The Renault 5 Turbo is a “homologation special” mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive version of the standard Renault 5 – though to call it a version of the standard Renault 5 may be a bit of a stretch. Renault produced just over 4000 of these cars (across two generations) and they built them for one reason – rallying.
In the mid 1970’s Lancia had dominated rallying with their “mid-engined” Stratos (winning the WRC in 1974, 1975, and 1976). This success piqued the interest of the motorsport engineers at Renault who became convinced that putting the engine in the middle was the way to achieve success on the rally stages. Their convictions were borne out when in 1981, the Renault 5 Turbo won first place in Monte Carlo, its first competitive outing!
The Renault 5 Turbo took the basic Renault 5 chassis, and modified it to take an engine behind the front seats. The engine used was a 1.4 litre, turbocharged, fuel-injected, inline four engine. In road form, it had around 160bhp, but in motorsport they got this unit churning out over 300bhp!
The mechanicals were of course hugely different to the standard Renault 5 (for one being rear wheel drive). Renault utilised many components from the “parts bin” including rear-suspension from the Alpine A310 V6, and a five-speed gearbox from the Renault 30TX! As you can see from the pictures, the Renault 5 Turbo also featured radically modified bodywork, with wide arches, and a large spoiler at the rear.
Approximately the first 500 cars produced were the true homologation cars, and were known as the “Renault 5 Turbo 1”. These were lighter in weight, and very expensive to manufacture. Once the initial run had been produced, Renault went on to produce a further 3500 units, where some of the lightweight alloy parts were replaced with stock components. This second run of cars became known as the “Renault 5 Turbo 2”. Despite being a little heavier, performance was virtually the same with a top speed of 120mph, and 0-60mph in well under 7 seconds!
These cars are just incredible, as homologation specials so often are. With its ludicrously wide arches, gaping air intakes, quad fog lamps, and stunning multi-spoke wheels this Renault 5 Turbo 2 has looks to kill. Helen & Alex have done an incredible job of both restoring, modifying and documenting this car – we strongly recommend you read the interview below as this car comes with a really touching story.
Renault 5 Turbo 2 (1984)
- High lift cam, updated pistons and rings, high pressure oil pump, cevennes manifold, bigger intercooler and an Omex ECU replaces the K-Jetronic injection system.
- 6-speed gearbox, AP racing competition set-up clutch.
- Sixpence-sharp cadmium painted brakes with Brembo calipers to TDC spec.
- Bilstein dampers with adjustable platforms coupled to a rose-jointed anti-roll bar.
- In order to create an Homage to the Tour de Corse models the car now has a wider body and Tour De Corse front Bumper. Fragile grills and vents were re- engineered and 3D printed by SCAN HD.
- Originally the car was Pearlescent white, the bodywork was acid-dipped, 90's sun roof removed and replaced with new roof panel all painted Pearl Black. The car reflects crystal's of red green and blue in the sunlight.
- Compomotive Heritage RT Maxi wheels, in Anthracite Grey (front 7.5 x 15", rear 9.5 x 16") replace the original wheels. The wheels have been laser aligned to create toe in and camber alignment with a fully adjustable ride height. Rear Tyres are Nankang 245/45ZR16.
- The original seats were repaired and covered in a colour match Colony Hide leather by CW Trimming (West Sussex). All new carpets, door cards and roof trim from Les Sellieres du Domaines (France).
Interview with the owner
- When did you first purchase the car?Originally, back in 1994. But there's a bit of a story here…
- What made you buy this make and model in particular?Alex had always wanted to purchase a Turbo 2. Being half French he spent many summers in France growing up and was a fan of the Renault 8 Gordini and NSU TT. Alex spotted the car in Sporting magazine and drove to Doncaster to view it. The car was Pearlescent White and needed some minor cosmetic tweaks but otherwise ticked the boxes, Alex paid just over £5k at the time.We got married in 1995 and used the Turbo 2 as our wedding car just to be a little different. We had kids, moved to Montreal and then after returning to the UK we couldn't understand why prices for the car were staying low and decided to sell the car to a chap called Yann in 2005 for £8k. It was his plan to do a complete A-Z restoration and so he shipped it to Marseille to start its restoration journey. We stayed in touch and then in 2018 were notified of his death from Malaria. His sister wanted us to buy it as it held sentimental value so we flew over to Marseille and found the car in a million bits. We vowed to complete Yann's restoration.
- What's it like to drive?To drive, the car has binary power which is both exhilarating and a little scary. With 240bhp the classic qualities of a T2 like Turbo lag followed by 100% power plus lack of power steering means the drive is a workout for both body and mind. The smell of the engine in the cockpit and the popping flames from the exhaust and turbo whistles certainly add to the excitement.
- So the car has been fully rebuilt, tell us more about that…When we found the car in a Marseille Lockup the beautifully painted body shell was covered in dust and the car was in a million bits in multiple boxes.The Renault specialist had been storing the car for Yann. We paid him to bring the car back to the UK and finish the work he had started on the engine and gear box.As soon as we got the parts back to the UK we were put in touch with an Engineer Gavin Allison, who had built his own 500 BHP Maxi Turbo. He was excited to be able to help us complete the restoration and so the car and boxes were transported to his garage and later joined by the engine.The restoration took 11 months during the restrictions of Covid-19. We spoke to Gavin daily and periodically took the 2 hour drive to see the progress.Where parts were no longer available or needed reengineering due to the TDC improvements Gavin carefully created the missing parts.The car was finished just 2 weeks before our 25th Wedding Anniversary ready for us to recreate our day.
- So what we love even more with this car… is the fact you've gone over and above, and added your own touch with a raft of amazing modifications. Tell us what exactly has been changed?– Engine– Gearbox– Axle / Drivetrain– Brakes– Suspension– Bodywork– Paintwork– Wheels & Tyres– Interior
- What have you done to the engine?High lift Cam, updated pistons and rings, high pressure oil pump, cevennes manifold, bigger Intercooler and an Omex ECU replaces the K-Jetronic injection system.
- What have you done to the gearbox?6 speed Gearbox, AP racing competition set-up Clutch
- What have you done to the axle / drivetrain?Extended to make it 6 speed.
- What have you done to the brakes?Sixpence-sharp cadmium painted brakes with Brembo calipers to TDC spec.
- What have you done to the suspension?Bilstein dampers with adjustable platforms coupled to a rose jointed anti roll bar.
- What have you done to the bodywork?Yanns dream was to create an Homage to the Tour de Corse models so the car now has a wider body and Tour De Corse front Bumper.Fragile grills and vents were re- engineered and 3D printed by SCAN HD.
- What have you done to the paintwork?Originally Pearlescent white, Yann had the bodywork acid dipped, 90s sun roof removed and replaced with new roof panel all painted Pearl Black. The car reflects crystal's of red green and blue in the sunlight.
- What have you done with the wheels & tyres?Compomotive Heritage RT maxi wheels, in Anthracite Grey (front 7.5 x 15", rear 9.5 x 16") replace the original wheels. The wheels have been laser aligned to create toe in and camber alignment with a fully adjustable ride height.Rear Tyres are Nankang 245/45ZR16 (I think). We do get some resistance from followers re Nankang but we are really pleased with them!
- What have you done with the interior?The original seats were repaired and covered in a colour match Colony Hide leather by CW Trimming (West Sussex)All new carpets, door cards and roof trim from Les Sellieres du Domaines (France).
- We probably don't need to ask this question… but is the car a "keeper" or will you sell it one day?She's a keeper!
- Do you own any other interesting cars?Yes! We also own a Phase 1 Clio V6, and a Lotus Europa Twin Cam 1972!