Gary’s passion for all things Renault was first ignited when he was at school in the mid-Nineties.
He recalls: “I was playing football with some pals and saw a Mégane Coupe in Renault Sport Yellow drive by on the road outside – I was mesmerised!
“From that moment on I knew I’d want Renaults and when I passed my test in 1998 I got the Panache which had the twin-choke carburettor off the 5 Turbo for extra oomph. The only thing that ever needed fixing was the throttle cable – the previous owner had tied a knot it! Eventually it broke so I had to drive it home 20 miles on the choke!
“It eventually came to a bit of a sad ending. I was on my way to pick up my grandmother to go shopping but lost control in the snow and went into a tree.”
Six years later Gary took ownership of a 1993 Mk1 Clio RSI. “There was the Clio Williams 2.0 followed by a 1.8 16v and a 1.8 8v and mine was the eight-valve. Quite a rare car… there was only 26hp difference between it and the 16v version and the torque was very similar. I kept it for 18 months and really enjoyed it.”
Next came much enjoyment owning a 2002 Clio Renault Sport 172 for six years (despite a suspension-crunching prang on a roundabout) before that was traded in for the 2005 Mégane 225 – one of the last made prior to the car being given a facelift. The car has just had its last ‘big outing’ of 2016 when it joined cars owned by fellow members of the Renaultsport Club for their annual end-of-year get-together in North Yorkshire (Scarborough-Whitby).
“I’d seen the Méganes advertised on billboards and never thought I’d own one. But then one came up at a stupid price – £10,000 I think – and I’d have been nuts to turn it down. It’s definitely the car in which I’ve done the best drive – the North Coast 500 organised by the Renaultsport.co.uk guys. It was a road trip across the top of Scotland – Inverness to Ullapool and back in a convoy of Renault Sports, including a very famous driving road at Applecross.
“2016 has been busy. I’ve also done the French Car Show (Castle Combe), TRAX (Silverstone), French Car Show ‘Expo’ (Donington Park) and the Malton ‘big breakfast. I bought the car with 6000 miles on the clock – now that’s nearer 75,000 but it’s never been ragged. The closest I’ve come to a track day in it was a slow track parade at the World Series by Renault events. It’s never missed a beat and unless it needs a service or MOT (when it is fettled by specialist Renault Sport dealership Harratts at Wakefield) I maintain it myself.”
It’s been a 20-year Renault Sport romance for Gary and, it seems, he’ll always have a soft spot for the French machines.
“I know German cars get a big following but they’re not for me – they just look like smaller or bigger photocopies of each other in my opinion. Renaults and Renault Sports always have a character all of their own and that’s what I’m after.”