of a mid-engine, rear-drive setup. As the project progressed, Renault Sport decided that the concept should be reversed, in order to get approval from the naturally cautious company hierarchy, and produce a really sporting road car, which could then morph into a racing saloon. Designer Yves Legal set about drawing the almost cartoonish hyper-trophied design, whilst Serge Masset and Philippe Chasselut worked on the 160bhp 1397cc engine and the resulting R5 Turbo made its debut at the Paris Exhibition in 1980.
Renault’s new R5 Turbo ‘pocket-rocket’ sports hatch was born, an expensive-to-produce homologation special to allow participation in Group 4 racing and international rallies, and only 400 examples were produced, just enough to satisfy the homologation volume requirements. In 1981, Jean Ragnotti and his co-driver Jean-Marc Andrie won the Monte Carlo Rally outright for Renault, and the following year Ragnotti won the Tour de Corse.
By 1982, Renault were producing the R5 Turbo 2, a slightly more production-friendly version of their race-car-for-the-road and, in 1984, 'Group B' homologation was sought for the Renault 'Maxi 5 Turbo' to enable it to compete in the World Rally Championship. By the end of the year, Renault produced a batch of just 200 special Turbo 2 cars, without any customer orders, to allow the racing Maxi 5 Turbo to compete within a higher engine category and utilise wider tyres. These superior Turbo 2 cars, dubbed the ‘Type 8221’, received a specific 1437cc engine type (C7K-700) with mechanical upgrades (including an uprated turbocharger, crankshaft, cylinder head, cylinder head gasket and rocker adjustment bolt) which was good for a rumoured 180bhp, plus an aluminium roof, additional aero and geometry changes, all of which enabled it to be competitive against the Lancia Stratos, Audi Sport, and Porsche 911s in Group B. Jean Ragnotti and Pierre Thimonier celebrated the new car's maiden outing with a win in the Tour de Corse in 1985.
The ‘Type 8221’ is now highly-prized, and regarded as the ultimate road-going Renault Turbo 2, whilst also being numerically the rarest of all R5 Turbo models and the only version homologated for Group B.
The car presented here is a 1985 Renault 5 Turbo 2 Type 8221, car #133 of the 200. Importantly, due to the rarity, value and imitation potential of these specific models, this car’s type and authenticity can all be confirmed by the presence of numerous correct chassis plates, stampings and features. Further confidence and ratification come in the form of an inspection carried out by Olly Melliard, a leading UK-based R5 expert, who recently received the car at his workshops, and was able to provide a report regarding its type, condition and performance (this complete report will accompany the car at auction).
Originally, it was delivered new on the 22nd April 1985 to the Renault Dealer in Montlhéry and is believed to have spent its life in and around the South of France. It was specifically sourced for our vendor from a French specialist and has now been imported into the UK (with all NOVA paperwork completed and the allocation of a UK registration number imminent) and has passed an MOT.
Our vendor informs us that prior to his purchase, the car was serviced by the French specialist, and that the previous owner informed the specialist that the engine had benefited from a rebuild (there is an e-mail in the car's history file from the specialist to our vendor mentioning this rebuild work). The indicated distance covered is 87,000 kms (54,000 miles) and certainly, the condition and performance of the car is commensurate with this moderate figure, given that it's almost 35 years old!
This fabulously eccentric ‘8221’ R5 Turbo 2 represents the pinnacle of this unprecedented French concept, produced in very limited quantities, and is ready to captivate new passengers with its sheer performance, young-timer spirit, and its ability to impart such a powerful ‘thrill of driving’. Surely, these cars must currently be considered one of the most affordable of all the 'Group B Maxi' homologation models and as is the way of these things, a very astute investment.